The World of Warcraft Workout: Playing on a Treadmill

World of Warcraft players don’t have the best reputation when it comes to physical fitness, and let’s face it: spending hour after hour pwning the face off of internet dragons may give us Conan-like right hand and mouse finger strength, but it does nothing for our stomachs, legs, and bountiful heinies.

I was making a circuit of the Barrens one evening, picking flowers and thinking to myself, as usual, “You should really be on the treadmill. You put it off yesterday. And the day before that.”

“But I really need more Peacebloom!”

“No, you don’t. You need to go work out.”

“But… but… Auction House monies,” my brain protested.


“No! Peacebloom!! … Forever.”

“Okay, kid; I’ll make a deal with you. Go work out, take the laptop with you, and then you can hit three nodes for every mile you run.”

I went down to the treadmill, opened up my laptop and turned on WoW (to better motivate myself, NOT because I planned to hit three nodes before I even started running), and realized something epic.

It looked like… maybe… the laptop would fit in the magazine holder.

I tried it. It did.

No. Way.

But how could I use my mouse? No way would I be able to use the built-in swipe pad. I can’t even do that when I’m standing still. I hunted around and found a shoebox top, cut it (with my teeth, I’m ashamed to say) to fit around the control console and rest on the hand rail, and strapped the entire contraption down with duct tape. It wasn’t pretty, but a few experimental sweeps of the wireless mouse showed me the mouse would at least track.

I got on the treadmill. I turned it up to one mile an hour. I logged into WoW.

It worked.

For the first five minutes or so, it was weird. I couldn’t type without almost falling off, but the mouse situation was fine.

In ten minutes I was using my keyboard shortcuts.

In thirty minutes I was typing.

I cranked the belt speed up to 1.5 mph and started to farm herbs. I denuded the hills of Southern Barrens and took a flight, hit the Auction House, switched characters and mailed myself some gold, moved around heirlooms, attacked some mobs, leveled twice, and then remembered that I was still on the treadmill.

I’d been on it for over three hours, burned over 400 calories and walked almost 5 miles. I hadn’t even noticed I was walking for most of it.

These days, I’m a solid 2 mph girl, and I can easily run PUGs and level while walking, though I haven’t dared raid yet. I upgraded my beloved shoebox mouse pad with a hard piece of plastic (still duct-taped to the handrail; I haven’t gone entirely upscale) topped with an ergonomic mouse pad with gel wrist wrest. I only let myself farm or solo level if I’m walking, and I get at least five miles a day in.

I’ve demanded a TrekDesk for Christmas, and I really don’t think I’ll ever go back to just…. sitting. I feel great, I’ve lost weight without trying in the least, and best of all, that nagging voice that tells me I should be doing something productive instead of playing WoW has vanished forever.


You’ll need:

  • A Treadmill: You can actually get them quite reasonably- below $800- if you shop local sales, and regularly offers free shipping on new ones.
  • A Holder for Your Laptop or Monitor: Laptops are much easier to deal with, of course, but you could set up your main computer with only a bit more effort. For laptops, try the SurfShelf ($40), the Amazon Treadmill Book Holder ($14), or just see if your laptop fits in the existing magazine rack like I did. For monitor setups, see below.
  • A Mousepad Setup: This was the hardest thing for me to get together, as you really have to look at your machine and see where you can add a flat surface. My shoebox top actually worked quite well, though I’d recommend that no matter what you do- a thick piece of cardboard, maybe a small piece of plywood cut to fit around the console if you’re handy- you superglue an inexpensive mouse pad with wrist rest ($10-15) on top of it. I found I really tended to lean on my wrist as I walked to steady myself, unconsciously, and the wrist rest helps prevent that. Plus, the mouse pad starts to slide if you don’t glue it down.

People are only just starting to look at the concept of walking at a very slow pace while you’re on a computer. Luckily, it’s been around long enough that there are, in fact, complete walking-and-working computer assemblies being produced already. Be warned, though: the sticker shock of these things is pretty severe, and you absolutely don’t need to get one.

To maximize the comfort and ergonomic function of typing or using a mouse, your forearms should be parallel to the floor and elbows bent at a  90′ angle. If you find yourself really getting into walking while you play (or even work!), one of these might be for you:

  • The TrekDesk: $479. This sucker fits over your existing treadmill and provides truly staggering amounts of desk space. Plus the edge is padded (in case of Sindragosa-like spasms), the desk height moves up and down, and Amazon is currently offering free shipping on it.
  • The Steelcase Walkstation: $4,099. This option is pretty pricey, but it includes the treadmill, which is attached to the desk. It also includes a vertical mount for a flat-panel screen. That’s right. You can bring the good computer over and really go to town!

I hope this information encourages you to at least try walking while you play, no matter how uncoordinated or lazy you feel. Truly, it’s so easy to balance even my grandmother could do it, and you won’t even notice the miles going past.

And hey, it’d be nice to start hearing, “Man, he’s pretty fit. Must play World of Warcraft.”



  1. I’ve always wanted WoW to have a module where you had to physically move to move your character. Just think how awesome that’d be? Sure at first we’d all suck from IRL lag, but after a while we’d have physiques to match our characters and amazing stamina. And there’d be so much more RP walking lol. One day. One day.


  2. The place I currently work has at least one Walkstation (not sure if it’s the actual Steelcase version, but that’s what they call it) over in another building, to be reserved like a conference room for 30- or 60-minute stints. I never imagined using it for WoW, though. I mean, I’m a guy, and as you know, we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, much less walk and tank Halls of Lightning.


  3. That is very clever and resourceful.

    I wish I could exercise and play at the same time. Unfortunately, I don’t have a treadmill and I think playing WoW while on an elliptical or while lifting weights would be slightly more difficult to coordinate. Sometimes I consider using an exercise ball as a desk chair, but I’ve never tried it.


  4. I wish I had a lap top I played on and a treadmill. I have a PC and some nice sneakers, though. I do resolve to walk again instead and spend a little time off of WoW and out with the dogs, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it! Plus, really, I would need dental work eventually. I sometimes trip over my own feet walking. =)


  5. OH. MY. GOD.


    Now I just need to A) get a treadmill and B) get a trek desk. Maybe in a year or so.

    For now I am just going to settle on buying my Blackberry Bold 9650 and surfing facebook while I walk the mileage =)


    ❤ ❤ ❤


    • My boyfriend WOULD NOT STOP laughing at me when I was duct-taping the shoebox to the treadmill. I think he may have peed a little at one point (it *was* pretty funny, but still!). And now whose Boomkin is a mining fool and is getting eight miles a day under his previously-scoffing and much slimmer belt?! Oh, yes.

      And I don’t have the TrekDesk yet, though with any luck it will be under the Christmas tree; the treadmill is definitely the first step! You can turn it into a WoW-playing station with absolutely no extra ingredients, if you don’t mind the jerry-rigged setup!


  6. This is just insane and I won’t follow your example, but still I can’t help loving you. ❤
    And why on Earth aren't you already on my blogroll? I'll fix that now.


    • Oh, nehw! You have to try it at least once; I guarantee you can do it (NotLegallyBindingVoidWhereProhibitedDisciplinaryActionNotResponsibleForBrokenLaptopsOrFemurs)! 🙂 And I can’t answer your question about why I wasn’t on your blogroll, but I’m honored to be among such good company now!


  7. This is such a great idea! 😀 As someone who is now searching for a way to stay in shape during the off season of my sport of choice (swimming), I cannot wait to give this a try. I have seen similar ideas at the college I attend, not involving WoW! But employees being able to stand and walk on a treadmill while working on their computers.

    Thanks for the awesome post and suggestions. 🙂


  8. I … am honestly lost for words. This is hilarious and kind of awesome all at once. Your ingenuity is amazing. Sadly, however, I don’t think it’s something I could transfer to my own exercises – I suppose I could try to hit nodes with my nose while doing push ups over the laptop … maybe not eh?


    • To be forthright, it is not the entirety of my physical fitness regimen, just a facet thereof! And all I can think of is piles of sweat dropping from your nose onto the laptop… ew. Thanks for that visual. 😉


  9. Awesome idea, Liala! I did laugh when imagining you shredding a shoebox lid with your teeth, duct tape in hand. But improvisation is the mark of a true intellectual! I would definitely try this if I had a treadmill. Can’t wait to see the pictures of your setup!


  10. This is awesome.. just simply awesome.. And yes, pictures please!

    I don’t have a treadmill, but I feel that maybe I should get one now if I can get the money and find a place to put it (they’re rather large?) I want to be able to walk and play WoW too!


  11. Pssh, I’m posting this everywhere because your post got me to thinking. If Treadmills aren’t an option for you because you are
    A) uncoordinated
    B) broke
    C) other reasons
    Amazon sells an under the desk pedal exerciser for $20 and up.
    I want a treadmill, but I have some physical issues that really mess with walking long distances. Stupid back. This pedal exerciser is perfect for me because it will fit under my desk right now without causing any problems. Plus, I don’t have to worry about jury-rigging anything.

    Seriously though, thank you so much for putting this idea into my head. I would never have thought about it if you hadn’t of said anything.


    • That’s all I want to hear 😀 I’m so glad it got you thinking, and I hope everyone comes up with a way to do it, even if it’s not specifically a treadmill. Plus that version has such a low investment/footprint! Let us know how it works out!


  12. This is brilliant! and now I am absolutely gutted that I went for a cross-trainer instead, not a chance I can get my laptop up there! =((

    you know i am still waiting for that total VR experience where I actually need to move around and walk for miles while being ‘ingame’ wearing my VR helmet. time flies by so fast when gaming too, so you hit two birds with one stone!


    • I know, that’s what Dawn said, too! It would be fantastico. And not that I would ever suggest such a thing, but I have been known to trade equipment I hated (stationery bike) in for equipment I loved (rowing machine). Some sports stores do used trades, which is awesome!


  13. I wonder if there was a way to do this if you didn’t have a laptop?

    I have a treadmill, but I can’t afford a laptop. I have a spare computer with a flat screen and an itty bitty tower. Hmm… Maybe.


  14. oops – adding that I reread the 2nd half of the post. erp derp – I am checking out that link and might have to try to improvise something since I can’t afford to buy a desk to go over the treadmill. hehe.


  15. I think this is the coolest WoW related article I’ve ever read. Thank you so much! I’ve been recovering from surgery and have a long way to go – exercise is at top of my priority list…but so is reaching my gold goal for Cataclysm (I doubt I need to say which has been winning)! I had no idea they made desks for treadmills. You’ve inspired me!


  16. […] the disco in honor of spite of the sure to be forthcoming objections to the idea from At and maybe Liala herself for introducing me to the idea of a treadmill desk but, in the meantime, it turns out that walking and WoWing continues to be dangerous! Maybe even […]


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