Weight Loss With A Treadmill Desk Update #3

A quick update with regard to the weight loss with a treadmill desk improvement sprint. It has been almost an entire month since I posted on this subject and the pounds just keep disappearing, right about the rate I expected them too, but also a little slower due to me changing up how I approached the month of June, which I will get to in a moment.

During the month of May, due to the slow start, I did not quite break 100 miles for the entire month, and I am kind of disappointed in that. I realised with only two days left to go that I would fall short of that number and thought about pushing through an extra couple of hours each day to make up the mileage.

But why would I? Reviewing my stated goals for May with regard to the treadmill desk, 100 miles was never on the table of things being considered. The goal was at least 2 hours a day, at whatever speed I chose, with one day off per week. And I achieved that – apart from the early hiccough at the beginning – so why was I now trying to give myself a secondary goal that I never wanted?


Self-discipline and the subtly of hidden motivational goals; you can be a complete bitch sometimes.

So I did not hit 100 miles, big deal. There is always next month.

Ah, but June I want to try something different.

DSC00004 My total weight loss from the beginning of May, since I started walking on the treadmill desk again, has been 6.5lbs over the course of 44 days, or six weeks and change. That is 1lb per week, right on target for the first month of weight loss, and about what I expected.

I started off in May walking slowly to get back in to the swing of things, and then picked up my pace towards the end of the month. But then I had a thought. What happens if I slow down? Before I commit myself to the usual 2.5MPH at 2% incline I wanted to test out a quick theory with regards to Non-exercise Activity Thermo-Genesis (NEAT), which has been bandied around for a few years, but is right now being pushed heavily in the popular press as treadmill desks become a little more mainstream.

I fully expect to break 100 miles in June, simply because of the time I will be putting in. The target is to do as many hours a day as possible, but keeping the speed between 1MPH and 1.2MPH. The reasoning behind this is multi-fold: I want to see if the weight loss continues to occur, week after week, at the slower pace but extended daily time and also, does my typing or other work suffer at the slower speed.

A couple of people have commented that the flat-footed slap of their feet at the very low speeds introduces more vibration than walking at higher speeds. With regard to that, I am measuring my typing speed and accuracy and keeping a log of it over the course of June, and will then compare that with July or August, when I pick up the pace again.

The weight loss results of walking for an extended period at a slower pace I will not know until the effects are felt in the middle of July. The weight loss I am experiencing right now, today, is still the tail end of walking rapidly at the end of May.

I have read the published scientific papers by Dr James Levine and others on the subject in the various journals (it helps having a friendly research librarian on hand), but the subject is so new that there is not much in the way of solid, published literature or conducted studies with real concrete proof for or against NEAT. I believe in part of the concept, but what I believe and what is true are two very different things. So I am conducting my own small study on myself and a colleague at the office. One of the questions I want answered is “when does NEAT begin to exhibit itself within the collected data and is not just incidental evidence?”

I know, from almost a decade of working at a treadmill desk that this kind of exercise works, when applied daily. But I am not sure that the entire concept of NEAT yet holds true. Part of the concept of NEAT is promulgated on the observation that people who fidget are often skinny. And if that were true my hyperactive, endlessly fidgeting girlfriend would be one of those super-tall, super-skinny, super-models. But she is not, she has lots of curves in all the right places. So there are questions about the concept…

Does just fidgeting make you lose weight? I highly doubt it. It might burn a few extra calories, but I think that there are other factors involved with skinny people who fidget a lot. Perhaps fidgeting is a side effect of being skinny for these people, rather than being skinny a side effect of fidgeting. Perhaps they are skinny because of their metabolism, and it is the metabolism that makes them fidget. Both side effects of something else.

Whatever the reason, I call in to question the results of the early studies and I think the jury is still out. Also, there are many fundamental flaws in the scientific papers published to date on this subject and they leave more questions unanswered than they address.

After the first month of ramping up I normally go all out, walking between 2MPH and 2.5MPH at an incline of around 2% or more, but this time around I decided to take a month to see if weight loss, steady or otherwise, continued through the second month of slow and steady as she goes. 30 days should be enough to determine if the weight loss continues at the slower pace and extended number of hours, all other things being equal.

I intend, on the 1st of July to pick up the pace again, and return to my minimum of two hours per day, but also do as many more hours as I can, so I expect four or five hours a day will be the norm from that point forward, and that is when I expect to rapidly begin losing weight, just like every other time I have taken an extended hiatus away from the treadmill desk.

Below is the spreadsheet data for the first 17 days of June 2009, courtesy of Google Docs, and included in the spreadsheet, across the monthly tabs at the bottom, is the data for the month of May.

You can draw your own conclusions from this data but you should pay attention to the weight loss between the beginning of May and the current weight on the 17th of June. Over six pounds down, give or take an ounce or two. NEAT, in one form or another, when considered within the framework of a treadmill desk, really does work.

Expect another quick update sometime in July, when hopefully I will have some data with regard to my experiment in just walking slow and steady.

The Two “Treadmill Desk” Office Update #2

DSC01977 The treadmill has been assembled, the desk has been partially constructed, and wonderfully, almost everything is going according to plan for the second treadmill desk project.

With regard to the desk, this is the part of the plan that I have changed. Originally I intended to use chrome shelving, but after measuring the treadmill and determining the position of the control panel and hand rails, which the user of the treadmill desk does not want to reposition at this time, the intention is to use a similar desk construction to the one I have on my treadmill. I am using the cheaper, though less sturdy plastic pipes and particleboard shelves, self-assembly shelving units from “Real Organized” that can be purchased at Lowes.

I will have to modify the lower part of the desk to make it fit snugly around the treadmill handrails and the heart rate monitoring handgrips. Other than that minor modification, which should not take more than 20 minutes with a band saw and a wood rasp, everything else worked out just great.

I would link to the parts that I used for the desk but unfortunately the Lowe’s website does not list the items. All I can do is give you the part numbers from the boxes and direct you to visit the nearest store, if you are interested in assembling a similar desk.

The parts that make up the desk portion of the treadmill desk, are:

  • 2x (Item #253664) Pack of [Feet and tops] – You will need six feet and six tops.
  • 3x (Item #253660) Pack of XL (16”) Tube Legs
  • 1x (Item #253656) Pack of L (12”) Tube Legs
  • 1x (Item #253654) Pack of S (8”) Tube Legs
  • 1x or 2x 48”x16” Wood shelf
  • 1x 48”x16” Glass shelf – This allows you to see the treadmill console below the 2nd-tier of your desk.

If you have a narrow treadmill and do not require a wide desk, the 36” shelves would also work. I just happen to like lots of desk space to spread my work out on.

Total cost for the Real Organized desk parts should be between $50 and $90 depending on your desk and the city you purchase them in.

You require this many parts because if you are making desks like I have at the office, which are two-tiered, you will require six legs total.

The Real Organized free-standing shelving units are designed to have multiple shelves and this is how the legs of the unit maintains rigidity and strength. Unfortunately, unless you disassemble your treadmill, removing the upright arms that support the console and remove the handrails, you cannot put extra shelves in. My solution to this problem is to add in supports between the legs by taking a few pieces of wood and drilling them with holes the same size as the holes in the Real Organized shelves.

With that said, for the extra supports, you will also need: 3x 48” x 3” x ¾” pine and 2x 16” x 3” x ¾” pine, drilled at the appropriate locations to accommodate the legs of the desk. These pieces of wood will strengthen and stiffen the desk legs. You can drill these holes with a wood spade drill bit which can also be purchased at Lowe’s. You will need a ¾” drill bit such as the one found in this package.

The two treadmill desks that are in current use at the office are slightly different from each other because the treadmills are different models. For your own treadmill desk, I recommend purchasing the plastic shelving parts and just two shelves at first, construct the desk, and then determine what other wood will be require to strengthen the legs. If you buy too many legs or shelves, you can always return them directly to Lowes once your treadmill desk construction project is complete.

Total construction time for the first treadmill desk was about 2 hours, for the second treadmill desk, it was 20 minutes. The first desk I had to experiment with and figure out what wooden supports needed to go where. With the second treadmill desk, it was just a matter of measuring, cutting and drilling the extra support.

You may need to cut small corners out of one part of your desk, on the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse. This necessity will be dictated by your particular style of treadmill.

On my Nordic Track Solaris I had to cut out a long hole in the middle of the keyboard shelf (shown in the picture before sanding and painting) to accommodate the heart rate monitoring bar.


I could have raised up the desk height by 1” which would have solved this problem, but then I would not be able to determine my heart rate without an external heart rate monitor.

This is now a moot point, the shelf cut out and treadmill heart rate handgrip bar are now obsolete as I use an external heart rate monitor. The handgrip bar is no longer used and I will be removing it in the next week or two as it just takes up desk space.