Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tweaking the Treadmill Desk

I've been using my treadmill desk for a while and have been very happy with it. I don't know if it unleashes creativity, as some have claimed, but it sure doesn't hamper it, and it feels good not to sit all day.

I had thought that I wouldn't want to move my laptop from desk to treadmill desk and back again every time I switched workspaces, so I bought a remote keyboard and mouse and hung a monitor in front of the treadmill. There's no such thing--yet--as a remote monitor, so I attached it by a long cable to the laptop, which I left on the regular (non-treadmill) desk across the room. (You should probably look at the photos here to see what I'm talking about.)

For a while, all was well.

Then a few weeks ago I started having problems with the remote keyboard and mouse. The cursor would freeze up occasionally, and when I typed, sometimes nothing would appear on the screen for a long time and when it did, the text was garbled and full of repeated letters. I thought maybe the signal was weak this far from the laptop, so I moved them right next to each other and tried again. Same problem.

This is a highly rated and reasonably priced system, and when it started doing this I re-checked its reviews on Amazon. There aren't many 1-star reviews, but almost every one of them references this issue.

Plus the monitor has never been satisfactory. It isn't the monitor's fault; it's the fault of being connected to the laptop by fifteen feet of cable. This made it fuzzy, and while the text was perfectly legible, the lack of clarity was irritating.

And while I had carefully figured out how high the keyboard should be, I must have miscalculated, and it's too low. I've avoided carpal tunnel syndrome and similar ailments despite years of marathon typing and marathon knitting, and I don't want to risk messing up my wrists.

The upshot: I ditched the remote hardware, found a shorter cable that eliminates the screen fuzz, and moved the laptop over to the treadmill. I set in on a book to raise it to the correct height, which took a few tries. The Oxford Classical Dictionary is a wee bit too high. The Chicago Manual of Style (I know it's available on-line; I prefer the print edition, okay?) is a wee bit too low. The Sansoni Italian-English dictionary is just right. And to think that I almost left it behind in the office-book culling!


  1. Hi Tracy,
    When you got your treadmill desk you inspired me to rig one up a well. Due to unrelated problems with my achilles tendons, I have only just started using it regularly in the last month or so. I love it because I had been dealing with lots of health issues due to years of sitting at my

    I, too, am using several books to get my monitor at the correct height-two encyclopedias--which I haven't used in decades. I am sticking with a desktop computer on the treadmill because 95% of time that is where I write.

    I have a couple questions for you. What speed do you generally set your treadmill on? And how much time do you spend on it each day? Do you take breaks, etc. I'm physically fit, but have had some injuries like the achilles problems and so I generally haven't gone more than an hour a day so far. Am gradually increasing.


    1. Mary, I don't know what speed I go at because the treadmill I bought is such a piece of garbage (didn't want to invest money in something before I knew if I'd like it) and was used to boot, and no matter what speed I set it on it goes fast and slow at its own whim. Pretty slow, though.
      I recently read that the optimal schedule is two hours on, two hours off. I don't usually do two hours at a time because I have to hop off to get a reference book or take the dog out or whatever, but I do set that as an upper limit.

  2. Thanks, Tracy!
    I scored with a very cheap used treadmill which is like new! I have increased to two hours in the last couple of days and will probably not go above that for awhile. See how it goes.

  3. I think I need to make another tweak: I should replace the treadmill. I found an inexpensive one that people sometimes give low ratings to because they say it's good only for walking (fine) and that it has a maximum user weight of "only" 300 lbs. (also fine).