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Kristen Aiken

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My 7-Hour Workday On The Treadmill Desk

Posted: 08/22/11 02:39 PM ET

My desk wields a black hole of sluggishness against which I have no power. After eight or nine hours, it becomes a dark place that destroys my very soul. The only solution is to escape it, so to say I was excited about an all-day TreadDesk excursion would be a wild understatement.

For years now, I've been publicly verbalizing that I'd give anything to install a treadmill at my desk. I never imagined such a thing would exist, or that I'd have to put my money where my mouth is. But just like French fry oil-fueled cars and 3-D television, here it is. The future is now. If I didn't try this out, I'd be a hypocrite of massive proportions.

As far as my physical fitness background goes, I've played sports for my entire life. I've been known to break noses in volleyball, and I will never -- I repeat, never -- let you pass me on the track at the YMCA, despite the fact that I'm an incompetent runner and am probably about to have a heart attack. You might say I'm mildly competitive.

My gamesmanship isn't limited to the gym. As a pavement-pounding New Yorker, I take it to the streets, even belonging to a Facebook group called "I Secretly Want To Punch Slow-Walking People In The Back Of The Head."

So whereas I wasn't worried about fatigue on the TreadDesk, my concern was for my ability to work. I pride myself on my multi-tasking abilities, and except for one dramatic fall down Barnard College's cafeteria steps (with a tray full of nachos), I'm relatively coordinated. But I feared this would challenge my skills.

Here's how it played out:

8:30 a.m.: I walk one-and-a-quarter miles to the office. This is part of my daily routine, and stupidity prevents me from instead taking a cab.

9:15 a.m.: TreadDesk ready, Kristen ready. Orange Gatorade in hand! (A great excuse to drink what I feel is a generally looked-down-upon beverage.) I start walking at 1.7 miles per hour, fearing anything faster will tax my typing skills.

9:36 a.m.: A man walks past me and raises his eyebrows. What does that mean??? I suddenly develop a complex.

10:00 a.m.: I field a brainstorming meeting with a colleague, who immediately laughs upon seeing me. Upside: My brain seems to be functioning more clearly than usual! Downside: My colleague just laughed at me.

10:46 a.m.: I've finished all the duties I normally finish by noon. I'm guessing this is because there's no one here to distract me by talking about last night's episode of Project Runway.

11:00 a.m.: I speed up to 2.3 miles per hour. This slow-walking thing is driving me nuts.

11:03 a.m.: I wonder how many hours of my life I have sat at a desk or in a classroom. I post the question on Facebook, and my cousin immediately answers it. I've been sitting for approximately four solid years. Depression looms.

11:04 a.m.: I begin to wonder how Chuck Taylor ever made it through an entire basketball game in these shoes.

11:08 a.m.: Two small children walk past me and say, "What a great system. Walking while you're working!" I am confused and bewildered by their maturity.

1:12 p.m.: Starvation wins. After racking up 7.70 miles, I walk a quarter-mile to Washington Square Park, scarf down lunch, and walk another quarter-mile back to the office.

1:43 p.m.: I'm back on the treadmill with a glistening red Gatorade and a new lease on life! (I told you I love Gatorade.) Back to work.

2:13 p.m.: Increase speed to 3.2 miles per hour, a much more realistic pace for me.

2:48 p.m.: I constantly complain about being freezing in the office, but not today. Problem solved. Thanks, TreadDesk!

2:50 p.m.: An inconspicuous gawker becomes very conspicuous when he trips over a curtain while turning his head to watch me walk.

2:54 p.m.: I speed up to 3.5 miles per hour, with a goal in mind of walking a half-marathon (13.1 miles) before I have to stop walking for my 4:00 meeting.

3:30 p.m.: I start to realize I'm not doing anything very special. People do this all the time. Mail men, dog walkers, mall cops.

3:50 p.m.: I reach 14 miles and stop the treadmill to cool down before my meeting. I feel wildly charged with energy and am actually dreading sitting in an air-conditioned conference room for two hours.

5:45 p.m.: Meeting over, and I'm surprisingly mobile! I walk the one-and-a-quarter miles back home and revel in my glory. I have a strong urge to dance when George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" pops up on my iTunes playlist, but stifle the compulsion and instead take a long bath in Epsom salts to ward off what I imagine will be a world of pain tomorrow.

The Next Morning: I awake to nothing but some vaguely swollen feet (stupid Chuck Taylors). In celebration, I go on a dancing rampage through my tiny apartment. And of course, I am unaware of the ogling bystanders on the roof across the street for the first 30 minutes or so. They got a pretty good show.

In summary, I would happily walk on the TreadDesk again, provided I'm in relatively good health. It made me even more productive than usual, thanks to the fact that there was no one to talk to, and also due in part to the laser-focus it takes to prevent falling to an awkward death. I love you, TreadDesk.