Testing the FitDesk: an update

Last week I posted on testing the FitDesk. Here’s an update.

I discovered I had mounted the desktop backward. I had assembled it intuitively and then thought the velcro for attaching the electronic monitor was missing. I held the laptop in place with the giant rubber bands the company provided.

Later, I saw a piece of velcro on what I thought was the wrong side, and the little wheels in my mind started turning. I got out the instructions, looked at the photo, and sure enough, the fat end of the desktop is closer to the rider.

Here’s a photo with it mounted correctly, electronic monitor attached:

FitDesk

This way, there’s a slight ledge that you can’t really see but can feel on the desktop (which is made of dense foam covered with cloth) that will keep your laptop from sliding off. Although giant rubber bands are included, I did not find them necessary to hold my laptop in place with the desktop mounted correctly.

Note: I didn’t really use the electronic monitor. I just looked at the clock or set a timer on my iPhone and pedaled for a set length of time. Since I’m not using it to meet fitness goals, I found it more of a bother.

FitDesk pocketThis way of mounting the desktop also places the pockets closer to the rider. I used my iPhone to take these photos, but when not in use, I store it in one of the pockets, with Post-Its and writing instruments in the other pocket.

My friend Edward Spurlock tested it out. He adjusted the seat to fit his leg length. He is a cyclist and concurred with me that the FitDesk is not comparable in quality with exercise bikes at the gym (which are built for heavy, nearly constant use mimicking hills and so on). But for simply keeping your legs active while doing computer work, it’s great.

(Note: I took the photo below before figuring out the right way to mount the desktop!)

Edward monitored calories burned using an app called BodyBugg and reported the following:

I spent the entire interval from 12:42 PM to 12:48 PM turning the pedals on the FitDesk and burned 23 calories total during that time.

By comparison, I highlighted and selected the interval from 1:06 to 1:12 PM, when I was sitting in stop-and-go traffic on IH35 on my way home. The ‘Bugg registered a total of 8 calories burned for the interval, or around 1.4 calories / minute.

I usually burn 1.2 – 1.4 calories per minute on a normal workday sitting at my desk. If I used the FitDesk for a longer period, I might have slowed down a bit – but I think it’s fair to assume that one would burn at least twice as many calories turning the pedals and holding one’s body upright using the FitDesk than sitting still in the standard office chair with backrest.

Two to four calories per minute is pretty good compared to 1.2 – 1.4. You could definitely lose weight/eat more delicious food using a FitDesk regularly!

And finally, I want to report that the FitDesk does seem very feasible for use in an actual office wearing actual office clothing. I rode it for 30 minutes with the pedal tension set to 1 (no tension). You may remember that my first test was for an hour with the tension set midway at 4. I got sweaty then.

I did not sweat using the lowest setting, which is pretty remarkable considering I keep my trailer a bit warmer than the typical 72 degree setting found in most offices, closer to 76.

So I would say that the FitDesk is a desirable option in an office setting as well as for working at home.

Check out my tips for improving your health while sitting less (written while pedaling on a FitDesk)!

12 ways to improve your health by sitting less (written while pedaling on a FitDesk)

If you commute (usually sitting) to a desk job (mostly sitting) and then go home and watch television (sitting) and/or spend a lot of time on your computer (sitting), even if you manage to work in an hour at the gym, your health is at risk.

You can Google to learn more about the science of this — and they’re just beginning to learn. I’m just here to give free advice on behavioral changes you can make.

To counteract all the sitting, you could consider:

  1. Cutting the car commute and work from home as much as possible. Seriously. Present this option to your manager as a way to cut their costs, improve your health, and therefore make you more productive!
  2. If you can’t avoid car commuting, every time you’re at a red light or stop sign or gridlocked in a traffic jam, stretch your legs, and tense and relax them several times. Really pull the muscles to the bone. (Okay, that’s the yoga teacher in me talking.) Point and flex your feet and rotate your ankles.
  3. Take public transportation and stand during your commute, a la New York City subway riders.
  4. Bicycle to and from work, or combine biking with riding the bus or light rail. Many now have bike racks available. You may want to request that your workplace provide showering facilities.
  5. At work, take frequent breaks (1-2 minutes every 20 minutes) to stand up and walk around. Set a timer and do it. Go get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, stretch, shake the tension out of your body, do a forward bend to stretch the backs of your legs. Walk to the best view from your building and partake of it to refresh your spirit.
  6. Sit on an exercise ball. You have to use your legs to balance. You can also bounce when no one is watching. It will strengthen your core muscles because there’s no back — you have to hold your torso up. This will burn more calories, if you’re interested in doing that.
  7. Instead of emailing, texting, or phoning, walk over to a colleague’s office to communicate with him/her. I know, I know, this is really analog, but it’s also refreshing. Think of how much more information you get from seeing their face and hearing their voice in person. You might even learn something about them from seeing their office decor.FitDesk
  8. Persuade your office to invest in a FitDesk. One FitDesk shared among eight employees sounds like a great start. I imagine 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon would make a big difference in the health and longevity of those eight employees, especially if they’re doing some of these other things when not pedaling. Of course, if your office can afford it, get a FitDesk for every employee! If you can’t afford it, you could phase this in over time as finances allow, as employees using it report they’re feeling better, missing less work, being in better moods, and being more productive, improving the company’s bottom line. Hey, maybe this is the key to the economic recovery and the obesity epidemic! FitDesks for every employee!
  9. When you get home, turn off the TV and computer and do something that uses your legs: cook, go for a walk, clean house, garden, do yard work, do yoga, lift weights, kick box, have sex, play with the dog, take a shower, swing your kids around, give them piggy-back rides, roughhouse, dance, put on a show. Also known as “living life” and “being embodied”.
  10. If you can’t eliminate TV or video games or Facebook or whatever is so compelling on your computer (okay, blogging and Facebook for me), limit it to an hour (with a break every 20 minutes; see #5 above) and get up during commercials unless you are on your feet while watching. Or…
  11. Get a FitDesk for your home so you can move your legs while watching TV and being on the computer.
  12. Do this with other people. It will be more fun.

Making the world a healthier place, one blog post at a time…