Typing 85 WPM at 2 MPH

Everybody knows walking to work is good exercise. Mixing up your sitting and standing workday with a couple miles at a treadmill desk helps shake out those ya-ya's, without causing a distraction. Here's how one savvy office gets those stiff hips moving and their workday energized.

I really enjoyed keyboarding class in high school. (I know, I know—but, really, I did.) The precision with which my fingers could flit over the QWERTY keyboard, without looking, at ever-speedier words per minute (WPM) was a fun personal competition. Now, as an editor, writer, interview-transcriber and daily emailer, those speedy WPMs have proved useful every workday.

Typing at 2mph

I have a new way I measure my work pace: mph. I don’t have a speed goal, but I do have a health, mental wellness, clarity and, ultimately, slow goal. In our shared space office at Bark Media, we have a Lifespan treadmill situated under one desk. Our four team members all spend time on the treadmill, rotating based on tasks and energy level from the treadmill, to the desks with standing mats, to the desks with chairs—all made much more convenient because of our laptops and Jarvis adjustable standing desks.

As much as I have enjoyed working at a standing desk, I didn’t expect to be able to work well while walking on a treadmill. I worried about tripping, being too focused on walking to focus on my screen, getting dizzy looking at my screen while walking—I was open and interested in trying it out, but ultimately skeptical.

It's all about mixing it up

When I was sitting at a desk all day, my energy level was low and I developed regular lower back pain. When I started mixing in periods of standing at my desk during the workday, my energy level improved, my back pain was reduced, but I developed stiffness in my hips. Adding walking for a couple of hours of my workday gives me the chance to shake out any stiffness and forces me to reset my posture, whether I’m sitting or standing.

Hot tips, cool tricks

If you are interested in walking while you work, here are a few suggestions and learnings from the fully mobile Bark Media team:

  1. Start slow. It’s not that you can’t walk quickly and work, but you likely won’t work well (too distracted by the walking), and you’ll warm up to a perhaps uncomfortable level… if not for you, then perhaps for your officemates. Also, you’ll probably want to, at least at the beginning, walk for short periods of your day and then work up to longer periods—if that’s your thing.
  2. Dress for movement (and in layers). Because you’ll warm up while you’re walking and cool down when you are standing or sitting, keep a cardigan or sweater at the office and dress a little cooler for your treadmill sessions. And definitely wear logical shoes.
  3. Pick the right tasks. Taking phone calls is a good task to handle while walking, especially if you have a wireless headset. Repetitive tasks, emailing, messaging or Slacking—those sorts of daily to-dos are easy to transition to doing while mobile. Reading articles, research and web browsing are also good options. For us, the writing of a new story is the hardest task to do in motion, as is a hard edit on a story. Tasks that require deep focus don’t work as well for us while we’re on the move—but that may not be true for you.
  4. Don’t forget water. This is really for any preferred work setting, but we find ourselves feeling parched more often when working on the treadmill.
    Do coworker recon. A treadmill isn’t silent, and neither are your footfalls. Ask your officemates who work in close proximity to your desk to determine how to be thoughtful and not too distracting, and whether there are times when it would be best to sit or stand rather than walk based on their schedules.
  5. Get ready to feel amazing. Moving throughout the day has been shown to offer greater health benefits than standing all day or exercising for one concentrated hour. By walking off and on throughout the day, you reduce your risk of chronic pain and several chronic diseases.