The Human Hamster Wheel Desk Is Now A Real Thing & Can Be Your Next DIY Project
Now that Americans are spending an increasing proportion of their day in the office, it comes as no wonder that office space improvements are becoming a necessity. The desk, the staple of almost all work stations, has already undergone some major makeovers, and the human hamster wheel desk is simply the latest result of evolution. This new desk is exactly what it sounds like — an oversize wheel where dedicated and hamster-loving employees can stand and walk, forever staying in the same place. Perhaps the idea was to mirror the productivity levels some of us experience on our off days.
Plywood, skate wheels, and a pint of glue comprise the materials Bay Area–based artist Robb Godshaw used for this DIY project, and the results are nothing short of epic. The finished product is 24 inches, or two feet wide, and 80 inches, or about six and a half feet tall. Of course, the dimensions can be adjusted to fit your specific needs, which is part of the beauty of this practical piece of art.
But why a hamster wheel when products like the treadmill desk already exist? As Godshaw told the Huffington Post, "The issues with treadmills are that you don't set your own pace, and they're not interesting as furniture." This is certainly true — after all, how many people actually walk at exactly one of the preset rates that treadmills offer? And how weird would it be to walk into an office full of treadmills?
Probably less weird than walking into an office full of hamster wheels. But Godshaw is right — hamster wheels are definitely better conversation starters.
While you can't buy the hamster wheel yet, Godshaw made sure to provide the most eager of potential customers with a full set of directions. In conjunction with Instructables developer Will Doenlen, Godshaw has given interested parties the greatest gift of all — DIY instructions.
The product's description page certainly tells a convincing story. Said Godshaw,
Rise up, sedentary sentients, and unleash that untapped potential within by marching endlessly towards a brilliant future of focused work. Step forward into a world of infinite potential, bounded only by the smooth arcs of a wheel. Step forward into the Hamster Wheel Standing Desk that will usher in a new era of unprecedented productivity.
This unprecedented productivity may be due in part to the lack of brakes on the hamster wheel, which means that the contraption will "really force the productivity out of the desk user." So if you're not prepared to spend your entire work day not only on your feet, but also moving, the hamster wheel might not be for you. But if you're thrilled at the idea of literally participating in the rat race, then go to your hardware store and buy "4 sheets of ¾" Plywood, 4 skate wheels, 2 pipes, 240 wood screws, a pint of glue, and a good attitude." The good attitude is free of charge. All told, it took Godshaw's team less than 24 hours to build the wheel, so if you ever have a free week lying around, you know what your project should be.
The hamster wheel desk, though certainly the most innovative variation, is certainly not the first newfangled desk to hit the market. Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular, particularly as researchers have emphasized the health risks of sedentary lifestyles. Given that a 2013 survey found that the average person generally spends around 12 hours sitting every day, and then another seven or eight hours sleeping, we're about as sedentary as can be.
"You are not reaching your current productivity potential," Godshaw admonishes desk workers.
Numerous esteemed experts agree that standing is better than sitting and that walking is better than standing. Despite this, your workplace only provides inhumane chairs and stagnant standing desks for you to use while you struggle to get through a workday full of distractions and bodily pains.
And while "inhumane" might be a bit of a stretch, Godshaw certainly has a point. Last year, Dr. John Buckley, an exercise physiologist from the University of Chester, conducted a small experiment, asking 10 real estate agents to remain standing for three hours every day. Buckley found that by the end of his survey, his subjects' blood glucose levels had dropped and they had faster heart rates, allowing them to burn more calories.
These health benefits, Buckley and other scientists have said, can prevent cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Evidence of the advantages of standing over sitting can be traced back to nearly 60 years ago, with a 1950s study involving standing bus conductors and sitting bus drivers. Researchers found that the sitting drivers were twice as likely to develop heart disease as the standing conductors.
Moreover, standing may keep workers more alert and focused, making them more productive. But what is better than standing? Actually exercising. And while treadmill desks were cool last year, Godshaw is looking at the next best thing.
Of course, if the hamster wheel desk never takes off, there are other exercise-related alternatives you could try out (and actually buy, not make). There's the Cubii elliptical trainer, which slides under your desk and allows you to pedal your day away, and also the OfficeGym chair, like a home gym for your chair. So take your pick, office folk! But whatever you do, be better than the traditional desk.
Images: Robb Godshaw/YouTube; Getty Images