Article by Daniel Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., ABPP
Wellspring Clinical Director
According to Mike Yamamoto of the gadget review website Crave, “This tortuous apparatus is essentially a standing-height desk attached to a treadmill, combining work with exercise for the ultimate in multi-tasking. Made by office furniture company Steelcase, the Walkstation is scheduled to make its formal debut in March for a reported price of $6,500. (That would pay for a lot of time at the gym, not to mention doughnuts.)”
Unlike the Crave reporter, who views movement as torture, weight controllers know that the only way to lose weight or maintain weight that was lost is to move, move a lot, and to do that consistently. At Wellspring Academies, Camps, Community Programs and Retreats, we target a minimum of 10,000 steps per day as measured on a pedometer, or similar levels of energy expenditure from activities like swimming or using exercise equipment (like treadmills and elliptical machines).
Research shows that three aspects of activities lead people to maintain them effectively. Let’s consider each of them to develop an educated guess about the usefulness of this new device.
- Convenience: Is the activity easily accessed every day? Walking certainly works this way. The Walkstation makes movement especially convenient for those who normally spend a lot of time just sitting at a desk.
- Social: People maintain activities better if they can do them with other people. The Walkstation is solitary. So, it doesn’t have the social aspect of some exercise situations going for it.
- Likeability: Do you like doing it? Tennis players and golfers and other sport enthusiasts typically love playing their sports. People who walk for exercise may like it too, but usually not with the passion of committed players of various sports. Walking while working on your computer or telephone may not appeal to a lot of people – at least not as a regular part of their lives. This aspect of exercise may work for some sedentary people, but possibly not for most.
Another aspect of the Walkstation that deserves attention is its price. At $6,500, it’s obviously a significant investment. However, Consumer Reports (December, 2007) recently evaluated some logical alternatives that cost far less. They rated the Epic View 550 (see www.epicfit.com), for example, as a “Best Buy.” It is a treadmill that folds up, includes a fan, a port for digital music devices, and a 7″ TV screen built into its console. Epicfit.com currently sells these machines, rated high in ease of use and ergonomics, for $1,300 (with free shipping).
So for $1,300, you’d get a high quality treadmill that could fold up. You could probably add a magazine rack to the console and place your computer right there to use it while you walk. Many treadmills provide options for such racks that can work with some laptops.
In the alternative, for the price of a few layers of runners’ high tech clothing (at a cost of $500), you could strap on your digital player or radio and just walk out the front door for a few miles in most climates, most days of the year. In this case, if you wanted to match the uses of the Walkstation at a far lower price, you could consider walking to an Internet coffee shop with your computer in tow. Take a break during your walk, have a skim-milk based drink, and work on your computer, before heading back home.