‘I can cope with it... un­til the phone rings’

Friday - - HEALTH - Robert Cramp­ton and Daniel Finkel­stein were test­ing the Life­Span TR1200 DT7, (www.lifes­pan­fit­ness.com).

Ilead an al­most ex­clu­sively seden­tary ex­is­tence. The bot­tom on the chair, the fin­gers on the key­board, the eyes on the screen – such is the ge­om­e­try of my work­ing life.

as­sume the po­si­tion at 9am ev­ery morn­ing, and – ex­cept­ing calls of na­ture, calls of hunger and calls on the door­bell – I pretty much re­main in that con­fig­u­ra­tion for the next 10 hours. At which point, also sit­ting down, al­beit in a dif­fer­ent chair, hav­ing walked 4.5m from my of­fice to the kitchen ta­ble, I have my tea. Af­ter that I gen­er­ally re­trace my steps to my com­puter.

Not that my life is dull. Some­times, in the evening, I watch TV – while sit­ting down. Or I make some phone calls – while sit­ting down. And if I’m feel­ing ex­tra-spe­cially rock ’n’ roll, I read by the fire – while sit­ting down. Or ly­ing down, quite of­ten.

I know this be­hav­iour is bad for me. And I know I should be more ac­tive – or at least more mo­bile, or at a min­i­mum more up­right. But I also know I’ve got a lot of tip­pity-tap­ping typ­ing to get through. Step for­ward (or rather rum­ble for­ward) the ge­nius con­cept that is the desk tread­mill. Is it work? Is it leisure? Is it phys­i­cal ex­er­tion for pur­poses of not turn­ing into an ut­ter blob? It’s all three!

At first sight of the tread­mill desk, I can’t deny I was dis­ap­pointed. I’d got overex­cited, con­jur­ing up a vi­sion of a fu­tur­is­tic con­struc­tion at the very lim­its of hu­man imag­i­na­tion, all sci-fi and space-age and pod-like. Turns out a tread­mill desk is a run­ning ma­chine with a big tray fixed on the front.

Never mind, train­ers on feet, lap­top on tray, fin­ger on start but­ton, let’s get that rub­ber rolling, 1mph, 2mph, 3mph... for­get that, let’s live a lit­tle, crank this ma­chine up to a nerve-shred­ding 6mph [9.7kph], ooh yeah, lovin’ that speed.

Now – puff, pant – to get stuck into some work… I’ve hit the wrong key, the thing’s ask­ing if I want to in­stall some new up­dates, that al­ways un­set­tles me (stabs wildly at key­board)… hang on… wheeze… I couldn’t care less what the tem­per­a­ture might be on Satur­day… al­ways wrong any­way… best wind back a notch, 4mph should do it… (Com­edy lunge for­ward) iChat? What’s that when it’s at home? (An­other lunge.) Puff, pant. Good: lap­top back to Word, tread­mill back to a stroll. Much bet­ter. This I can cope with… un­til the phone rings!

Call me old-fash­ioned but, leav­ing aside the des­per­ate gasp­ing for oxy­gen, it felt rude to take a phone call while other­wise oc­cu­pied. Ob­vi­ously, from time to time, we all do it – wash­ing up, open­ing the post, per­form­ing base bod­ily func­tions – but I wouldn’t want to make it a habit.

On bal­ance, I think that per­haps the desk tread­mill is not for me.

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