Treadmill desks help you get fit, get the job done

BY ANN BELSER June 25, 2011 9:02PM

 Jay Buster was working as a trader in Chicago, he got plenty of exercise — standing, jumping, waving his arms on the trading floor.

But when Buster, a trader in futures and derivatives, moved to Boulder, Colo., it was a different story. He works out of his garage now, in front of a computer.

It’s not as if he was a coach potato. He had joined a masters swimming program, regularly putting in two miles at the pool.

But still, over a period of 10 years, when he tried to lose 10 pounds, he gained 5 instead.

Then he installed a treadmill desk after reading about James Levine at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, who came up with the idea.

He lost 16 pounds in the first four months after he started working at the desk.

Between May 26, 2007, and Feb. 18, 2009, walking while working at his treadmill desk, he logged about five or six miles a day, which added up to walking from New York City to the beach at Santa Monica, Calif.

Many manufacturers sell treadmill desks.

Steelcase, an office-furniture manufacturer, makes a “walkstation,” a desk that is integrated into a treadmill and designed to hold a computer with wings for papers or knickknacks. It sells for about $5,000.

The TrekDesk Treadmill desk, which sells for about $500, fits over a standard treadmill.

Buster bought a treadmill on Craigslist and built his own treadmill desk. He put foam across the handles of the treadmill and then attached a board on top of the foam. The desk holds two monitors, a keyboard and a mouse.

He walks at about 1 mph, a little more than one step a second. The pace is fast enough to walk more than five miles a day. At that slow speed, the treadmill is about as loud as a fan.

Working at the treadmill took a day or so to get used to, he said. “Then after a while, five miles goes by and you’re like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t aware of it.’ ”

Standing Desk Headquarters,, has ads for desks where you can stand or walk while you work.

The site says the furniture not only helps users lose weight but also can relieve back pain, increase energy and increase productivity.

It says Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Leonardo Da Vinci were rumored to have worked at standing desks.

The site also says that Ernest Hemingway often stood while writing and once wrote: “Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”

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