Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Readers, I need treadmill advice, please

A few days ago I wrote about elevated desks, the kind one can use standing or seated, and asked whether any readers had used them, and if so, how they'd found them. As a result of some responses, I found that there are things called 'treadmill desks', which combine a treadmill for exercise with a shelf or desk top on which one can put a computer monitor and keyboard. The idea is that one can walk gently (at about 1 mph - nothing too strenuous) while typing.

This sounded like a very useful idea, one that would both give me exercise and allow me to work without long hours in a chair, which creates a higher risk for deep vein thrombosis and other health problems. A Google search on 'treadmill desk' revealed a number of Web sites about them, and a number that are offered for sale.

However, most of the latter seem extraordinarily expensive, and their advertising is very short on details about the strength, longevity, etc. of the treadmills concerned.

I found two sites, Treadmill Doctor and The Treadmill Sensei, that provide excellent reviews and advice about treadmills. They seem to agree that the cheaper treadmills - the sort sold at supermarkets - simply aren't strong enough to stand up to prolonged usage of the sort I'll be doing. They reckon that buying a cheap treadmill simply isn't worth it. On the other hand, I'm on a disability pension - I can't afford a commercial-strength treadmill, no matter how much I might want one!

That leads me to ask for your input, readers. Who among you owns and/or uses a treadmill on a regular basis? Based on your experience, what treadmill make(s) and/or model(s) would be suitable for use as the foundation for a 'treadmill desk'? They wouldn't be worked overly hard (I'd set the treadmill to about 1 mph, on a slight upward incline), but they'd have to function for three to four hours a day, seven days a week, for a long time. I simply can't afford to buy something that'll burn out after only a few months of such use. Apart from which brand(s) and model(s) might be suitable, what else should I watch out for? The less maintenance involved, the better (apart from routine lubrication, etc.).

Also, any suggestions as to where I should look to buy one? I've found many offered on Craigslist, for example, but on investigation most turn out to be the cheap supermarket variety - the sort that won't stand up to long-term heavy usage. There are some that claim to be reconditioned commercial units, but these either require a dedicated 220V. circuit (which I don't have in my present lodgings), or use some esoteric brand name that I can't find reviewed in any online source. In the absence of an impartial review that'll give me some idea of their quality, I'm reluctant to invest several hundred dollars in one of them.

(As to the desk part, that's relatively simple. I can put a bookcase up in front of the treadmill, and mount the monitor on a shelf. The only things that'll have to go on the treadmill's 'handle-bars' are the keyboard and mouse, and to make a shelf fitting over the treadmill control panel to hold those two items is no trouble at all. I'm not going to spend a lot of money on a custom-built treadmill desk when a DIY solution is so much cheaper.)

I'd be very grateful for your advice and input, readers. Thanks in advance.



Anonymous said...

Could it be that you're looking the wrong way around?
Instead of a treadmill, and pedal tread machine? What I mean is taking the old tread powered sewing machine, The one's where the worker sat at the sewing machine and pumped a treadle with his/her legs to power the sewingmachine. You'd be sitting down but the entire leg from hip to toe would be flexing and moving. Either setting up an salvaged antique sewing machine (search sewing history sites for exact model/mfr's) to just pump away against a flwheel, or setting it up so it rotates a generator to produce additional or enough electricity to power the computer and screen.

Peter said...

No, thanks, I don't want an old sewing machine - I want a treadmill.

Stranger said...

Peter, I doubt that Dr. John Beaman's "Walking is not the best exercise" is at your library but there is one point that I agree with.

Walking is a darn poor way to exercise. It does not matter whether your walking is point to point or on a belt. Walking is hard on both the knees and hips, and one spoonful of sugar will provide more energy than a days walking will consume.

On the other hand - we all get dead set on something and no amount of discussion will change our minds. If a dose of tincture of time does not cure the urge - try the classifieds.

In this economy many "health clubs" are shuttering and there are large quantities of used machines for sale.


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

I've also read that "barely used" home stuff comes on the market in the mid-late winter, as people abandon their New Year's resolutions; and when the weather warms up in spring and people move their exercise outside.

What about a hospital which was replacing theirs?

Diamond Mair said...

Also, with DVT a concern, have your docs recommended compression "stockings"/socks? The FodGuy's saphenous veins are shot {valves not allowing return bloodflow - he has rather extreme edema as a result}, & the cardiologist in Mexico got him started wearing them - they're NOT cheap for socks {~$20.00/pair}, but if you get a prescription for them from your doc, they SHOULD be untaxed {at least until ObamaCare takes full hold} - also, they DO help preclude/alleviate edema & concurrent DVTs on long flights - I learned THAT from personal experience .............................

Semper Fi'

Crucis said...

Be sure to try out the treadmill before you buy. My wife bought one a few years ago. It's slowest speed was much faster than my normal walking pace.

I couldn't use it. We now have another one from Golds that works well. I'd still prefer a minimum speed slower than the one we have but at least this one is usable.

Out model does have a niche/shelf. My wife has a small portable radio perched there but it not big enough to a monitor and keyboard.

Treadmills can get pricey very quickly.

smartdogs said...

Find a store in a good sized city that sells used exercise equipment and tell them you are looking for a reconditioned commercial treadmill.

Good commercial treadmills (not crappy hotel models) are built to a much higher standard than generic treadmills made for home use.

Twelve years ago we spent the money to buy a new Landice commercial treadmill. My husband, who is not a small man, has run on hard on this machine for 45 to 90 minutes almost every day since then. I walk on it a few times a week and once in a while I put a dog on it.

We've had it serviced twice, once when we moved and again when there was a problem with the mat sticking. Cost was about a hundred per service - and the machine still runs like it did when it was new. We do very minimal maintenance on it. I dust it periodically and we oil it once a year or so.

If you want something that will last, and have some resale value if you take decent care of it, this is what you want.

Oh - and ours has a platform you can put a large book or laptop on.