Treadmill Computing (or: Azeroth Walkabouts)


(2016 Edit: I’ve got a slightly different build, but still having fun!)

(2014 Edit: Still using this same setup, slightly modified, and having a blast!)

I am a relatively (read as: completely) sedentary person. I sit at a desk at work. I sit at a desk at home. Most of my hobbies include sitting for most if not all of the activity: painting model horses, writing, WoW, etc. Plus I have to eat at some point and that tends to include tables.

Sometimes I’ll get up and drag the dogs on a walk, but otherwise there’s a whole lot of sitting going on.

And it turns out sitting is bad for you.

Like ‘increased mortality rates’ bad. Eek.

So in order to combat the pervasive Fatal-Sitting-ness that has invaded my life, I decided to give the whole ‘treadmill computing’ thing another go.

Starting Not Quite From Scratch

Currently I have a high tech setup that consists of a treadmill, two boards, four eyehooks, shoelaces, shelf liner, and a laptop. It’s not much too look at, but it works remarkably well.

I’ve used it in the past for writing blog posts and running up my NaNoWriMo wordcount, but it’s a very limited setup because my old laptop just isn’t up to snuff anymore. (Sorry Sven!) It’s slow and clunky and the touchpad is a horrendous pain in the neck to use even when I’m sitting down. What I really need is bring my desktop into play.

Sure, I’ll have to stand still to do things like photo editing, but my main time sinks (Hulu, Warcraft, Random Surfing) are 99% walking compatible. There’ll be a bit of a learning curve for WoW, but it shouldn’t be impossible to master.

Building an Alternative

So what did I need to turn my laptop treadmill into a desktop treadmill?

In terms of both time and money… a lot less than I thought it would. Thank you MacGuyer and Mythbusters for teaching me that making something from nothing isn’t as impossible as it seems!

Well and also thanks to Sole, who made my build a lot easier that it could be. 😉

I lucked out and the armrests on the treadmill are at a perfect height for my keyboard. That lets me skip building alternate supports, but you’ll want to test that out first if you try this with your own treadmill. Always nice when being short comes in handy!

The keyboard fits nicely onto the two boards that are already there, but the mousepad needs a little more support. A shelf from a paper cubby makes a decent base, plus there’s a lip on the end that I can hook over the board to keep it from slipping. I did end up sticking a sponge underneath to prop it up level, but otherwise it was a one-stop fix.

If you don’t have spare shelf-bits handy you can use a piece of stiff cardboard or chipboard. You should be able to get these at a hardware or craft store, but in a pinch you can double-up cardboard from a shipping box as well.

Now I need to find a place for the monitor. Hmm…

Balancing it on the treadmill was a no-go. There would be too much movement for it to stay stable and I needed to be able to reach the treadmill controls. So I took a hint from the gyms and decided to put it up on the wall.

I had a spare shelf sitting around (I am a bit of a packrat), so I measured the height of the treadmill and installed the shelf a smidgen higher. This way I should be able to keep the treadmill tucked in the corner without loosing too much extra space to the new footprint.

There is just enough room on the shelf for the monitor, speakers, and wireless connection. It seems sturdy enough (thank goodness!) so I’m not worried about bumping it and knocking things over. We’ll see if it stays this clean or if it starts accumulating knick knacks…

Now I have half of the bits in place, time to move the tower!

The big, heavy, clunky tower. Bleh. 😛

I needed something sturdy enough to hold it up and this $20 bookcase from target looked like it should do the job. I may end up adding a piece of wood to spread the weight out to the supports rather than just the top shelf, but we’ll see if there is any bowing over the next week or so.

Amusingly I was able to counterweight the bookshelf with the Giant Pile of Accounting Textbooks I built up over the course of my college degree. Nice to know those money sinks are good for something! (And yes, I have two Business Law textbooks, and no I don’t want to talk about it. *mutter*)

A bit of prayer and crossed fingers and it was time to boot things up… VICTORY!

Walking to Goldshire

Treadmill Sleep Mode

The best bit is that I can still fold up the treadmill, I just need to make sure the keyboard and mouse are tucked in and all is well in Whoville.

All-in-all, this little bit of MacGuyver-ing cost me zero dollars (all materials were on hand) and took about an hour. If you wanted to try something similar, you’d need to buy the wood, shoestrings, eyehooks, wall shelf, and bookcase– assuming you already had the computer and the treadmill.

I haven’t had much of a change to test it out yet, since I was sick the weekend I put it together, but I’ll make sure to come back and post next month on how well it’s working and if I’ve made any tweaks.

Now I’m off to play some computer games and burn some calories!

Azeroth Walkabouts
Azeroth Walkabouts

In case you are looking for some other alternatives, here are links to other folks with gaming treadmills!

WoW Gaming Treadmill Setups

Non-WoW Computer Treadmill Setups

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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