How To Turn Your Workspace Into A Calorie Decimating Standing Desk or Treadmill Workstation.

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Articles, Lifestyle

It's possible that you're sitting there right now, thinking, “Why the hell would I want to stand while I'm working?”

Well, let me be frank with you: I would personally prefer to sit.

But I would also personally prefer to eat sweet potato fries every night, skip a few of my pavement-pounding runs here and there, and have a few extra glasses of wine a bit too often.

The fact is, just because you like something doesn't mean it's good for you.

And sitting is a perfect example. Here's an fabulous infographic from HowToGeek to show you what I mean:

Wow. I couldn't have said it any better than that cute and slightly disturbing infographic.

So what's the solution?

As the title of this article implies, you can simply turn your workspace into a calorie decimating standing desk or treadmill workstation.

It's really not that hard to do.

For example, you can begin at home – by simply choosing to place your computer or workspace on a counter that is comfortably high enough you to stand and work.

In my case, I use a big, old green cabinet with squeaky drawers – and expressly forbid my wife to sell my precious standing workstation cabinet (and my collection of ancient triathlon t-shirts) in any garage sale.

Here are some examples of a standing workstation from some BenGreenfieldFitness readers of this concept (and there are a plethora of other creative-juice stimulating ideas on Amazon's standing workstation page, which you can see by clicking here):

Brock's standing workstation:

Carlos's standing desk:

Emily's standing work station:

Lee's standing desk:

Wow – Emily needs to clean her desk.

But I digress.

One other quick and easy way to create a standing workspace is to simply use a height extension unit from Ikea, which is basically an extra shelf that you can put on your desk.

However, what if you want to take things one step further and design your own treadmill desk or treadmill workstation? I know several people who walk at a slow pace while at work the entire day – and I guarantee they're burning several hundred more calories each day, which can equal 1-2 extra pounds of fat a week.

Plus, you get bragging rights that you walk several miles each day while at work, or studying for school. Talk about multi-tasking…

If you're a handyman or handywoman, you can simply design your own treadmill desk. You can get full instructions by clicking here. And in case that particular design just doesn't float your boat or match your household decor, you could also design your own treadmill desk with this option instead.

Another slightly more spendy, but less time-consuming alternative would be to purchase a “done-for-you” treadmill desk.

The Treadmill Desk Signature 9000 is one option for purchasing a treadmill desk, and runs about $2000 (don't worry, there are cheaper options below if you'd if you don't have two grand to blow on your treadmilling work adventures). Here's what the Signature 9000 looks like:

At that pricepoint, I don't see that it is significantly better or different than something like the Trek Desk Treadmill Desk, which you can get at a far more palatable $479 – provided that you supply your own treadmill (I've found top-of-the-line treadmills on Craigslist for as little as $250 – just make sure you clean out the mouse nests first if you use this option).

Here's what the TrekDesk looks like:

The folks at TrekDesk even shot a cool video to show how chairs are making us fat and unhealthy, and what we can do about it:

So, what's it feel like when you're on your feet all day at a standing workstation or treadmill desk?

To be honest, my low back gets a bit tight, and sometimes my feet hurt a little bit at the end of the day.

But this is quickly remedied by A) using a foam roller on the low back at the end of the day; B) trying to be in bare feet or socks whenever possible; C) improving blood flow by wearing or using compression gear whenever possible.

As a matter of fact, while space limitations in my tiny home have kept me from “upgrading” to a treadmill desk, I strongly feel that being on my feet at my standing workstation cabinet for a 6-10 hour workday is great “cross-training” for doing something like completing an Ironman triathlon or long run, as there is certainly a great deal of stabilization training being performed for the smaller, stabilizing muscles in the feet, quads, calves and hamstrings.

What about you?

Do you have a treadmill desk or standing workstation? Or did you simply sit in your chair feeling guilty as you read this article?

Feel free to upload pictures of your active workspace to the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook page, and also leave your comments or questions below.

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28 thoughts on “How To Turn Your Workspace Into A Calorie Decimating Standing Desk or Treadmill Workstation.

  1. agentsuperfly says:

    I bought this cheap under the bike desk unit for $28. The tension is pretty use so there isn’t really any resistance but at least it’s better than nothing right? At my job I cannot install a tread mill. I work in a sea of short walled cubicals and mine is behind my managers. When I stand up to work I can see her computer screen and she doesn’t like that. I put my FitBit in my sock to see how many steps I get by using this cycling unit. It’s kind of fun, I did over 20,000 the other day just at work. What do you think of these Ben? It’s got to be better than just sitting right? And hopefully have a positive effect on my waistline. Thanks!!

    1. I like it! Just but the same as with a treadmill, don't just do that all day. The key is variety. Stand, sit, cycle, squat – move.

  2. Brad Beldon says:

    Ben where did you get the green treadmill desk with the multiple monitor stands at the top of this page?

    1. It's not mine. but I think that might be a trekdesk.

      1. Brad says:


  3. Desk Plans says:

    I rarely comment, however after browsing through a bunch of remarks on How To Turn Your Desk Into a Standing Workstation or Treadmill Desk.
    I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or does it look like some of the responses look like they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are posting on other places, I would like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  4. Brad says:

    I stand at my desk hrs a day. 3 days a week I wear a backpack with weights to really work the core. Also you can do calf raises while standing. My cowokers think I am nuts but so do my friends so its all good.

  5. Ryan says:

    Hey Ben I was looking into converting my current desk into a standing work station. I am a triathlete and do the majority of my workouts in the morning before I come into work. When I get to work my legs are a bit fatigued is it safe/healthy/okay to be standing on them day in day out after my workouts? Also…. the week of a race… would 40 hours of standing cause fatigue for a race? Thanks

    1. Fletcher Kauffman says:

      Hi, all–

      I put together a treadmill desk for just under $300 dollars ($200 walking treadmill off craig's list) and $99 standing desk from Ikea.

      I do not recommend a standing desk, personally– I don't think the body was designed for that much standing, either. My feet will begin to complain very, very quickly if I stand at my desk for even 15 minutes, but I can do walking for hours and hours.

      I also found that transition was not necessary for me (a lot of what I read recommended going from sitting desk to standing desk for a while before going to walking)– I think if I had done that, I would have found the standing terrible and never pressed on.

      I think behind-the-scenes what's happening is I've taken something engaging but unproductive (anything at the computer) and married it up to something unengaging but productive (exercise) in a way that's fooled my body to think I'm a Hunter/Gatherer again.

      1. I like it. Especially the hunter gatherer part!

  6. elizabethbattle says:

    This is great advice – thanks so much! I can't afford a fancy-pants treadmill desk, so I love the everyday tips on how you can adjust your workspace to burn more calories and stop the sitting-all-day problem. I am a writer/editor and I work from home, so this is great to know! I am sharing this info with another friend of mine who types/writes for a living, and she has major problems from sitting all the time.

  7. HarveyandVal says:

    Thank you! I am very excited to try this. I have so much trouble sitting down and sitting still so I think this will help me.

  8. Eric says:

    Thats a pretty good idea, and would be a much cheaper option. I was just thinking recumbent, because in this article one of the images said the best angle for one's back while sitting is 135 degrees, not 90, nor leaning forward, and I thought a recumbent bike would better fit that. what do think?

    1. If you're "working" (i.e. typing or reading) that's certainly true. If you're just watching TV, your back/core is stabilized just fine at a road bike angle.

  9. armilegge says:

    This was terrific. One of my stupid rhymes is "Sitting is for S@*ting, and nothing else" Sorry for the profanity, but chairs piss me off.

    One of the reasons I chose to remove myself from public school and study at home was being forced to sit for hours on end. Now I literally never sit, and am constantly moving. I liked how you mentioned it as cross training. I think a lot of athletes think that because they workout, they don't need to think about movement for the rest of the day.

    I almost burst out laughing at Tracy Andserson's comment. Seriously?

    Great work Ben

  10. Jane says:

    What a wonderful idea! Sitting down 40 hours a week sometimes is torture!!
    I heard a strange comment last weel from Tracy Anderson saying that walking and running on a treadmill would make a person bulk and that how her 'METHOD' can change 'any' women body into a tiny dancer body shape and even cheat genetics by working the small accessory muscles and cardio.
    I would love to hear your opnion.

    1. Hi Jane. Tracy Anderson's statement is not biologically sound. Walking and running are catabolic, meaning they "tear down" muscle fibers. Take a look at any Kenyan marathoner's legs to see what I mean.

      1. Eric says:

        Hey Ben, I know a lot of people on your site are endurance athletes, so catabolic is a good thing, but what if one wanted to maintain muscle mass, or was even going through a bulking phase, do you think that just walking and being active all day would sabotage that? or since walking is obviously under one's VO2 max, that it would just catabolize fat?

        1. If you had high protein diet and were doing a bunch of heavy lifting, it wouldn't be much of an issue. Otherwise, walking can still be catabolic if done in excess (i.e. 2 hour long day hikes)…however, standing and light activity is not an issue – you'll just be tapping fat.

  11. Eric says:

    What would you do if you were at home and wanted to watch a little tv, get a recumbent bike?

  12. Amy says:

    Love this!! I just graduated from college and my parents are pushing me to get a "real" job, but I just cannot handle sitting down in a desk job for 40 hours a week. Being a waitress seems like much more fun to me — at least I get to be up on my feet and walking around while at work, so that's what I'm doing for now!

    Ben: Is it bad to switch your weight around at your standing work station or should you always be centered and balanced on both feet equally? Thanks!

    1. You can shift your weight around. I'd encourage it, actually. Your back will get tight if you're staying "rooted" in one spot…

  13. Lori says:

    I didn't send you a photo of mine–but it's regular desk with a couple ikea type desk shelves on top and my laptop perched on a shoebox over that. This is my home desk so I care a bit less how it looks than if it were in an office.
    I read this article sitting down…in bed–but no worries that is not a typical day for me. I woke up pretty sick today. Hoping to be standing all day tomorrow!
    I've been using my standing desk several months and it's morphed a bit over time. I suggest if anyone is thinking about it just start brainstorming and rearranging because you can make it better later.

    1. Gotta love the shoebox trick. I often record podcasts off a shoebox in a homemade foam dampening system.

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