Walking While Working

New York Times reporter Amy Harmon has been working at a treadmill desk and logging about five miles a day:

After a few false starts, I began to learn to adjust my speed to the task at hand. Sometimes I was walking too fast to concentrate, but sometimes a slow pace seemed to be a drag on my work. So when I felt my body getting in the way of my brain, I just pushed the treadmill’s up or down buttons.

When it comes to synthesizing a lot of information into a coherent article, the hardest part of my job, I still have the powerful urge to sit. And I pause when editors come by to talk, because it seems rude to burn calories while they stand still. But ideal email-writing speeds range from half a mile to 1.5 miles per hour, and the perfect balance for phone interviews is closer to two miles per hour. Not all of my colleagues share my tread-desk enthusiasm. “I have enough trouble doing my job as it is,” a Metro reporter told me. Others saw it as a multitasking slippery slope. One hums the marching song of the flying monkeys from “Wizard of Oz” when he passes by, roughly in time with my own footfalls.

Various studies have shown how detrimental sitting is for us—even if we’re active outside of work (where we do the majority of our sitting). Besides the health benefits, Harmon wonders if walking while working will also make her into a better writer: “Could those punchy but profound endings that I invariably conceive when I’m out exercising but can’t remember when I’m in front of the screen be channeled by the tread desk?” We’ll find out soon enough.

Photo: Juhan Sonin

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4 Comments / Post A Comment

andnowlights (#2,902)

Oh this is my absolute dream! Sitting at a desk all day makes my hips hurt. I worked retail for three years, logged anywhere from 4-6 miles a day just working a shift (I wore a pedometer a few times), and it was so great and so good for me.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

@andnowlights This too is my dream. i tried making a standing desk here but it became a calamity. I know of one person who was given a standing desk and he is a VP and has a doctor’s note stating he can’t sit. I miss retail for the fact that I was on my feet for most of the day. I learned how to wear high heels because of one my retail jobs required me to be fancy, so I have mastered walking around for long periods of time (ok like 4 hours max) in heels.

jillcool (#2,123)

I currently have a sit/stand station but I would love a treadmill. I stand around 80% of the time but I have found that I have to do heavy duty thinking while sitting. As a computer systems analyst, all of my testing work is done while standing. I do know I have to make sure I wear proper shoes to work now. My fav are my Danskos.

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