Recently got this question on my forum and thought I’d post it here for all to see.
I’m interested in your opinion on the following and whether it would negatively impact strength gains or maintaining strength.
My employer has made a number of ‘treadmill desks’ available to us. Basically, a treadmill below a standing-height desk, the idea being you walk on the treadmill at some speed so low that it does not interfere with your desk work, but provides some ongoing activity during the day.
I don’t foresee this being a big deal at all once you get used to it and I think this is analogous to “mail-man GPP”, i.e. the mailman walks 20,000 steps a day but can still train heavy after work because he’s gotten used to that volume of LISS, if you will. A person who just started at the post office gets wrecked from day 1’s 20K steps and because he’s not used to it, he needs to modify his training accordingly to allow a bit of transient performance drop off.
Perhaps the most poignant issue I could raise with this style of “cardio” is with it’s effectiveness to do anything useful at all. How can we expect a modality, frequency, and intensity of exercise that does not perturb our homeostasis much- as evidenced by fatigue, transient performance loss, etc.- to cause a beneficial adaptation? In other words, because the thing is so easy, I don’t know how much utility it has with respect to caloric expenditure, cardiovascular conditioning, etc. I highly doubt that your “net” caloric expenditure has changed over a 24-48hr period due to this type of exercise simply because the body is readily adaptive and there needs to be some critical threshold of “stimulation” that needs to be crossed to drive any and all adaptations.
On the other hand, I think the benefits of this type of intervention is more realistically applied to orthopedic benefits. Anything that gets you up out of the chair, into a better posture, pumps blood through the muscles, and moves the limbs, sinew, and soft tissue structures through their normal anatomical range of motion can only benefit the person doing it, in my opinion.