Desk Treadmill Workouts: Tips for Staying Active at Work

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Think you’re not moving enough? You’re not alone. In Canada, there is an estimated 18% of the population who live a sedentary lifestyle, walking less than 5,000 steps per day. A big number of this population consists of individuals whose job is characterized by computer work, sitting on their chair and facing their laptop for over 10 hours a day.

This has caused a rise in chronic diseases associated with lack of movement, prompting many individuals to look for ways to move more. This, in turn, has led to the introduction of ergonomic solutions in offices such as the desk treadmill, as well as the concept of active work.


The Concept of Active Work: What It Is and How It Works in the Workplace

You can think of active work as a work culture, one that encourages office employees and workers to move more while at work. Now why is this important? Well, being active is key to living a healthy life. And while you have your gym workouts and exercises, it has been proven that these do not offset the effects of prolonged sitting that happens in the workplace.

The real solution is more movement—yes, even as you work. And this is where the desk treadmill comes in. You can think of it like any ordinary treadmill, except that it is designed to be paired with a desk, preferably a standing desk, to allow you to walk while you work, or simultaneously alternate between walking and light jogging while you do light office tasks.

Many offices today are placing more importance on employee health, so active work is slowly becoming a key ingredient of any healthy work culture. Alongside this, ergonomic solutions such as the desk treadmill are seeing more and more use in modern offices.

Using the Desk Treadmill for Work and Workouts

How do I use the desk treadmill while working? This is the most common initial question of users who want to try the “active work” lifestyle and start using a desk treadmill in the office. Before we go into the different desk treadmill workouts that you can give a try, let’s take a look at some basic guidelines and reminders:

  • Start by finding the sit-stand-walk routine that works for you best. Active work is all about balance, and the use of a desk treadmill must be done in moderation and at the right pace to help make the habit sustainable for you. Start small and build steadily until such time when walking while working becomes natural and easy.
  • Set your desk to the correct height to keep a proper posture while walking on a desk treadmill. Check that you do not hunch over your laptop or strain your shoulders and neck while you walk and work.
  • Wear the proper footwear for walking and workouts, depending on the intensity of the activity you want to do. This will ensure a pain-free and fun experience.

Now that we have these initial guidelines in place, it’s time to take a look at the different workouts you can do in your desk treadmill while you work. These are simple workouts that will not require a lot of your time, so following them should be easy.

woman on a desk treadmill

Doing a Basic Walk While Working

This appears to be a given and one of the first workouts you can do while working and using a desk treadmill. One thing to remember, though, is to mindfully pick the work tasks and activities you pair walking with. Not all tasks are suited for pairing with desk treadmill use, but some are.

If you are just starting your day and checking, writing, and replying to emails, this is one of the best times to use a desk treadmill. If you need to do some light typing and other tasks that don’t demand a lot of concentration, analysis, and similar types of mental work, you can do these while walking on the treadmill, too. Another task that is perfect for pairing with walking is talking on the phone or attending a virtual meeting. These are tasks that do not require a lot of concentration, so it’s easy to do them while walking on the desk treadmill.

Doing Different Variations of Desk Treadmill Walk

As has already been mentioned earlier, active work is all about balance. This means trying different workouts and exercises, too, so that you stimulate different muscle groups in your body. You have your basic walk, but there are other variations that you can do to add spice to your workouts. Check out the following:

  • Interval walking means walking in varying speeds at specific intervals. You can start with a slow walk on the desk treadmill to warm up, go faster for a minute or two, go back to a slower walk for 30 seconds, go back up to a faster speed, and so on.
  • Incline walking can be done by simply increasing the incline on the treadmill. You can do this to simulate walking up a mountain or up the stairs, and this is a great way to intensify your workouts and to engage more muscles than you would with a normal walk.
  • Stepping is done by taking quicker and shorter steps on the desk treadmill, which is facilitated by the step function that some treadmills are equipped with. It’s a good variety to add to your regular treadmill walk, and it can definitely increase your heart rate.
  • Add weights to your walk to amp up the benefits. You can do this if you have dumbbells. Another option would be to try a weighted vest. Start with lower weights, and then increase the weight as your body develops more strength.

In addition to adding variations to your regular walk, there are other things you can do to maximize your walk. If you have time to spare, you can walk on the desk treadmill while on a break and give both your body and your mind some rest.

  • Do breathing exercises while you walk, or you can even do a meditative walk to clear your mind and just get away from the day’s stress mentally.
  • Listen to audio books or podcasts while you walk—this is a productive way to spend your break.

Jogging or Light Running on the Desk Treadmill

This is another variation you can do on your desk treadmill while on a quick break in between tasks. It is especially helpful during the dead hours when you tend to feel drowsy or having low energy. Add some more “active” into active work by doing more than just walking.

When you do, remember to observe proper posture and to use supportive shoes to make the experience comfortable and fun.

gym gear

Doing Simple Desk-Based Workouts

Apart from workouts on your desk treadmill, there are also exercises that you can do by your desks. These can start from simple stretches to more physically active workouts that stimulate different muscle groups to keep them healthy and facilitate a better circulation in your body.

Here are some of the stretches and exercises that you can try.

Upper Body Exercises

These simple workouts are for your arms and back. They will stimulate muscles on your shoulders, chest, including triceps. Some of the exercises also offer abdominal benefits.

  • Wrist, Fingers, and Elbow Stretch
  • Arm Pulses
  • Standing Desk Back Stretch
  • Neck Rolls

Lower Body Exercises

To complete your exercises, also go for those that stimulate your thighs, hips, and glutes, including hamstrings and calves. Workouts that require more movements are also able to engage your entire body.

  • Desk Squats with Arm Raises
  • Standing Desk Knee Lifts
  • Hamstring Curls
  • Calf Raises
  • Standing Rear Pulses

You can incorporate all of these exercises to create holistic workouts throughout the day, observing the active work lifestyle with the help of ergonomic furniture in your space, starting with the desk treadmill and standing desk.

For the complete steps in doing these exercises, you can read more here: Simple Exercises You Can Do in Your Standing Desk

office with stairs

Completing the Active Work Lifestyle: Other Ways to Move More in the Workplace

As has already been mentioned earlier, the regular exercises you do, whether at the gym or outside, are not enough to make up for the many hours of sitting you do at work. To get the healthy amount of movement that you need to live a healthy lifestyle, staying active at work is very important.

Apart from the desk treadmill and standing desk workouts mentioned above, there are other things you can do to add more movement to your day—without spending extra time. Check out the following:

  • Consider walking as an alternative to driving—when going to work or heading home, when visiting your nearby coffee shop during break, or when going out to lunch.
  • Apart from walking, another good alternative is biking—it’s an eco-friendly way to travel and reach your destinations these days.
  • When going up to the office, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevators. Climbing up or down one or two floors is definitely good exercise.
  • Put the phone down and walk to your colleague instead. If you need to talk or discuss, go for face-to-face conversation instead of virtual. Apart from being able to move more by walking, building connections in the office is also good for your health.
  • Make frequent trips to the water refilling station. This will not only keep you hydrated but will also add to the movement that you do all day.

Active work is all about a good balance of movement done throughout the day, and it’s an easy lifestyle to live once you develop the mindset of moving more—mindfully telling yourself to move more until it becomes second nature to you. The right workouts combined with small movements throughout your workday (whether in your desk treadmill or in your standing desk) will definitely help you to stay healthier and more active.

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