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A hundred lifetimes ago (in other words, before the pandemic), I spent a decent amount of time commuting. Between walks to and from the subway, walking to and from the grocery store or just walking to and from a restaurant or a friend’s apartment, I’d cover at least 3 miles a day on average, if not more.
Of course, that all changed in 2020. Working from home brought a new, more sedentary routine. I was lucky if I even took three steps, let alone 3 miles (that might be a slight exaggeration, but I think many of you can relate). My lack of movement exacerbated the aches and pains that come with being firmly in my 30s. I also found myself losing mental steam by the time the afternoon rolled around. Simply put, I felt the effects of being under-stimulated.
Then TikTok convinced me to buy a standing desk and ― most key ― a foldable treadmill.
I knew this was going to be an investment, so I spent months doing research and saving money. I had only a few requirements: The desk needed to be tall enough to accommodate my height (I’m 6 feet), and the treadmill had to be quiet and compact, since I live in an apartment.
I finally settled on the perfect combination of a FlexiSpot standing desk and a foldable WalkingPad, and don’t regret a single thing. I bought them both on Amazon, where I got them at a discount compared with their list prices.
The slim WalkingPad folds in half and comes with wheels, making storage a breeze. (I keep it under my desk when I’m not using it.) It comes with a remote control, and you can also connect to it via app. It goes up to about 3.7 mph and has two modes: automatic, which allows you to control how fast the belt goes using your feet and your own walking speed, and manual, through which you can set your walking speed using the remote.
Here’s my routine with this so far: I start my morning by putting my desk in the standing position and use the treadmill at a very leisurely pace ― around 1.5 mph. The key is to begin slow so I can get my footing. It’s surprisingly not too cumbersome trying to type while walking; if anything, it’s harder to look down and send a text. Once I feel good at my slow pace, I’ll bump it up to 2 mph or (rarely) higher. I’ll spend most of my morning walking, sit down for lunch and part of the afternoon, then go again around 3 p.m. or so.
You can’t deny the physical benefits. The first day I used the treadmill, I walked over 12,000 steps. My posture was certainly better than it would be sitting hunched over. Walking is also a low-impact way to gain the benefits of exercise; even just 21 minutes of it a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
There are mental benefits to walking during the day as well. For one, it spices up my workday. Clearing out my inbox feels more ― interesting? tolerable? ― if I’m walking while doing it. Walking also helps me burn off stress, which I have plenty of, thanks to covering COVID on a constant basis. It has also engaged my mind. I had lately found myself spacing out or needing to read the same sentences a few times before I really processed what I was reading, but I’ve noticed that when I'm walking, my focus is heightened and I tend to space out less. I’m in sort of a mental flow.
Now, I won’t ridiculously oversell you on this setup; it isn’t going to be a magical cure-all for everything that ails you. The privilege of aging means you’ll ache sometimes. There will also be some days when you don’t have the desire to stand on your feet for an extended period of time, and there will be times when the mental fatigue that comes from living through one global crisis after another won’t melt away.
But if you’re looking for a way to make working from home better on your body overall, this is it. Those who are mulling whether to upgrade their home office situation, consider this your sign. Below are the products I personally recommend. I feel they were worth every penny I spent.
The WalkingPad is perfect for those who just want a few more steps in their day. It's compact, so you can store it when you're not using it; it's quiet, so your partner or neighbors won't complain during the workday; and it comes with enough basic features to get the job done. I got mine in white, but my exact model also comes in black. The brand also has a gray option. (Note: This product does have a weight limit of 220 pounds, but there are other treadmill options with a higher limit.)
You can buy a Walking Pad S1 folding treadmill from Amazon for around $499.
I wanted a simple, motorized standing desk that matched the aesthetic in my apartment, and this FlexiSpot desk fit the bill. It has an up and down arrow on the side, which you can hold to adjust to your desired height. (Bonus: It's also great when you're sitting because you can set your desk to the proper ergonomic height. I struggle with finding desks that are tall enough for me, and I often end up looking down at my screen.) I also bought a cord management tray that we drilled underneath the desk so I didn't have a bunch of wires hanging down.
You can buy the FlexiSpot EC1 electric standing desk from Amazon for around $250.
If you're a data person, beware: Wearing your smartwatch on your wrist while using the desk treadmill won't accurately count your steps because you'll be typing and mostly resting your arm. I bought this ankle band for my Apple Watch so I could more accurately track my movement. It's soft and easy to adjust, making it a breeze to slip on and off. Your watch can still function normally with it on.
You can buy this adjustable elastic ankle band from Amazon for around $13.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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