So I’ve been using my treadmill desk for about a week now (I’m typing this while walking). Here are some unexpected benefits, in addition to the ones I was expecting:
- It chains me to the computer, because it’s enough of a pain to get it stopped and started again that I’ll say, “Whatever, I’ll just go another 15 minutes before I quit for the morning.”
- It’s making me stick to a schedule. I decided that on the days I go to the gym (three days a week, when I can), I’ll do a two-hour session on the treadmill. On the days that I don’t—two two-hour sessions. There’s no way I’m going to do it in the evening, so I get it done early. At least so far.
- I get pleasantly tired but not exhausted, so I sleep better.
Am I being more productive? Yes, but I don’t know if that’s because of the aforementioned chaining to the computer, or to the neuroscience that seems to indicate that sitting clamps down the creative side of your brain. Think about it—lots or people pace when they think, right? Lecturers stand, and often move, when lecturing. Good teachers move around the room as they teach. OK, some of that is to make sure their students aren’t on Facebook, but it also seems to liberate the brain.
One scientist pointed out that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to be creative the whole time they were moving in order to survive: “If the mastodon goes that way, Urk should go this way and head it off,” “Hey, this rotten milk tastes pretty good with that spoiled grape juice!” “The seeds under the bird’s nest grew better than the others—I’ll try putting bird poop on all of them next spring.” Once they could finally sit down at the campfire, their brains took the opportunity to grab some much-needed rest.
So it’s possible that we’re hard-wired to think better when we walk. It couldn’t hurt, anyway, so I’ll keep on doing it and let you know what happens.