Building a Makeshift Treadmill Desk

In what I hope will be a regular feature, here’s the first in a series of interviews of other homesteaders about interesting low tech home tech projects they’ve taken on. In this interview we talk to writer and homesteader Charlotte McGuinn Freeman about her DIY treadmill desk–a project I’m considering at the Root Simple compound. Charlotte blogs at and lives in Livingston, Montana.

Why did you build a treadmill desk?

Because as I entered my late 40s, after working a steady day job for 10 years, I was gaining weight and having trouble getting it off. Also, was having incipient carpal tunnel issues which I thought standing might help (it did). Oh — and my dogs got too old and arthritic to walk twice a day — that was probably as much a precipitating event as anything — I’d been walking 3-5 miles a day with them, but it was no fun walking around town or out in the mountains without them. So, the treadmill desk solved a couple of problems — I could fit exercise in around my day job and during the winters, which typically blow 30-50 mph. I’d gotten lazy about going out for a walk. I hate gyms, walking has always been my exercise of choice, and usually marks the transition between my work day and my writing day . . . so, the treadmill desk has become quite useful for that. I’ll usually surf, answer emails, post a blog or do some other sort of light writing/reading while I’m on it.

You put the desk together in 2010. How has it worked for you since?

It’s worked out great — I’ve found I don’t use it while working as much as I now use it as a sort of ordinary treadmill with a nice desktop for my laptop — I surf, watch movies, get a workout. I’ve gone to a standing desk for my corporate day job computer though, and I like the combo a lot. It’s cleared up the issues I was having with my wrists and shoulders falling asleep, and I’ve dropped and kept off some weight. I’m glad I bought a used one, it wasn’t expensive and it works well enough for me.

Is it hard to type and walk at the same time?

If you run the treadmill slowly it’s not a problem at all. I’ll use the treadmill desk for work when I have an extensive publishing issue — publishing for my corporate job is largely a matter of keeping track of a lot of variables and clicking through a lot of screens. The treadmill desk works great for that. It’s a little noisy though, so I can’t really use it while on web meetings.

Do you have any suggestions? Anything you would do differently?

I like it a lot — in combination with going to a standing desk, I feel much better, and I can feel when hiking with my partner that my stamina is much better (hiking with Himself usually involves walking straight up some local ridge, off trail, for a couple of hours before wandering around on the way down searching for mushrooms or shed antlers). It’s convenient and since I hate gyms, it means I actually get some exercise on a regular basis.

Are you using it to type this?

Yes, although I’m standing on the side rails …

Say something about your blog/homestead/books . . .

I’m the author of the novel Place Last Seen (Picador USA, 2000), and have been blogging at since 2002. I’ve written for, and have a cookbook review column at I’ve been published in the Best Food Writing of 2010, and am currently working on a book proposal for a nonfiction book about finding and building a home saw me through and got me past some devastating personal losses.

Here’s’s first treadmill desk post. And an update here.

Thanks Christine! If you have a project you’d like to share in an interview, drop us a line at [email protected]

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  1. Yes this is awesome! Now I’m not sure if I’m all that crafty myself– I have a makeshift “standing desk” at home which is really just a table, a chair, and two boxes. But at work I use an adjustable height desk from NextDesk and I LOVE it. They are coming out with a treadmill desk soon and they’re using the same Terra adjustable desktop with the walking desk, so I might just make the switch. If you’re ever interested in getting a non-DIY treadmill desk (not that yours isn’t lovely…), or just a good quality adjustable height desk, I highly recommend NextDesks. I’ve had a really good experience with mine so far!
    Check them out online at
    And thanks for the post!

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