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Author: Gregor Schmid
02. March 2021

Contre le Corona-Blues

For many, especially those in IT, the past year was probably similar to ours in many ways:

Since March 2020 our offices have been closed. Except for the occasional visit to take care of the
plants or paperwork, all of us are working from home. We were lucky - thanks to our regular 2 days
per week home-office there were no technical problems and the infrastructure providers did their
job remarkably well. Basically everything works, some online meetings are even more efficient and
personal than before and the market for our niche is stable enough for us to get by well.

Still, it's not always easy to maintain high spirits and the longer the lock-down continues the
more deeply the Corona-Blues takes hold. My own content and physical well-being were also on the
decline due to lack of opportunity and motivation for exercise and sports. But then a stroke of
luck changed things and gave me a push in a direction that is promising to thoroughly change my
work-life: In a video-meeting a colleague was happily tottering away. He'd gotten a treadmill and
placed it under his adjustable desk.

Of course! I'd toyed with that idea years before but unfortunately not gone through with it at
that time, partly due to lack of suitable choices. But now I understood immediately: This is it!
I already had a suitable desk so I did a quick market research, read and watched a lot of user
stories, compared prices, ordered a treadmill, got it delivered, set it up and started walking.

Today's generation of treadmills for walking, not running, is ideally suited for that purpose. The
maximum speed is limited to 6 km/h - not enough for running but more than enough at a desk. With
prices below € 400.- the devices are smaller, lighter and less noisy than their large running
counterparts in fitness studios and energy consumption is far less.

Familiarization didn't take long. At a relaxed pace of 4 km/h (5 with a bit of practice), typing
and mouse operation are not an issue as long as I don't need to hit exact pixels. My concentration
at work is so high that I barely notice walking. The light tension resulting from this contrast
even helps focusing and the increased blood flow stimulates thought. Sitting has its well-known
drawbacks and standing is not much better - I can stand comfortably for maybe half an hour at
most. But walking feels like there's no limit. After a month the magic still isn't gone and I'm
walking about 80-100 km per week without much effort. And that's on top, while doing my work,
without having to cut out the time and not in competition with going for a run outside in this
wonderfully warm spring. And so far without wear and tear.

Though this approach is not for everyone and not every workplace is suited, the health potential
is tremendous. One colleague also stared walking, another mounted his bike below his desk. The
others are getting used to the waggling in video meetings and, thanks to headsets, acoustics are
OK though even the better treadmills aren't really silent and there's the occasional heavy breath
coming through the microphone.

I'm curious to find out what the next months have in store for us. How quickly or slowly
"normalcy" returns and what that's going to mean for social and work interactions, what new
balances we're going to find. But what I'm definitely going to retain after Corona is working
while walking (or is it walking while working?) and I'm totally thankful for that.

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