## Tl;dr: I like the unit and recommend it, with the caveat that long form writing may be difficult.

(Yes, I have a giant mural of Fenway Park next to my desk)

According to my Google Docs spreadsheet (I’ll get to that), I’ve walked just shy of 61 miles on my Lifespan 1200DT / DT-5 treadmill desk. Since taking delivery, I’ve been in the office for sixteen days, thus averaging a bit below four miles per day with a high of 9.64 and a low of 1.63—the delivery came late that first day. Calorically, the treadmill desk claims to have burned off almost 10,000 calories, or a bit fewer than 600 daily. It’s been only a month, so definitive statements about usage over time can’t be made, but thus far a treadmill desk has fit into my workday seamlessly.

The first I can recall hearing about a treadmill/desk hybrid was in 2006 when Brad Feld wrote about his. Candidly, I found the concept outlandish at the time. It seemed like a set up made possible only by Brad’s stature and the nature of his profession; when people are asking you for money, rather than vice versa, they’re likely to be more accommodating.

Over the years, however, demand for treadmill desks has increased to the point that there are commercial options like the Lifespan—several of them, in fact—and major media outlets are beginning to cover the trend (see the Atlantic, BBC, or NPR). Part of the demand, of course, derives from the increasingly dire warnings about the health risks of prolonged sitting. The dire warnings being one of the primary reasons I’d been considering the idea more seriously over the past year or so. It was Neal Stephenson’s 2012 piece “Arsebestos” in his collection Some Remarks, however, that pushed me over the edge. He’s rather unequivocal in his advocacy:

Let us be clear about the import of this research. It’s not just that a bit of exercise is a good thing. It’s not the usual suggestion that deskbound office workers might want to spend a few minutes out of every hour on leisurely stretching activities. What we have here is hard scientific data telling us that if you sit for any significant amount of time per day, it will kill you. Maybe with a heart attack, maybe with a stroke, maybe with cancer, maybe with diabetes. The reaper comes for those who sit.

Even if one concedes that some of the risks of sitting are overstated (remember when eating eggs was considered dangerous?), and that the risks of alternatives are underappreciated, it can’t be argued that the basic metabolic exchange of sitting for walking is a positive one. Particularly if you do a lot of sitting, which I have to—or had to, I guess—to be any good at my job.

While I don’t care to speculate on the relative fitness of treadmill desks for wider adoption (I don’t, for example, agree that they’re for everyone), nor whether they will prove to be another passing healthcare fad (a more expensive version of the thighmaster), after a month with one I’m comfortable commenting on my usage. For those considering the jump, here are some thoughts on the pro’s and con’s of the device.

# Issues

• Over the month I’ve had the unit, it has locked up twice displaying a “DC – 1″ error, and Googling that error message has been generally unhelpful. A simple power cycle of the machine is enough to remedy things, but I’ll be opening a ticket with Lifespan to make sure I don’t have a real problem on my hands.

• This is probably a complaint relatively unique to my setup, but I do wish the desktop space was slightly larger. It’s 46.75″ x 36.5″, which means that with my 30″ monitor centered, my second 27″ monitor has to be closer to perpendicular to me than is ideal. I have to turn enough to view the second monitor, in fact, that it affects my gait on the treadmill. Another inch or two would allow me to use a much more shallow angle and thereby improve the usability. I may eventually try to mount an arm on the desktop surface or even do away with the second monitor entirely, but in the interim, it’s a bit crowded.

• My only other real complaint is connectivity and data access. My unit is equipped with Bluetooth, which theoretically should be able to sync data to my phone or laptop. As far as I can tell, however, my treadmill will only talk to the LifeSpan app, which I can only get if I’ve joined the “LifeSpan Fitness Club.” I’m hoping that LifeSpan will eventually open up access to their APIs and allow integration with other services, be they Nike+, FitBit (I’m contemplating a FitBit Flex) or otherwise. LifeSpan clearly makes excellent quality fitness equipment; I have less confidence in their ability to build and grow a competitive software and services business. So in the interim, I’m manually recording all of my statistics in a Google Doc spreadsheet.

• One discovery made a result of getting the treadmill/desk is that there is one live/work space in my office building, and that it happens to be the unit directly below me. After using the unit late one night, I had a visit from the downstairs tenant the next morning. Fortunately, he was quite understanding cancelling particularly about usage during the day canceling but it remains an issue. I’ve cushioned the legs of both treadmill and desk with hard furniture pads and some vibration absorbant under-carpet material from Home Depot, but if I’m to use the unit at night I’ll probably need a different approach. Or an office on the first floor.

# The Verdict

Overall, I’m very happy with the purchase. Whether or not the “SITTERS DIE” academic studies prove to be completely correct or not, turning what would otherwise be sedentary portions of my day into periods of at least mild exercise is a win in my book. In spite of the issues just mentioned above, it’s my opinion that the 1200DT / DT-5 is a good value for the money. It is a solidly built and easy to use piece of hardware that can improve your overall health without negatively impacting your productivity. If budget permits, then, I’d recommend it.

Disclosure: There’s nothing to disclose. This was not a review unit, but one purchased straight from retail.

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