Experience with a treadmill desk or a deskcycle?

tl;dr: Anyone have one of those? Tried both? How are they?

I sit a lot throughout the day because I spend almost all my time in front of the computer.
And it’s a problem:

  • I fall asleep when sitting down and viewing lecture recordings (Mind you, I also fall asleep when I’m physically sitting in the lecture)
  • Cold Fingers, likely because of bad blood circulation
  • all the other many many reasons sitting too much is bad

I would like to exercise more because:

  • Cardio exercise is one of the few things that are likely to help with chronic tension headaches
  • It would allow me to eat more
  • I want to build up more muscles to support my spine
  • Exercise supposedly reduces stress and although I can’t really say that I feel particularly stressed, that doesn’t mean that I’m not. And stress is another cause for chronic tension headaches.

However, I find that exercise is very boring and dull. Except for things like Dance Dance Revolution and Beat Saber. But I don’t have a VR headset so Beat Saber is out of the question. And Dance Dance Revolution is not super compatible with neighbours.

So, I lately discovered people put treadmills (small ones purely for walking) underneath standing desks or put bicycle like things underneath their sitting desks to be more active while they work at their computer.
And I think that would solve a lot of things for me:

I’m not planning on shelling out $2000 for a LifeSpan treadmill desk, I’m thinking of DYIing this which should leave me at 800€ to 900€, maybe only 400€.

The alternative would be a deskcycle knockoff for about 200€ and that’s it:

I think though that going the bike route I’d rather have something like this:

On there you sit more like on a traditional bicycle. But this bumps the price up to over 1100€ again. And I already got a desk (though not height adjustable)

Unfortunately the next store where I could actually try this stuff is in Berlin which means 10hrs of traveling. And I’d rather avoid that.

Is there perhaps someone here who got experience with this and would like to share? I’m not worried that I wouldn’t use the device – I know I’m gonna beemind it and then it won’t be a problem.

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This is really neat. I didn’t know these things existed.

Woudln’t the one in that first photo be hard to use in an office chair on wheels? :thinking:

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They come with wheel stoppers that you put underneath the wheels so they don’t slide around:

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Of course, there is also the nuclear option :wink:

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I have one for almost four years now. I have a Misfit Flash attached to it counting “steps”, which is fed to a Beeminder goal. Works nicely. Zero maintenance (except for batteries for the Misfit)
It’s a good way to be a bit active while sitting on the desk. One should still get up and walk around every 45-60’ of course.


Nice! Which one do you have? Is it a small one for underneath the table or is it more like a stand alone exercise bike? Does it get in the way? Does it have any downsides? Does it feel like on a bicycle? Do your knees bump into the table? Is the pedalling a circular or more of an elliptical motion?
Why didn’t you go for a treadmill desk setup?

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It’s the first version of the DeskCycle (still available) https://deskcycle.com/pages/products
It feels like a regular bike, the motion of your legs is similar. It comes with an lcd screen showing the count of rotations but since you don’t see it, it’s not very useful. The Misfit “integration” works much better since you can see the numbers in your phone.
They have guidance on the desk height. Depending on your own height and chair position it might be an issue or you might need to adjust your chair a bit as well.


Thanks! This sounds great! :smiley:
One more question: Do you get a reading on how many kcal you burned?

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I prototyped a standing desk in the most ghetto way possible (read: cardboard boxes) and it’s actually working great (pun intended).
I have been doing this for a few hours straight now and I really like it! It prevents the whole “sit down, relax, body shuts down, energy level dropping, fall asleep” thing and it lowers the barrier to getting up and walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

Of course I can’t emulate a treadmill, not really. I am trying to tread on the spot and to my surprise there is basically no negative impact on me getting my work done. But that’s hardly the same as actual walking which means more movement, especially of the head.

I am seriously considering turning this makeshift standing desk into a more permanent thing. I’d replace the cardboard box with a lasercut one. And I’d mount the monitors on monitor arms. Keyboard and Touchpad are already bluetooth, so no wire hassle here.


I think the deskcycle’s own tracker gives some kind of calories calculation but it’s obviously not accurate (no heart rate data), so I never used it/tracked it. I’ve thought about getting a proper Garmin cadence sensor (i have a Garmin watch) but I never justified the cost in my head.


A photo is required :smiley:


Alright! Here it is in all its glory, turned around so you can see the sophisticated support cardboard inside:


Do you use yours at a your desk? Is it a normal desk or a standing desk?

Copying from above. It’s the first version of the DeskCycle (still available) https://deskcycle.com/pages/products

This is meant to be used sitting on a chair on a normal-height desk.

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Here’s the cool thing. I don’t know about the deskcycle in particular, but if I remember my facts, good bike trainers can measure very accurately the power in watts you’re inputting in the system, and then you can very accurately estimate your calories burned as efficiency of the muscles involved in cycling is about 20% to 25%, so you just multiply the total power * time * 4 to get total calories burned. Check out the wahoo kickr, zwift, or “cycling power meter” for example.

This is much, much, much more accurate than calculations based on heart rate, which again if I remember my facts, are used in conjunction with your age, weight, estimated VOmax, estimated rest bpm and so on to estimate energy consumption.

So, in theory, if you want to do data nerdery involving calories, a smart trainer which has been reviewed as reliable and accurate, or a power meter if your place is cycling-friendly, is your best bet. You get great, accurate results.


It seems like it would be fairly simple to DIY something like this:


I don’t know how easy it would be to automate beeminding it… :thinking:

See my earlier notes about attaching any step tracker (in my case a 20$ Misfit)

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I see one additional advantage of a treadmill over a cycle: It forces you to keep going (literally). Do you ever forget to stop pedalling @apolyton? If so, what do you do about it?


If I want to do a certain amount of pedalling , except from the Beeminder goal, what I do is start a cycling activity on my Garmin watch. Knowing that an activity is running helps in not forgetting about it. Obviously the watch barely tracks anything and the amount of calories is not accurate (even with a heart rate monitor) but that’s not the point.

By the way, arguments for an under-the-desk pedal solution over a standing treadmill is that you can randomly a few seconds of pedalling without breaking away from work or even combine it with stuff you couldn’t with a treadmill, such as doing a videoconference. :slight_smile:


Dunno, I think I’d do a video conference while walking and just be that pretentious show off person who rubs their healthy lifestyle in everybody’s faces :stuck_out_tongue:
Just kidding – I’m not doing any significant amount of video conferences to worry about this anyway.

In other news: I had an idea to keep oneself pedalling. As an alternative to the “start cycling activity” method, maybe. Pretend that it’s powering your computer by having it dim the screen when you slow your pace via the brightness command.
It would not be hard to tie this to the pedalling frequency. I could get an Arduino to measure the tread and tell my Mac about it, via bluetooth for instance.

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