Wellness Stories.

The treadmill story of sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson

Sep 12 2019 • Written by Smriti Mishra


~ Smriti Jha


The writing profession demands you sitting for long and stretched hours. Spending a lot of time sitting and writing welcomes the unavoidable companions in the form of distinct discomforts like stiff muscles, back pain, muscle spasm, psychosis, and sciatica.

To ignore such illness trepidation in the future, our great writers and journalist have switched their foot towards fitness. One of the great and very well acclaimed writers Neal Stephenson also went with the science of fitness. He believes that a fit body is more energetic and creative.



Neal Stephenson advocated the concept of the treadmill desk

Neal is known to have advocated the treadmill desk writing. He had also published some of his running data with the readers. He has been using a treadmill desk for a few years, but in mid-January of 2014, he began keeping track of his daily mileage on a spreadsheet.

While its beneficial effects certainly outweigh its downside, it would be less than honest to claim that use of a treadmill while working is completely benign, says Neal!



The treadmill discomforts

During the first half of 2014, Neal began to experience discomfort in the left leg, typically in the buttock and thigh but sometimes extending down to the knee and ankle. He understood that this was clearly associated with walking on the treadmill. Interestingly, however, it was completely absent when walking out of doors. He could walk in a normal stride outdoors for many miles without having any trace of this problem, but even a short stint on the treadmill brought it back. He began to curtail the treadmill mileage by reducing the speed, typically to the minimum value of 0.5 miles per hour.


Do not rely on it as a complete weight loss therapy

The number of calories burned is not all that large. So, its better to keep your diet under control and curtail the extra fats and calories food sources.


Mind your posture

In mid-June of 2014, Neal consulted a physical therapist who observed him walking on a treadmill in the office and pointed out that he was tottering from side to side in a Frankenstein-like gait. The obvious remedy was to start walking normally, planting one foot ahead of the other. Some stretching exercises were also prescribed then.

A bit of experimentation showed that increasing the treadmill’s speed produced a longer, more normal stride. While the leg pain didn’t go away entirely (and is still with me to some degree), Neal was able to log more miles while experiencing a significant reduction in discomfort.


Typically, I now run the treadmill at 1.8 mph, almost quadruple the speed to which I had reduced it in June 2014; And, running for 2.5 to 3 miles a day is easily sustainable, Neal mentions in his blog.

Contribute: Do write to us about any wellness program in your company that has led to noticeable gains for your employees, at smriti@fitgenix.in