Once I started working from home in 2019, my step count plummeted. Aside from my regular workout schedule, I was sedentary. The lack of movement meant that my lower back was sore regularly (despite having a great mattress and office chair), my energy levels were low and my core strength was bleak. Then I saw a girl talking about her experience with a desk treadmill on TikTok, and knew I had to have it…ASAP. After four months, I can say it’s been a total gamechanger for me. My average step count on a regular day pre-desk treadmill was around 2,200 (I say with a wince). Now, my average is anywhere between 13,000 and 15,000. But according to certified personal trainer Anna Victoria, step count isn't the main thing we should be focusing on.
I Started Using a Desk Treadmill & Upped My Step Count from 2,000 to 15,000
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Meet the Expert
What Are the Health Benefits of Walking?
According to Victoria, there are heaps of health benefits of getting your steps in. "[It] increases cardiovascular fitness and aerobic capacity, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, increases metabolic rate, reduces the incidence of osteoarthritis, reduces the likelihood of falls later in life, improves mood, decreases anxiety and so much more!" says Victoria. It's easy to hyper focus on the amount of steps tracked on your watch or phone, but that isn't always the best choice. "There are health benefits to walking, regardless of how many steps someone achieves," Victoria explains. "Any amount of movement is better than being totally sedentary. I have personally witnessed some of my clients get overly fixated on step counts and feel like their day was a failure if they didn’t reach their daily goal, and even try to make up for it the following day," she recalls. All in all, getting your body moving and making sure you're feeling good and enjoying what you're doing is the most important.
My Desk Treadmill Routine
I’ve found that starting my day getting dressed in my leggings and throwing on my sneakers makes me immediately excited to hop on my tread. I usually walk for about 30 minutes, then wheel it off to the side to sit on my desk chair for a bit. I’ve noticed that 30 minutes of walking at about a 2.5 to 3 speed is my sweet spot for working and walking at the same time, although 3.0 is typically reserved for meetings when I’m not typing as much. I walk whenever I feel like it—I don’t force myself to walk for a specific amount of time nor do I track my steps during the day. (This has been important in helping to keep my relationship with in-home walking healthy.) However, I am a super habit-based person and I do end up walking pretty similar times throughout the week. "Starting out with smaller goals, like 3K, 6K, then 10K, may result in a better long-term outcome," says Victoria in regard to people with busy schedules. She also mentions that someone who is regularly active may not need to aim for a specific step goal considering they're already moving their bodies. For me, starting off just walking when I felt like it helped me develop a positive association with my walk routine and now it’s just something I love to do. I usually walk again for about 45 minutes after lunch and then another 30 to 45 minutes before my workday ends.
The Downsides of Walking While Working
Yup, I have slipped off. But no, that isn’t common. (I was dancing to the Midnights album by Taylor Swift while taking a sip of coffee and distracted myself enough to step on the side of the track which made me slip right off and spill my coffee everywhere.) I also had to make some adjustments to my laptop set up. I’m tall (just under 5’8”), and my standing desk with the tread underneath makes it a smidge too short to comfortably look at my laptop. To remedy this, I got a laptop stand and an external keyboard and mouse, which took me a good few weeks to get the hang of using instead of my regular mousepad and attached keyboard. I’ve also had to get used to wearing my Apple Watch on my ankle to track my steps. Since my hands rest on the desk while I work because of typing, I wrap my watch around my ankle to get the correct number of steps. My watch band is a teeny bit too small for my ankle, so I finagle a hair band in the openings to tie it on with a little give.
My Overall Experience
I didn’t buy a walking pad and standing desk this to write about it, and I didn’t do this to lose weight. I did this to feel good and increase my daily mobility—and that’s exactly what it did. My pain in my lower back is noticeably absent, my energy levels and mood have dramatically improved and I’m moving my body throughout the day. I may not get to walk to the office or walk to get lunch with coworkers, but getting these steps in during the day is a damn good replacement. I don’t usually use my tread on the weekends, and since I’m not getting that daily activity, I find myself having built up energy that makes me want to go out and about and explore and use my time off to move my body, instead of reserving my Saturdays for the couch (which I still do sometimes). While seeing that bump up in my step count at the end of the day is a bonus, the health benefits I’ve experienced have made this a habit I enjoy and intend to keep up with.
2 Things You Need for a Comfortable Setup
There are different kinds of desk treadmills you can get, from models with a desk attached to walking pads you can wheel out of the way. I have the walking pad above, and it’s the most effective for my lifestyle because I don’t have enough room in my house for a full treadmill, nor do I need a foldable one since I just lean mine up against the wall. This one goes up to five miles per hour and is remote controlled.
Most adjustable desks are electric, with buttons to adjust the height to your liking. However, if you are a little more old fashioned, you have the option to get a manually adjustable standing desk, too. I opted for an electric version and it’s truly one of my favorite things I own. It has wire baskets on the bottom for storage and two hooks on the side if you need to hang other cords or headphones. If you’re tall, just be sure you pay attention to the max heights so you can be positive the desk reaches you comfortably when you’re on your tread.
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