PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY: Put the spring back into your step at work
CONSIDER office work a slog? Feel like you're on a hamster wheel? Then perhaps the addition of a treadmill desk to your work environment may not appeal. However, some of those who feel office life is too sedentary and unhealthy are turning to the treadmill-desk concept.
LIFESPAN TR 1200-DT TREADMILL DESK
I just lost my excuse of not having time to go the gym. The gym has come to me in the shape of LifeSpan's treadmill desk: I can work while working out. It is one of many options available to those wanting to mix work with masochistic pleasure - from laptop holders that fit on an existing treadmill to integrated desks and treadmills costing thousands of dollars.
LifeSpan's latest TR 1200-DT version costs $1300 and is available so far in the Americas and India. It will be available in other countries soon, says the company, although prices are yet to be confirmed.
I introduced the 1200-DT to the FT's San Francisco bureau to see if the reporters' habits of a lifetime could be changed. But persuading everyone to get off their backsides to exercise while working proved too challenging.
The equipment arrived in two large boxes. One contained the long flat treadmill itself, no assembly required. The second contained a desktop - a generously wide surface with a wrist rest and built-in controls in the front for the treadmill - along with the pieces to construct the adjustable supporting frame.
Despite being an Ikea incompetent, I assembled it all with the help of the manual and the supplied spanner and Allen key in less than an hour. I only needed a helping hand when it came to lifting and mounting the desktop atop the frame. I then rolled the treadmill underneath and connected up the electrics.
The sturdy steel-frame construction impressed me, the height was easily adjustable and the desktop had ample room for a PC, monitor and keyboard. The treadmill offers the usual functions - stop and start buttons, up and down arrow keys for speed and a display that shows time, miles per hour, steps taken, calories burnt and distance covered.
I set everything up by a window, booted up my PC, started the treadmill and tried to ignore the odd looks from strangers passing outside. I soon mastered walking and typing - a novel experience, I'm strolling along as I type this text now - although my mistakes multiplied as I got up to about 5km/h.
The machine goes no faster than just more than 6km/h - the equivalent of a very brisk walk - more or less the limit for people to type with any accuracy.
I did not realise how much my whole body moves even at a gentle pace, which meant controlling mouse movements was difficult. The LifeSpan's built-in wrist rest is of some help in steadying oneself. That helped for taking handwritten notes too and I could conduct a phone conversation with my headset on with no unseemly panting, whatever the speed. Reading onscreen or watching video was fine, although guiding the mouse to browse the web proved tricky.
The treadmill does not incline and I would have liked to be able to jog or run when the office was empty. LifeSpan says the aim is to reduce sedentary time rather than allow cardiovascular workouts and enabling an incline would put the body in poor alignment for work.
However, just standing rather than sitting at a desk can burn three to five times more calories and, after an hour of browsing, note-taking and typing at various speeds, I discovered I had walked more than 3km and burnt 250 calories.
Of course, I needed a sit-down with tea and biscuits to recover from the shock of this news, but it also left me feeling a work-walk balance was within my grasp.
- THE PROBLEM
I have been a Nokia/Symbian user. I have previously been impressed by the quality of Nokia's units, the "real phone not a slate" form and the qwerty keyboard on my E75. This smartphone has become a bit flaky for me, but what do I upgrade to? - Graham Miller, Haywards Heath, UK
- THE ANSWER
It sounds like you would definitely want a physical qwerty keyboard, something that Nokia has not included so far in its new Lumia line. A Nokia E7 or even an E5 would be the safest choice at this point.
© 2012 The Financial Times Limited
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