Treadmill Desk Turns Writer Susan Orlean into ‘The Walking Alive’

by Will M on May 17, 2013

tagged as , , ,

Meryl Streep in Adapdation

Meryl Streep ruminates on how great she feels after a day's work at her treadmill desk, reprising her role as Susan Orlean in my proposed sequel to "Adaption." (Photo:

Earlier this week, New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean went on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to talk about her latest piece entitled “The Walking Alive,” in which she goes over her struggles to find the right workstation setup and how it led her to a desk treadmill. During this entertaining and enlightening interview, she touches on many issues you’ve seen us write about here at The Human Solution blog – how her energy level and focus has improved, how easy it is to walk and still work efficiently, and how several studies have revealed the health risks associated with inactivity.

Susan Orlean at her treadmill desk.

The actual Susan Orlean at her treadmill desk. (Photo: New Yorker)

Callers share their stories as well, including one caller who tells how standing the whole day has both eliminated the “mid-afternoon slump” and cut down on back pain issues, and another who has found her work as a radiologist has even been improved by walking on a treadmill while reviewing images. Her anecdote is especially compelling – after reading a Mayo Clinic study that showed an improved detection of pulmonary nodules when reading a chest CT while on a treadmill, she switched to a treadmill desk. While she’s seen minor resistance from older colleagues who find it unprofessional due to a perceived negative effect on accuracy, her peer reviews have shown this to be unfounded.

Orlean’s article is essential reading for anyone still on the fence due to misconceptions like these about treadmill desks. Her passion for hers (she likens it to the early days of cell phones, when people mostly talked about how cool it was they were talking on a cell phone) will hopefully be so contagious that, much like cell phones, the treadmill desk will soon become ubiquitous and no longer perceived as a niche or luxury item.

And who knows, maybe her article can be adapted by Charlie Kaufman into another brilliant meta film that somehow uses treadmill desks as fodder for a standard Hollywood action flick. Of course, he may not want to write it on a treadmill desk if he doesn’t want to rid himself of the angst-ridden writer’s block that fueled his previous, ahem, Adaptation. As Orlean points out after writing two articles on her treadmill desk:

“Both of them I found very easy to write. I was just relaxed. I felt like my thoughts came flowing very easily, and I didn’t get that nervous tension that you get sitting at a desk, trying to think of a lead.”

So maybe Kaufman should stick to a cramped desk in an uncomfortable chair (I have no proof this is his setup, but this is how I picture him writing). As for everyone else, whether they are writing for the New Yorker, writing code or even blogging, a treadmill desk may just be the solution to get the creative juices flowing.

Learn more about treadmill desks at

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Will M

Will M

Will Moore has been with The Human Solution since 2011, and currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife Angie and their terriers Eli and Hannah. When not writing about or selling ergonomic furniture, he’s usually catching a live music show or watching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. He enjoys bacon, Pearl Jam, and sitting in a Steelcase Amia Chair when not using his desk’s standing capabilities (ah, the perks of working at THS). He is responsible for spearheading the very popular Music Friday at THS, in which a theme is picked and everyone plays a song in turn, culminating in the entire office ceremonially playing “Who Let the Dogs Out,” no matter what the theme, every Friday at 6 pm when we close.

Previous post:

Next post: