What is an Under-Desk Treadmill Base?
There are two main types of treadmills. The most common is the treadmill that's used for running that has 2 support arms on the side and a console in the front that you can grab onto or rest your arms on. The other is a under-desk treadmill base that doesn't have the arms or the console in front of you because it is designed to slide under your desk. These usually have a console that controls the treadmill that you set on top of your desk.
Why use an Under-Desk Treadmill?
Under-desk treadmills are for people that already have a desk and don't need to buy a treadmill base/standing desk combination. Now that standing desks are becoming more popular, even more people are using treadmills to work. Many people have found that using a treadmill while working is a great way to burn extra calories, increase productivity, avoid back pain from sitting for long periods, and improve their mood.
Using a Regular Treadmill
Running or jogging treadmills are designed to be used at medium to fast speeds. Using them at lower speeds stresses the motor and increases the chances of the motor failing.
Under-desk treadmills are designed for use at low speeds and if maintained, should last for a long time.
Treadmill bases can get expensive and we understand that most buyers aren't looking to spend thousands, so we use the following criteria to find the best overall value.
- Belt length & width
- Customer rating
- Max user weight
- Customer service
We have spent thousands of hours in the non-sedentary lifestyle space. For several years we have been testing treadmills, treadmill desks, standing desks, standing desk converters, stool, chairs, leaning chairs, bike desks, keyboards, and other ergonomic products.
Our team spends a lot of time using products, reading others reviews, watching videos, speaking to manufacturers, and comparing products so you don't have to.
Best Under-Desk Treadmills
We tested many under-desk treadmill bases and found 3 winners based on price:
You'll see that 2 of the top 3 picks are from LifeSpan Fitness. They're a well known fitness manufacturer that has been in the industry for a long time. Their products are well made, they have solid warranties, and they have good customer service.
Best Base Under $1,000
- Accommodates users up to 350 lbs
- Strong motor
- Speed up to 4 mph
- Well-built machine
- For use up to 6 hours/day
Best Base Around $500
- Easy setup
- Speed up to 4 mph
- Issues with some of the electronic functions
- Clear winner in this price range as there are very few competitors
Best Base Under $1,500
- Can be used up to 10 hours per day
- Speed up to 4 mph
- Accommodates users up to 400 lbs
- Very sold machine
How to Use a Treadmill Desk
It's recommended that you walk 1-2 mph while working. Walking faster than that can make it difficult to type of use a mouse, and you could get sweaty while at work.
Use shoes that promote good posture, that are comfortable, and won't damage the treadmill belt.
Many users will rotate between walking on their treadmill, sitting, and standing in a normal work day. Some activities lend themselves more to walking, such as talking on the phone, reading, or watching videos, and others that require more intense concentration are better done sitting or standing.
Another option is to purchase a standing mat that you can place on top of your treadmill so you can stand when not walking. Keep in mind that this will often add 2" or more to your height, so make sure your desk can accommodate the extra height. If you have to look down at your monitor because the desk is too low, or lean forward to type, you could end up with back and/or neck pain.
Notes on Our Top Choices
The Titan Fitness model is a solid choice under $500. There aren't many options under $500, but the Titan stacks up in many ways to models that are double and even triple the price.
At 114 lbs, some people feel that it's heavy, but remember that lighter treadmills are usually not built as sturdy, and will give you problems later.
It can accommodate users up to 250 lbs and has a max speed up to 4 mph.
For this price range, the belt is large: 53" long by 18" wide. For a walking treadmill this should be sufficient even for people with long legs. If it were for running, you would need a longer belt to accommodate longer strides.
Another selling point is it's height at only 8" tall. Having too tall of a treadmill base can cause issues with your orientation to your desk. If your desk can't raise up high enough so you're not looking down at your monitor and to reach your keyboard, you could end up back and neck pain.
The main complaints about the Titan are always about the electronics. If you pause your walking, the stats will reset. The step counter isn't accurate, but if you own a fitbit, you can put it in your pocket and get a good count. Wearing the fitbit doesn't help as your arms will be on your desk and not swinging. There are a lot of complaints about the bluetooth as well.
So if this fits in your budget, and the issues with the electronics won't be an issue, the Titan is a quiet treadmill with fast shipping from a company with great customer service.
The LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 has a 20" wide belt, which is great for having enough room to walk. We've found that when working on a treadmill, our feet tend to drift a little as we're focused on what we're working on and not where we're walking.
The TR1200-DT3 is the quietest of all the LifeSpan models, measuring 48.9 dB at 2 mph, which is similar to a conversation.
The console is pretty standard, tracking distance, time, calories, number of steps, and there's a USB port for charging electronics. One user commented that there's a lot of button pressing that needs to be done to find the speed that they want, but they spoke to LifeSpan's customer service and said that it was an easy fix and customer service was great.
The TR1200-DT3 has the same solid warranty found on all LifeSpan treadmills:
- Motor- 3 years
- Parts- 2 years
- Labor- 1 year
If you're less than 350 lbs and plan on using the machine less than 6 hours per day, the TR1200-DT3 is a great choice.
This category was the most difficult for us to choose a winner. After evaluating many under-desk treadmill bases, we had to decide between the LifeSpan TR500-DT3 and the iMovR Thermotread GT.
The Thermotread has a better console and display. It is slightly quieter (42.7 dB vs. 49.1 for the TR5000-DT3), and for corporate buyers there's a liability waiver that employees must agree to before using the treadmill.
However, we chose the LifeSpan TR5000-DT3 for a few reasons.
The first is because the TR5000-DT3 has a longer belt- 56" vs. 52" (both are 20" wide). It's not a huge difference, but if you have a long stride, or if you're going a little faster (which you can go up to 4 mph on the TR5000-DT3), the extra space is useful.
The next place where the TR5000-DT3 wins out, besides it's name (just kidding), is in maximum speed. The Thermotread maxes out at 2.5 mph, and the TR5000-DT3 at 4 mph. Normally when you work on a treadmill, you're not going to go faster than 2 mph. But it's nice to have that option.
The TR5000-DT3 also self-lubricates for a year or two. The Thermotread needs be lubricated every 40 hours, which for most users who only have one person using the machine will be monthly. It's not a huge inconvenience to lubricate a treadmill, but self-lubricating is a nice upgrade.
Regarding price, they are currently priced the same, except shipping on the Thermotread is $149, and for the TR5000-DT3 is free. The TR5000-DT3 used to be around $2000, but since the Thermotread became available LifeSpan dropped their price to stay competitive.
Both models will accommodate users up to 400 lbs and are from solid companies with good customer service.
Both have 6 compression shocks on the deck which will support the joints of the users.
The warranties are almost identical with 3 years on the motor, 2 years on parts, and 1 year on labor. But the TR5000-DT3 has a slight edge by offering a lifetime warranty on the aluminum frame.
Both of these machines are great under-desk treadmills, and the current prices, which is we feel that you wouldn't go wrong in choosing either. It's a matter of what differences are most important to you.