The End of The World As We Know It.

I recently blogged about my treadmill desk, and after a faltering start due to illness over the holidays, I’m very pleased with it. I can read, write, revise, blog, surf, and do anything else I need to do on the computer, all while walking at a comfortable 2 miles per hour. I already lose track of time while writing and find my wife giving me the stinkeye at two in the morning. Now I’m getting healthier instead of heavier while I’m at it.

But like getting a dog, the treadmill desk turns out to have a social dimension above and beyond the technical. Though I had probably had the passing idea, I first encountered the serious proposition of an actual treadmill desk on line. Now that I have one, I’m finding I’m far from alone. Susan Currie Sivek blogged about her experiences doing academic work on her treadmill. Daniel Miller ‏(@Crimson342 on Twitter) is using a treadmill to fit up his gaming habit. Ashley Jenkins ‏(@jinxcellent) successfully petitioned for a shared walking desk to be installed by her employer.

This is not a crazy idea. As we sciency types often find, what we’ve been doing for generations is the crazy idea. This particular crazy idea (spending 40,000 or more of our most produtive hours sitting behind a desk) is killing us, and it stops here–or at least takes a majorehind a desk) jog to the left–and we’re helping one another do it. Score one for the internet. Welcome to the end of the world as we know it.

My Little Christmas Present

This year, I bought myself a Christmas present.

I’m not really a trend follower, but a recent NPR story about treadmill desks started me thinking. I read on the exercycle all the time, but these days I spend a LOT of time writing, often taking breaks to go for a walk and think. Why not combine the two?

Of course, both treadmills and treadmill desks are often over-done and over-expensive for my tastes, so I just bought a Horizon T101 treadmill and made my own desk. The T101 is a good, middle of the road unit that folds out of the way and is large enough for my stride. Most important, it has simple, flat grip handles. I just lay a short piece of wire shelving upside down across the handles and add a matching shelf-top rack that locks securely into the shelf and bumps my netbook up to a tolerable height.

So far it’s working well. The shelf extends far enough over the deck that I don’t kick anything when close to the keyboard (a problem many have had with expensive treadmill desks), but I still have enough handle to grip should I need to. Of course, I do step off to drink my coffee, and I added a small box to raise the netbook another two inches and to prevent neck strain (I’m 6′ 1”). I’ll come up with something more permanent for that, but in the meantime, I’ve got a fully functional treadmill desk for just over $600.

The best part is, I completely loose track of time when I’m writing. Once I get used to typing while I walk, I’ll while away hours on this thing and never even notice. Most likely, my legs will give out long before my patience, which will be a novel excercise experience.

Cheers, and happy holidays.