Now, I have to say that you can’t really use this if you are performing activities that require fine motor control – such as creating images in Visio, as I discovered to my cost. But it's easy to answer your e-mails while you walk, which is great for me because I literally receive a couple of hundred emails a day (and that's just from my mom). Also, it's easy to type, as is evidenced by this column.
On the one hand, buying a treadmill desk not cheap (you can make a much more affordable version based on a second-hand treadmill). On the other hand, if it helps me live longer (and healthier), then it would be cheap at twice the price. And, unlike a lot of things I've purchased over the years, when it comes to the treadmill desk, I have never thought to myself, "I wish I hadn’t bought that.”
Also, I keep on receiving affirmation from different sources that this was a good thing to do. Just yesterday while driving home from work, for example, I heard on NPR (National Public Radio) that walking for one hour in the morning and another in the afternoon can increase your lifespan by at least two years.
The great thing is that, since I'm working while I'm walking, I really don’t notice the time going by. Also, this doesn’t consume any of my free time outside of work, which I would rather be using for doing fun things, like eating lots of food and drinking lots of beer (I'm joking…at least about the food).
Having said all this, anything I can do to make this even more fun and/or interesting has to be a good thing, which is why I'm walking from Central Park in New York City to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.
I don’t mean this literally, you understand, although I would love to undertake this walk if I didn’t have to work. What I did was to go onto Google Maps and ask for directions between these two locations. The important thing is to click the "Walking" option, which results in 50 pages of detailed directions. Now, when I'm walking on my treadmill desk I keep track of every step (well, every 0.01 of a mile) I take, and I'm plotting my path as I go. When I pass through a town, I can look it up on the Internet and Google Earth and Google maps. So it's almost like being there, except that I don’t receive any funny looks from people. Even better, I have a friend who works for a big Silicon Valley company that shall remain nameless, and he says that they will fly me out to California at the end of my quest so I can walk the last 4 miles in person. This will be quite a while yet, because the entire route is more than 2,900 miles, but it's great to have a goal.
Can you Smell Something?
This isn’t directly related to my walking activities, but it is still on the topic of health. I was shocked and horrified to discover that practically every commercial antiperspirant deodorant (at least, the ones that work) have aluminum in them. In fact, it's the aluminum that stops you from sweating.
The problem is that some studies have linked this source of aluminum to Alzheimer's, cancer, and a bunch of other nasty stuff (other studies have not shown such a connection, but I tend to the view that it's "better to be safe than sorry"). And it's not just aluminum – it seems the majority of conventional antiperspirant deodorants also contain a smorgasbord of other toxic chemicals, including parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, and… the list goes on.
Based on this, I ordered something called a Crystal Body Stick, which costs $6.89 from Amazon and is guaranteed to last over a year of daily use. I was really happy about this, until I discovered that what they describe as "natural mineral salts" includes ammonium alum, which – according to Wikipedia – is ammonium aluminum sulfate. Good grief! Can’t we get away from the aluminum?