Research by Ryan Fiorenzi
Updated Jan 1, 2019
What are Treadmill Desks?
Treadmill desks were developed for people that don't want to sit in a chair for 8 hours per day and want to add even more movement to their day than they get by standing at their desk. Treadmill desks aren't designed to run at high speeds; they are built for people to walk at slow speeds for long periods of time.
Treadmill desks are an excellent way to get in shape while you work. I believe it's actually one of the easiest habits you can develop to lose weight as you're reducing your sitting time (which is a cause of weight gain for many people), and you're burning more calories than standing.
Many standing desk users have added walking as an addition to standing and sitting (or using a leaning chair). Usually you won't be walking more than 2 mph, so you won't be sweating, and you avoid all of the dangers of extended periods of sitting (we've written a lot about the increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, increased mortality).
If you're wondering if a treadmill desk is good investment for you, read some of the reviews from verified purchase users on Amazon. It's extremely common to read about users reporting weight loss, more energy, higher productivity, and better mood.
Selecting the treadmill desk that's right for you can be intimidating if you've never used one. There are a lot of factors to consider, and if you don't know a lot about standing desks and treadmills, getting unbiased information is difficult. It's not uncommon that companies will pay for positive reviews of their products and negative reviews of competitors. Over the last few years we've developed the following criteria to help you make a decision as to which treadmill desk is best for you:
- Stability - This is especially important with all of the movement that's happening. Trying to write, type, and use the mouse can reduce your productivity when using an unstable treadmill desk.
- Shipping and delivery - Some units can take up to 8 weeks to be delivered.
- Warranty - Quality products will usually have stronger warranties.
- Noise - Loud treadmill desks can not only be annoying to others nearby, but make it harder to hear when using the phone and watching videos.
- Customer service - Hopefully you won't need to deal with customer service, but if you do, it make for a wonderful or agonizing purchase.
- Customization and upgrades - If you use your treadmill desks, there may be features that you'll use often.
- Max user weight - If you're a bigger person, pay attention to the max user weight. If the motor isn't able to handle larger users, it can stress out the motor and lead to motor failure.
- Lift capacity of desk - If you have a lot of items on your desk, such as monitors and monitor arms, books, a drink, a purse or bag, find out how much they all weigh before you make a buying decision.
- Top speed - Most don't use their treadmill desk at the speeds you would use at the gym, but if you think you'll want to occasionally challenge yourself, look for a higher maximum speed.
- Console/controller size - The console should be easy to read and adjust.
- Max height - Tall users can have issues with desks that are too low when they have to lean forward to type and read, which can lead to back and neck pain.
- Ergonomics - Poor ergonomics can cause pain in your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists.
- Quality - There are several moving parts in the desk and the treadmill, and low quality units don't last as long as higher quality ones, which can end up costing you more in the end when you have to buy a new unit because a cheaper one failed.
- Maintenance - Some treadmills require occasional maintenance.
- Unique features - Sometimes these features can add to the overall cost of a treadmill desk.
- Overall value for cost - Balancing your budget with your needs can be difficult for some people.
Top Treadmill Desks of 2019
We understand that everyone's needs are different and while we do recommend one desk overall, we will suggest an alternative and a desk for a larger budget.
“Best Value Treadmill Desk”
- Beautiful bamboo desktop that’s eco-friendly and has rounded edges
- Electric height adjustment at 1.5″/second-one of the fastest on the market
- 4 programmable memory presets for height
- Desk is less than 50 db when adjusting (equivalent of light traffic noise)
- Has a 350 lb lift capacity-one of the highest available
- Console tracks distance traveled, calories burned, steps taken
- USB charging port on console
- Rated for 6 hours average daily use
We've spent thousands of hours personally testing treadmill and standing desks, speaking with manufacturers, as well as directly with users, and we've read thousands of reviews. The Jarvis treadmill desk has 2 parts, the desk and the treadmill. The standing desk is made by Fully, who is one of the top standing desk companies. The treadmill is made by LifeSpan, who is one of the top treadmill producers (and is our runner-up).
The Jarvis treadmill desk stood out when we compared it to many other treadmill desks that we compared it to, and took into consideration the price. There are many treadmill desks that are higher quality but are way more expensive. For more information, check out our full Jarvis treadmill desk review.
#2 – LifeSpan
“Runner up: Best Value Treadmill Desk”
- LifeSpan was rated as best in class by Consumer Reports, Treadmill Doctor, Runners World, Health Magazine and others
- At 65″ it’s the shortest treadmill desk on the market, so it will fit in smaller spaces
- The desk adjusts manually from 33.5″ to 52.5″, so if you don’t plan on sitting at the desk, this will save you money, plus there’s free shipping!
- Apple Health and Google Fit enabled-just wave your phone over the console and your data is synced
- Graphed overview of steps, distance, calories, and intensity
- Console tracks distance traveled, calories burned, steps taken
- 4 desktop colors available, 2 frame colors, and 2 desk widths (38″ and 48″)
- Cords are hidden inside of the legs for safety and aesthetics
If the Jarvis is out of your budget, LifeSpan has several treadmill desks, and the TR800-DT5 is their entry level model.
When we first started researching treadmill desks, we found many of their competitors comparing themselves to LifeSpan. Once we tried out the TR800-DT5, we could see why.
The desk adjusts manually (unlike the Jarvis which is electric), but many people that use a treadmill desk don't adjust the height, so this is a smart way to save money when buying a treadmill desk.
It's also the shortest length of any treadmill desk on the market. We've talked to many users and found that standard treadmill desks take up too much room in their offices. The TR800-DT5 is only 65" long.
Read our <a href="https://www.startstanding.org/lifespan-treadmill-desks/lifespan-tr800-dt5-treadmill-desk-review/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> full review</a>.
#3 – iMovR Cascade Treadmill Desk
“Best Value Treadmill Desk”
- iMovr’s StedayType keyboard is the most stable keyboard we’ve ever used, and it’s better for your wrists (great for people with carpal tunnel)
- Lifetime warranty on the steel frame, 10 years on the desk’s electronics and motor, 5 years on the tabletop; the treadmill has 3 years on the motor, 2 years parts, and 1 year labor-iMovR stands behind their product
- The desk adjusts with an electric motor at 1.3″/second, which is above average compared to many others on the market
- The world’s first smart treadmill desk, it will connect to iMovR’s CloudStation as soon as it’s available; can create up to 5 user profiles that will track your standing, sitting, and walking on a full-color, touch screen display
- 5 tabletop sizes and 12 colors available, base legs available in 3 colors
- Top speed is 2.5 mph, whereas many treadmill desks will only go to 2 mph
If you're looking for the gold standard in treadmill desks, this model comes from iMovR, which has recently emerged as one of the top producers of standing desks.
This model is an electric desk with a 1-year digital programmer and has tons of customization available. It includes the patented Steady-type keyboard, which is a great feature especially considering that when walking on a treadmill your monitor and desk can shake.
The desk can hold and impressive 265 lbs and the motor is very quiet at only 41 decibels. It has a great warranty, has a higher top speed than most treadmill desks, and an anti-collision sensor to prevent abrupt starts and stops.
Read the full review.
Do-it-Yourself Treadmill Desks
If you're thinking about going the DIY route, understand that if you use a standard fitness treadmill, you may burn out the motor. Walking treadmills are used at low speeds for many hours and require a high torque motor. Fitness treadmills have low torque motors as when people run on them the momentum of them running fast pushes the belt along. Walkers don't push the belt forward much so the motor has to do it.
Advice for new Treadmill Desk Users
- Walk between 1-2 mph: You want to move just enough to increase circulation to your brain and other organs, and prevent the problems that come with long periods of being sedentary, but don't feel the need to go so fast that you're sweating while you work.
- Take breaks: Ideally you'll be switching modes every 20 or so minutes, so alternate walking with standing, sitting, and leaning if you like. Many treadmill desk users find that certain activities can be done walking, such as phone conversations, while activities that require deep concentration are better done sitting.
- Wear the right shoes: Don't wear heels or any shoes that are going to damage the treadmill belt. And pay attention to your shoes that they support proper posture while standing or walking. Some users will wear their nice looking shoes to work and to meetings, and another more comfortable pair for walking and standing.
- Practice proper ergonomics: Make sure that your monitor is eye level and that your keyboard is near your hips when you're standing, walking, and leaning. If your reaching, leaning, or slouching, you can create problems for your neck, lower back, and upper back. Check out our best monitor arms list.