If you want to exercise at your desk, the good news is that you have tons of options.

You can choose to buy an out-of-the-box solution to replace of supplement existing your existing desk. But if want to go the DIY route, you have a few options too. The best fit for you is going to be partially determined by whether you’re replacing or augmenting your desk, whether you also want to be able to adjust from sitting to standing, and whether you want to bike or walk.

For Cyclists

You can buy under-the-desk bike pedals, like the awesome DeskCycle that I own (and highly recommend), a desk bike that’s made to go with a standing desk, or a complete bike desk. If you’re not sure that desk biking is for you, consider starting with a less-expensive set of pedals, but do be aware that they often don’t pedal smoothly and the tension controls typically don’t do much.

These pedals work great!

For Walkers

Check out treadmills that are made specifically to be used at a desk, like the Rebel or Lifespan. These mills have no side arms or front-mounted control panel to interfere with sliding under a desk and usually have a small control panel that sits on the desk top instead.

They usually also top out at a fast walking speed, so check that too if you think you want to “double up” and run on it during your off-hours.

If you already own a standard treadmill with side arms and the front control panel, you can try this hack to make a DIY tread desk. The TrekDesk might also be worth considering since it claims to fit with any existing treadmill.

Tread-Desking 101

If you read my post on walking and working, you already know that I am now the proud owner of a tread desk.  I’ve been tread-desking now for just a week or so, but I’ve already learned a few things that I thought I would pass along.


The first thing I learned is that you really need to wear shoes. 🙂

I prefer to go barefoot whenever possible, so wearing shoes while I work at home is not something that sounds very appealing to me. However, the belt on the treadmill can be rough on the feet. After walking on it for a couple of hours after we got everything assembled and set up, the bottoms of my feet were pretty sore.

In addition, shoes are just a good idea for safety too – saving your tender little piggies from injury if they get too close to the edges of the belt seems a good plan.

Eh, it could be worse. They’re comfy and convenient, though.

I have a very nice pair of running shoes, but I opted instead for a piece of footwear I never thought I would own: slip-on sneakers. I keep them under my desk, which makes it really easy to slip them on when I want to walk and off again when I’m just standing or sitting.

Timing Is Everything

This will be me in no time. 😉

At first, I just walked until I didn’t want to walk anymore, but then I started setting the timer on my phone for intervals. I walk for one to two hours and then sit for an hour, alternating as best as I can throughout the day. Now you see why it was important for me to have an easy way to quickly go from sitting to standing, huh?

By Day 3, I was walking for three to four hours a day and hit my first-ever 30,000 steps badge on my Fitbit.

That's almost 12.5 miles, y'all!
That’s almost 12.5 miles, y’all!

Setting a timer and monitoring progress helps me stay motivated and hopefully will prevent me from going overboard and standing or walking too much (but really, can there even be too much of that?). I found that I adjusted very quickly and easily to walking and working and can type comfortably and accurately up to about 2mph or so.

Having a Tread Buddy and/or a Supportive Work Environment Helps

I’m very fortunate in that I have both. Many of my co-workers use adjustable-height desks and one of my teammates also has a tread desk (the same one I bought, by the way). She and I compare notes from time to time on steps and other metrics, which has been fun.

It also helps that we have a very supportive work environment in that our employer encourages (and even helps fund) such setups, so none of us feel like oddballs or that we’re being met with the figurative raised eyebrow when we talk openly about our tread desks.

Quite the opposite has happened in fact – based on our discussions, we’ve noticed that a few other co-workers are now thinking about or planning on getting tread desks too. The more the merrier, right?

In fact, we’ve made jokes about doing our own in-house version of OK, Go’s awesome treadmill-inspired music video for Here We Go Again:

And with that, I’ll sign off now, but before I do, I’ll just add that I wrote this post and the other posts in this series all while walking.


Check out the other posts in this series:

Sit Less, Live Better and Longer? Yes!

Re-Engineering My Office: Walking and Working

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