What Is a Treadmill Desk – Review Of the Pro’s And Con’s

One of the biggest problems facing women today is a lack of time. There never seems to be enough time to do all you need to do in one day, let alone find the time to exercise. You know you should, you even feel guilty – and you are not happy with your lack of fitness or your weight, but what to do? The answer for you may well be an office treadmill workstation.

A treadmill desk is exactly that – a treadmill with a desk area where you can put your laptop, phone, and other working essentials, and instead of sitting for hours on end, you walk (very slowly) whilst you do your work. Even though it is slow, the calories burn off gradually, which would not happen if you were seated all day.

The very real dangers of sitting too much

There is an avalanche of studies to prove the dangers of sitting too much. Our modern lifestyle is killing us slowly, and leading to poorer quality of life, even though modern medicine keeps us alive for longer. Seems so sad to me:( You may have heard the phrase coined by Dr James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, that “sitting is the new smoking” and that it “kills more people than HIV” and is “more treacherous than parachuting”. Scary stuff.

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, and your work requires you to sit at a desk for many hours daily, you have an increased risk of developing heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and early death. Your risk is increased if you are overweight, and if you smoke.

Effects of prolonged sitting on your body

You may have experienced some of these effects already:

Stiffness in your neck and shoulders – sitting with poor posture in front of a computer screen all day leads to this.

Backache and stiff hip joints. Again, sitting for hours with poor posture or an non-ergonomically designed chair which may lead to painful disc compression and shortening of the hip flexors.

Sagging and weak gluteal muscles – developing a big, saggy butt (which you can practically feel growing larger as you sit – or at least, I seem to feel this!) These are large muscles which stabilize your walking, and if they become weak, you are more at risk from falling and injuring yourself during exercise.

Varicose and spider veins – due to blood pooling in your legs when sitting. This is not only unsightly, but can be life-threatening if a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) occurs, as a blood clot can cut off blood flow to integral parts of the body.

Heart Disease – increased risk with a sedentary lifestyle. Even women who exercise regularly but sit too long are have a 27% chance of developing coronary heart disease than those who sit less.

Faster Aging – studies have show that women who sit for long periods of the day biologically age quicker than more active women:(

Cancer – certain types, like colon, breast and endometrial cancers are increased with prolonged sitting.

Diabetes. Due to increased insulin resistance.

Anxiety, Depression, and that “Blah” feeling. It is easier to experience low moods when you do not experience the “happy hormones” provided by physical activity.

NAFLD – New studies have shown that there is an increased incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, EVEN in physically active people of normal weight, when they sit too much. Exercise alone is not a cure for this, but sitting is.

How many of these effects are you already feeling?

There is an almost worldwide obesity epidemic. Globally, for the first time in history, more people are overweight than underweight. As adults age, their chances of becoming overweight increases. That means you and I.

Our busy lifestyle is killing us

We are over-busy which is leading to a poor quality of life and even early death. What can we do?

Action Plan to improve your life

Reduce your sedentary lifestyle by increasing your activities in daily living (ADL’s).

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park away from the mall entrance and WALK.
  • Walk to your colleagues instead of phoning or emailing.
  • Stand and iron whilst watching television.
  • Walk around the neighborhood with your children or friend.
  • Walk to the mall if close enough, instead of jumping in the car.
  • Stand whilst speaking on the telephone.
  • Water with garden with a handheld hose, instead of a sprinkler.
  • Watch less TV and go for a walk or exercise instead.
  • Invest in a treadmill desk, for home or office, as that is where you spend most of your time sitting.

The Pros of a treadmill desk

You can get stuff done, and be physical at the same time! You will be walking (up to around 2 miles per hour), instead of sitting, whilst answering your emails, taking phone calls and writing articles or reports. You will be productive and active.

Reduced back and neck pain. Yippee! No more to say…

Improved mood and less depression due to the release of endorphins (“happy” hormones).

Reduces stress and a sense of guilt for not exercising regularly. Less stress means less cortisol release into your system which leads to less fat deposited in your belly. Winner!

Burn calories while working, which you can’t do whilst sitting. This leads to weight loss with prolonged use.

Lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. This is an amazing health benefit.

Encourages you to be more active as you start feeling better. You have improved energy and may well be motivated to start, and stick to, a more intense exercise program.

Maintains strong bones which is vitally important to mature women, to stave off the risk of osteoporosis.

The movement may stimulate creativity. It gets the blood flowing, and improves concentration.

Awesome for those who work from home as you probably spend even longer hours just sitting in front of that computer than anything else – I feel like my butt is fused to the chair sometimes!

It is a lifestyle change, which may lead to other lifestyle changes such as eating better and exercising more.

Cuts down your risks of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, which may happen if you sit too much, even if you already exercise regularly.

The Cons of a treadmill desk

It may take some getting used to. As with any new thing in life, some people will adjust quicker than others. The secret is perseverance.

Although it is a great step in the right direction, you should still do more exercise at a higher pace, for optimal health. The aim of the treadmill desk is to raise your base metabolic rate, not raise your heart rate, which is essential for peak health. This means that your heart has to work a little harder while you’re walking, which is a good thing.

You may experience some pain and discomfort at first. The extent to which you are unfit and how much your muscles have atrophied, has a bearing on this. It will improve.

It will lead to slow weight loss, estimated at 100 to 130 calories per hour on a 1 to 2 miles per hour walking rate (Dr James Levine, Mayo Clinic). While this seems very little, how much weight will you lose whilst sitting? Zero! This does add up over time. This actually is something for nothing! To lose more weight, follow a low carbohydrate eating plan, and exercise more.

You may need to stop moving to do concentration work, or working on a spreadsheet, if you require to do so for a short while.

The cost. It is an investment into your health, much like buying a treadmill, elliptical or setting up a home gym. It may well prolong your life, or at least, give you a better quality of life. The cost comes into perspective when you consider what you will ultimately save in doctor’s bills, hospitalization and medicines as your health continues to decline without intervention.


Review of 4 Treadmill Desk Workstations

Product: Exerpeutic 2000

    • Price (Retail): $628.98
    • Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
    • Guarantee: 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects.   Lifetime warranty on the frame.
    • My Rating: 7/10
    • Comment:  Wheels and easy fold up for storage. Incline adjustment from 0 – 15 %. No height adjustment – may be a little tall for people under around 5 foot 6 inches or so. Spacious desk space for all your needs. All in all,  this is a good place to start in this market with many happy customers.

Product: NordicTrack Desk Treadmill

    • Price (Retail): $1154.34
    • Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
    • Guarantee: Lifetime frame and motor warranty; 1-year parts & labor warranty
    • My Rating: 8/10
    • Comment: A solid buy, by a reputable company. iFit smart enabled, with a speed range of 0 – 6 mph – you can jog if you want to. Cushioned deck. Very heavy, so get help to assemble, or opt for the “professional assembly” service on checkout.

Product: LifeSpan TR1200-DT7 

      • Price (Retail): $1499.00
      • Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
      • Guarantee: Warranties – 1-year labor, 2-year parts, 3-year motor, lifetime frame.
      • My Rating: 9.5/10
      • Comment: One touch height adjustment, easy assembly, and blue tooth capabilities makes this a winner. Very quiet and steady, comfortable armrest whilst typing, attractive design, with ample desk space for all your requirements.

Product: LifeSpan TR 5000-DT5 

    • Price (Retail): $2450.31
    • Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
    • Guarantee: Warranties – 1-year labor, 2-year parts, 3-year motor, lifetime frame.
    • My Rating: 10/10
    • Comment: Handles hours of continuous use without a problem so you can walk all day if you want to. 2.5 mm thick walking belt is kind on your joints. Manual desk height adjustment which works well with one user. It is a maintenance-free model, meaning that you do not have to put silicone spray under the tread yearly as required by other models.

Conclusion

There are far more positives to negatives of using a treadmill desk. Most of these have far-reaching positive outcomes for those who consistently use it. Like any piece of workout equipment, it must be used to actually be of value! I’ve had personal training clients who have admitted that they invested in a treadmill or elliptical machine, but it was used as a clothes hanger in their bedroom…


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Author: Natz

I am a certified personal trainer, teacher, and writer with a passion for all three of those things, and elephants! Oh, and owls! I've been involved in counseling and the joy of my soul is to help as many people in life that I can.

10 thoughts on “What Is a Treadmill Desk – Review Of the Pro’s And Con’s”

  1. This is the first time that I have officially seen a “Treadmill Desk”. This is a great solution to getting exercise in during the day! You are so right- it is very difficult to find time to exercise (I’m a busy mom too). I also didn’t know that by sitting too long that it can cause cancer even. Thank you for this review! The prices on these treadmill desks are very reasonable as well.

    1. Hi Misty

      Yes, the prices are reasonable when you look at the long term effects of NOT using one! Our bodies are made for movement, not for sitting down all day. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi Natalie,
    Thanks for the interesting product review. I have never seen a treadmill desk, and it definitely has great appeal. I work at home online and spend many hours a day in front of a computer screen. To be honest, I often work standing up. My breakfast bar is the perfect height, and I find that standing helps to avoid the uncomfortable stiffening up that occurs with sitting too long. But I love the idea of being able to walk slowly rather than standing still.

    I’m intrigued by the Lifespan TR 5000 because it’s maintenance free. But I do have a question. Is this machine robust enough to also handle more intense workouts? As you point out, walking that slowly is better than no exercise, but it’s not enough on its own. I’d like an all-purpose treadmill if possible. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Linda

      Thanks for your comment and question. You’re definitely on your way to better health by standing while you work!

      Walking is far less boring, and burns some calories as well. The Lifespan TR 5000 goes up to 4 mph, which will be a brisk walk or slow jog depending on your height and length of stride. You’d normally walk at a pace of up to 2 mph whilst working, so a bit of a difference. What I’d recommend is adding some body weight exercises next to your treadmill desk (I will be adding some simple exercise programs to this site shortly, so watch this space!). The aim of walking while you work is to raise your base metabolic rate, not cause a sweat as you would in a workout. Remember too, that you can change the incline to give you more of a workout!

      If you’d still like your treadmill desk to give you more of a workout in terms of speed, take a look at the NordicTrack model in the review as that has a top speed of 6 mph.

      Hope this helps! Please let me know how it goes…I think it’s an amazing invention particularly for those of us who work from home and sit all day!

      Regards

      Natalie

  3. Hi Natalie!

    Great site! I think that walking while working is a great idea and would really help in keeping people in better shape and healthier all around! As you had said, life can get busy and it can be hard to get a workout in sometimes. How long would you recommend walking during the day while working?

    Thanks!
    -Nicole

    1. Hi Nicole

      Yes, it is killing two birds with one stone, isn’t it? I worry about sitting too long working as new studies show that even daily gym workouts don’t offset all the hours of sitting…

      As for how long to do this, anything is better than nothing. As long as you can tolerate it. At first it may be painful if you are sedentary, but some people walk 5 -7 hours daily and burn many calories!

  4. Being a single mom myself i know that exercise is important and you are absolutely right when you say that we can get caught up in our busy lives its hard to stay in shape i was wondering if you could provide some review on those foot swing things for your desk i saw a video on facebook about them and they burn calories while at your desk

    1. Hi Stacey

      Thanks for your comment. Just need to clarify what you mean by a “foot swing thing?” Are you talking about the mini under-desk cycles?

  5. Howdy!

    To be honest, I didn’t know that such desks exist and I find it very interesting.
    I think that it is well worth the investment, given the fact that most of us have an intense workday on the chairs.
    In today’s busy life that we are leading one should find the time to exercise as often as possible.
    Such desk might be a real problem solver. Plus it is very practical.
    Thanks for the great review.

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