DIY Treadmill Desk: Daily Effortless Exercise

January 20th, 2015 § 0 comments


I LOVE my DIY treadmill desk! I finally found an effortless way to exercise which means I just reached one of my hardest goal to exercise daily from my Top Goals List.

After hacking my treadmill into a desk, exercise takes no conscious effort. I have lost about 1-2 lbs and 1 3/8″ around my waist in about one month. I am surprised by my perseverance and urge to walk more and more, there’s immediate improvements to my health and  it’s really easy to incorporate into my daily routine. Exercise has always been a challenge for me. I have millions of excuses for not exercising although I know it’s good for me. I’ve tried countless forms of exercise with abundant failures and guilt for not persevering.

I work from home with a job that requires me to sit in front of a computer over 8 hours a day. After work I love to watch movies online. My bottom was to glued to a chair until I finally went to bed in the late hours. Even if I hadn’t read any articles about how sitting is the new treading killer, I could feel deteriorating changes in my body. Visible fat were building up especially in my belly. I had numbness in my feet, arms and fingers. There were odd pains in the tips of my fingers and toes tips and strong headaches at the top of my head. I was always sleepy after eating and was always feeling very tired during the day. Insomnia is also a big problem that’s been following me for over 5 years.

My longest track record of exercise was about two months which took all my willpower and self  discipline. I lost 1-2lbs and slimmed down a bit. Not long after doing two favorite forms of exercise, jump rope and slow jogging, I developed ankle and knee pains. I had to stop. In October 2014, I decided to pick up on exercise and hoping to stick with it. This time I started really slow, jumping at 30sec sets days and hoping to build better muscle support. Within a week or two the pains started again. I was not happy and didn’t know what to do. Upon hearing the success story of a friend who lost 20 lbs using the elliptical, a low impact exercise, I decide to do some research. Most elliptical had a large stride. The elliptical that fit me, 4’10.5″ tall, had a steeper price.

While contemplating health vs money in my research I found a video online with a man using a treadmill desk. My eyes bulged at his before and after picture. He had lost 80 lbs in a year!  He walk at a very slow speed, 1-2 mph, while working. When he got tired he stood while working. He was using, LifeSpan Fitness TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk, it is costs $1,499.00 !!! Again the question was money or health??? A huge investment to consider and commit to. I didn’t know if this type of exercise would cause any problems for me or if I could stick with it. I had issues with walking / running on a treadmill and preferred walking and running outside. The bulkiness of the desk and treadmill would make returning it a pain.

Some people online hacked their treadmill into a treadmill desk and I thought I’d give it a try. I had an old treadmill sitting in dust. I was super determined to follow his steps. Not greedy, just 10 lbs and my health back is all I ask.

My DIY treadmill desk hack:

I found a piece of thin board that fit across the treadmill, some leftover 1″ x 2″ boards to block the board from sliding down, and enough wires and plastic strings to wrap and hold the 1″ x 2″ boards together. I used our swamp cooler to hold the monitor and laptop in front of the treadmill. It was the perfect height for my monitor. Use whatever works for your treadmill, be creative. Just as long as it’s sturdy, anything would work.

Using the treadmill desk:

My normal speed in the first 2-3 weeks was about 0.5 – 0.8 mph. Then I slowly increased to 1.0 – 1.4 mph. In the beginning I had to adjust the time and speed a lot to make my ankles and knees comfortable. My goal was to exercise long terms and was not rushing for results. I found 1.3 mph to be the most comfortable speed to watch videos, email, talk on the phone, and some repeating tasks. I can walk about 2-3, 1 hr, sessions throughout the day now. In the beginning I over did it and cut back on the duration and sessions until I built up to it. Most importantly I learned to pay attention to my body an sat down if i needed to rest. You can view my notes for details and progress here.


  • Amazingly, I can sleep throughout the night now.
  • I don’t feel sleepy during the day.
  • I feel more energized.
  • Concentration is better reading and learning while walking.
  • Walk 15 min after eating, at a slow speed, helps move my intestines and help with digestion. I don’t feel bloated like usual when I sit all day.
  • A dream for me. I love watching Chinese dramas. I can watch it for hours and exercise at the same time. No time wasted.
  • No guilt for not exercising, actually I want to walk more because I am fully enjoying movies.
  • Multitasking saved more time to do other things.
  • It doesn’t feel like exercising. There’s no conscious effort, time flies by really quickly.
  • I don’t dread exercise.
  • Simple exercise I can persist. My 60 days challenge is almost done and I am aiming to keep going to 90 days, 120 days, 150 days etc.  to build a healthy habit of exercise.
  • I feel more confident about my health and improvements, most if not all my symptoms had gone away.
  • I can exercise in any weather, very convenient.
  • An exercise I can keep doing until old age, as long as I can walk
  • Cost me $0 to make.


  • A bit noisy for talking on the phone.


  • Ergonomics
    • Hands should rest 90 degrees level with the keyboard
    • Monitor should be eye level and tilted up about 10 degrees
    • Stand up straight with stomach sucked in
  • Standing
    • A foam mat makes it a lot more comfortable to stand on when you are not walking
  • Shoes or No Shoes
    • Barefoot walking didn’t really go well for me although it’s suppose to be good for circulation. It’s doable at such slow speed but I was not comfortable after about a week or two.
    • Good sneakers really helped. I bought a pair of Sketchers with memory foam gel-infused sneakers. It’s been a dream to walk on and I no longer have any ankle or knee pains.
  • Don’t concentrate on lbs lost, concentrate on health improvements. The treadmill desk is meant to give you an opportunity to move more and minimized sitting time. It is not a quick way to loose weight. Some have lost lost of weight but some have lost only a few lbs in 6 months but most have more stamina and clothes fits a lot better. It is important to listen to your body cut back or walk more according to how you feel. If you don’t feel well, REST a day or more to recover before you continue.

I had an opportunity to try the LifeSpan Fitness Treadmill Desk at a local sport equipment store. there’s practically no noise at the lower speeds below 2pmh, anything above creates some noise but is nothing close to my treadmill’s noise. It also has a automatically adjustable height that is perfect for my height at the lowest setting. I will definitely invest in a treadmill desk after my DIY treadmill desk dies.

Update 4/2017

I was a bit over zealous and hurt my knees using the treadmill desk too often. You can read more about it here. Please be sensible and don’t repeat my mistake 🙁

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