I’ve read the reports (ex: Are You Sitting Down? Why a Stand-Up Desk Might Save Your Life) and since I’ve been sitting for something like 20 years I get worried. I’ve also gotten out of shape and put on weight. So … what to do! I tried a couple different stand up desk arrangements but finding the right keyboard height and monitor height was a problem. I also had a tendency to wander off. Not the most productive set up if I keep seeing something shiny or tasty.
And then I read Jeff LaMarche’s blog post about building a treadmill desk and thought now that’s my style! He’s definitely a maker and used tools I don’t have to build a great looking, custom set up. Great inspiration and I was soon measuring myself and looking at my own design. But alas, I’m a hacker, not a carpenter. So off I went to The Home Depot and to Sears to see what I could whip up.
The treadmill was the easy part - Sears had a ProForm Crosswalk 397 on sale for $459 (Pretty much this is the current model). I wanted something reasonably priced and simple. After a few months of use this has done well.
I was trying all sorts of things to get the monitor height right and I was looking at heavy duty arms clamped to the tread framework when I had a nice insight. Keyboard players (musicians not coders) have the same problem. So I checked out music gear and On-Stage makes an A-frame 3 tier stand ($100) that turns out to be perfect for me. It’s the right height and dimensions to fit right over treadmill and the keyboard arms hold shelves perfectly. The whole thing has great forward/backward stability too - but is a little flexible in the left/right world. Not enough to be concerned about, there’s no way it’s going to tip or collapse, but enough to not want to shake it up or hang onto it like it’s a jungle gym. The best part is that the horizontal bars can be placed at the right height for you. The keyboard and magic pad shelf is perfect - my elbows are bent just a bit more than 90 degrees and I can position them for small adjustments on the fly.
The shelves are all stock from The Home Depot. I didn’t even cut them. The bottom is 12” x 24” and the top 2x 8x48”.
My typical work day now starts off with coffee and an iPad at the kitchen table or on the couch and after a mug or two I move to the treadmill. I’ll work at 2mph for an hour or two at a time and take a break on the couch for a change of scenery. Or take a real walk down the hill to clear my head. I’ve played around with speeds and find that at 2mph I’m steady enough to read and type and it’s fast enough to not be boring. 1mph is a slow stroll and it feels like I work slowly too. Brisk walk equals brisk work! Or so I hope.
I’ve used this setup for a few months now with varying levels of activity. For a bit in the summer the sun was too bright and glare sent me inside or to the desk. I do really like it though. The motion seems to be inspiring and just being active feels so much better. Now when I plop down for a movie I don’t feel so guilty either.
So the whole rig cost about $600 all in all. Much less than the pre-made treadmill desks at Amazon and much less than a Geek Desk too. I love it!