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.
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.
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.
HOW TO PLAY WARCRAFT ON A TREADMILL
- A Treadmill: You can actually get them quite reasonably- below $800- if you shop local sales, and Amazon.com 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.”