I’m not going to tell you how bad sitting all day is for you. Instead, we’re going to focus on the positives. This guide will help lead you through the maze of under-desk treadmills, and tell you what you should know so you can choose the best one.
We’ll soon have you up on your feet, walking and you know what that means? …No more taking life sitting down.
But first there’s some general stuff you should know:
Under-desk treadmills are a welcome and relatively new trend in the office world. Although the first one did make its debut back in 2007, they’re still not as de rigueur as they should be. The sedentary lifestyle is not natural to us – even if it is the norm.
Contrary to what you might think, they’re not just regular running machines with a low profile design. They are specifically built for walking at a comfortable pace while you work, so the maximum speed you will see in a true under desk machine is around 4 mph.
That may sound slow but most people walk between 1.2 and 1.5 miles per hour while using an under desk treadmill because that’s the speed range that feels most comfortable and stable for typing, talking on the phone or whatever else you do. So 4 mph is pretty much more than you’d really need.
The idea here is to keep moving and still be productive.
…And if you need to convince your boss, you can mention a study that was conducted at Stanford which found participants were 60% more creative when using an office treadmill.
Our Top Picks for The Best Under Desk Treadmill
|Best Affordable Option||Rebel Treadmill 1000 Under Desk Treadmill|
|Best High-End Option||iMovR ThermoTread GT Under Desk Treadmill|
|Best Budget Option||Titan Fitness Under Desk Walking Treadmill|
Click below to jump to each topic:
- Best Affordable Option
- Best High-End Option
- Best Budget Option
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Under Desk Treadmills We’ve Reviewed
Best Affordable Option: Rebel Treadmill 1000 Under Desk Treadmill
Best Affordable Option
The Rebel 1000 is the perfect example of a built-from-scratch design.
This is not a treadmill you’d ever find at the gym, there’s nothing that hints of repurposed running treadmill about it.
Real thought has been put into Rebel’s design, it’s been specifically built for under desk walking while you type, talk on the phone or whatever else you do.
To be perfectly honest there are better-quality more durable machines out there and we will be looking at the best you can buy next. But they do come at a cost and a high one at that. You’ll be looking at around the $1,500 price mark before you’ll get something that’s designed with a true pro in mind. But when all’s said and done, they are just beefier versions of this model.
For people not wanting to invest a huge outlay in something that’s basically a new concept in how you’ll spend your working day or those that feel they may not need a heavy-duty mega-machine, the Rebel is frankly better value for money than anything in its price range. It’s also why it’s made one of our top picks.
The Rebel’s speed ranges from 0.5 to 2.0 miles per hour. On paper that sounds way too slow doesn’t it?
But in fact, you are likely to feel most comfortable walking at around 1.2 to 1.5 miles per hour. Remember desk walking should make you more productive not hamper your efficiency by making you feel out of breath, tired or giving you an unsteady hand.
And that gets me to another important point. While the Rebels nearest competitor, the Lifespan TR800-DT3, which incidentally costs $200 more than this model, does have a higher speed limit of 4 mph, four miles per hour is way too fast for walking while still being able to type or work effectively.
Let’s face it, you’re soon going to fall out of love with your treadmill if it makes you sweat or feel like you’ve just completed a marathon – especially if you are in an office environment where you need to stay focussed and look professional.
There’s also another good reason for the lower speed limit: A motor that’s specifically tuned for lower walking speeds will have a longer life than one that isn’t. You see, a motor that’s not been tuned to low-speed walking has to overcome a huge amount of friction in order to pull a heavyweight on a rubber belt across an underlying deck.
This machine, however, is built with a high-torque motor specifically designed for the purpose of walking at a slow speed over an extended period of time.
…And here’s an a-ha moment: Rebel say that if you need to convince your boss that a treadmill desk is a good idea, they shouldn’t feel any worries over safety issues with a treadmill that has a top speed of 2 mph.
The treadmill arrives fully assembled so you can use it straight from the box.
You simply slide it under a standing desk on its front wheels. Put the console on your desktop, plug it in and press start …and that’s it! No tedious setup involved. You can start walking straight away.
Now that brings me to the console. This one is a no-frills basic function box that you stick (not literally) on your desk. It tracks your speed, time and distance. But really what else do you really need? The Lifespan TR800-DT3 does have Bluetooth, but its connection is patchy and the stats no more reliable or accurate than the pedometer app that you’d use on your phone for walking outside. Lifespan’s app, in particular, has terrible reviews.
The treadmill itself with its silver-tone frame is better looking than other true under desk treadmills, but it’s a shame the console’s not sleeker, more ultra-modern in its appearance. Then again, none of them are. Even the high-end iMovR’s one with its touch-screen LCD still looks a little clunky to me. They kinda look like they’re been designed to be used in a laboratory rather than on a minimalist modern stylish desk.
Nevertheless, basic as it is, it doesn’t skimp on the important stuff. It has a couple of features that make it a winner. It will retain your stats for up to 20 minutes after you stop walking and it’s handy to know that you can also turn off the sound on the console so you’re not going to annoy your coworkers with any bleeping.
And that’s the important thing here, if you are using it in an office environment, this treadmill is quiet. …Ok, not ultra-quiet like the iMovR, but then this one isn’t likely to annoy your coworkers any more than the high-end one would, simply because the sound of your own footsteps will be louder than the hum of the machine itself.
What sets this apart from all the rest and demonstrates it’s built for purpose design, is that every time you start this machine, it comes up to speed and slows down slowly and smoothly. Now that’s something that’s unique to this machine. There’s certainly no juddering that you’d get if you tried to set a regular running machine to a speed that low.
Of course, that means it takes you a little longer to step down from the machine but if you need to keep rushing off somewhere at top speed that often, you’re probably in the wrong job, and the sensation of the gentle speed up and slow down feels pretty relaxed and when you’re in the zone it kinda goes along with the natural flow of your work.
Now for the caveat:
This is a nice, built-for-purpose machine, it’s lightweight so you can easily move it out of the way on its front wheels if you need to, but it’s not built for those on the heavier side. If you’re under 250 lbs you’re fine, but if you’re over, it just simply lacks the solidity and power to cope.
Likewise, if you’re at athlete level but stuck all day behind a desk, you’d be much better off investing in an iMovR to get something that’s built like a rock.
That said everything I said at the start still stands, if you don’t want to invest a huge amount in something that’s a new concept to your working day or if you feel you don’t need a heavy-duty mega-machine, the Rebel is still better value for money than anything in its price range.
Now for the basics: It has a UL-certified, motor with a 2-year warranty for the motor alone. You also get a 30-day moneyback guarantee, a 1-year warranty for parts, labor, and electronics and a 20-year warranty for the frame.
What We Like:
- Smooth Function – Every time you start this machine, it comes up to speed and slows down smoothly and gently.
- User-Friendly Console – Unlike others out there, this one will retain your stats for up to 20 minutes after you stop walking and most importantly if you’re using this treadmill in an office environment, you also can turn off the beeping sound on the console so you’re not going to annoy your coworkers.
- Good Office Choice – If you need to convince your boss that a treadmill desk is a good idea, this is a good choice because they shouldn’t feel any worries over safety issues with a treadmill that has a top speed of 2 mph.
Things to Consider:
Although it doesn’t record steps or calories burned and there’s no Bluetooth with this option, it’s not meant to be a piece of gym equipment it’s intended for you to work productively while you walk so these extras could be more of a distraction. Other machines that have Bluetooth often have a patchy connection and the apps that they connect to tend to be pretty poor.
This is a lightweight machine in every respect. If you’re on the heavy side or you’re a true pro walker, you should skip this one and go for the iMovR below.
- Machine Weight: 88 lbs
- Dimensions: 63″ long x 24″ wide
- Belt size: 49.6″ long x 18.1″ wide
- Step-up height: 4.5″
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
Check the latest price for the Rebel Treadmill 1000 on Amazon.
Best High-End Option: iMovR ThermoTread GT Under Desk Treadmill
Best High-End Option
What’s so good about these high-end machines – I mean don’t they all do basically the same thing?
Well, there is a good reason we’ve chosen the iMovR as our best High-End Choice, and that is, it’s so much more durable and heavy-duty than the rest, that it leaves all its competitors in the shade.
If you are serious about your fitness, this machine can handle those with the highest levels of stamina. Its wider walking area and strong construction, which will comfortably accommodate any gait and users up to 400 lbs, makes this the best choice out there for the office or those that work full-time at home.
Let’s put this into perspective, there are no limits on how long you can walk on this machine – something that’s not true of its competitors. Lifespan models, for example, have a daily limit of 6-10 hours. Even if, you have no intention of walking that long every day, that time limit does say something about the durability of the machine.
As mentioned in the previous section, motors that haven’t been specifically tuned to low walking speeds have to overcome a tremendous amount of friction in order to pull the weight of a person on a rubber belt across an underlying deck. This puts a massive strain on the drivetrain – you know, the group of components that deliver power to the belt.
The iMovR, with its high-torque motor|drivetrain, (rollers, flywheel, and pully, etc) is specifically designed for the purpose of walking at a comfortably slow pace of between 0.5 and 2.5 mph over an extended period of time.
And though you won’t hear it running, there’s a built-in fan to cool the motor so you can walk as much as you want without any risk of overheating the motor.
It’s not just the fan that’s quiet either, this machine is super quiet – even for a high-end machine, it’s quiet. At 42.7 dB that’s less than the average HVAC system in most offices.
Unlike cheaper options with standard melamine decks, which can bounce as you walk, there’s no trampoline effect here. The iMovR’s deck is made from a 1″ thick – bakelite material which greatly contributes to the overall solidity of the machine.
The deck’s wide too, while cheaper models that say they have an ultra-wide belt at 18″, this one gives you 20″ to play with. That’s more than enough width to feel comfortable even allowing for different gaits.
So you can see, it’s sturdy, strong and up for the job, and that’s all backed up by the super-powerful 3 horse-power motor.
Of course, all that beefiness means it’s got some weight behind it – a whopping 147 lbs to be exact.
So as a work station it’s pretty much best left as is – that’s where you’ll actually be using it. If you want to stand rather than walk, you can always add one of iMovR’s standing mats, designed to take the pressure off your joints.
Now for the techy bit:
Let’s talk about that touch-screen LCD console. While all the rest have basic fixed functionality, the ThermoTread GT takes things to the next level.
It’s the first of its kind to track multiple users’ sitting, standing, and walking times, plus calories burned, speed, distance walked, and steps taken.
That makes this treadmill ideal for sharing among coworkers or other family members.
The programmable timer even reminds users to take breaks or change sit-stand-walk mode if you wish.
There’s no repeatedly pressing buttons every time you come back to it after stepping away for a few minutes. The console is able to easily store and retrieve users preferences and usage information.
If you’re an individual user, what I’m going to say next won’t matter to you, but any bosses out there will love this: There’s a liability waiver button that’s required to be pressed at the start, much like on a sat nav. This protects your organization from liability in the event of any unsafe operation and makes the iMovR an ideal option for a corporate organization.
Please don’t get too excited, the much anticipated iMovR CloudStation promised for 2018 has yet to make an appearance. When|if it ever does, it will come in the shape of a long power bar, to be installed underneath your desk.
Your electrical devices such as your treadmill and automatic desk will be able to connect to it. The CloudStation will be able to control all the equipment’s functions and it will automatically record and sync the data from each session with advanced precision.
It will also have the ability to work with software to analyze and interpret the usage and fitness data of each user, and even the functionality of the machine itself telling you when it’s time to lubricate.
This next-generation technology will make Bluetooth with its sketchy connection a relic of the past.
Whether the wait will be a long one or it’s just around to corner we simply don’t know. They’re working on it.
But for me, this technology is superfluous. It certainly wouldn’t sway me to buy the treadmill and until there’s an under desk, treadmill walking category in the Olympics it shouldn’t sway you either.
The quality of the treadmill itself is what counts, and that alone makes this one the best you can buy.
What We Like:
- Heavy-Duty – It will hold up to 400 lbs so there’s no chance the machine will slow down under your weight if you’re on the heavier side. It’s also built for heavy prolonged use. And can take on those with the stamina of an ox. Simply put the machine is strong and it’s built to last.
- Advanced Touch-Screen LCD Console – It’s the first of its kind to track multiple users’ sitting, standing, and walking times, plus calories burned, speed, distance walked, and steps taken and remember, it’s able to easily store and retrieve users preferences and usage information.
- Quiet Operation – This is as quiet as they come. At 42.7 dB it’s less noisy than the average HVAC system in most offices so unless you wear loud shoes they won’t even notice you’re there.
- Strong Deck – Made from 1″ thick – bakelite material, this deck is strong. You won’t find yourself bouncing like a kangaroo everytime you take a step.
- Wide walking Area|Belt – 20″ is as wide as they come, for a comfortable walking area and allowing for all gaits.
Things to Consider:
- iMovR CloudStation – Don’t let the promise of this technology persuade you to buy the machine. All that technology is useless if the treadmill isn’t up to much. The quality of the treadmill itself is what counts, and that alone makes this one the best you can buy.
- Machine Weight: 147 lbs
- Dimensions: 67.5″ x 28.35″ x 9.5″
- Belt size: 50″ long x 20″ wide
- Step-up height: <5″
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
- Power Cord Length: 100″
Check the latest price and color options for the iMovR ThermoTread GT on Amazon.
Best Budget option: Titan Fitness Under Desk Walking Treadmill
Best Budget option
The Titan is a good contender for the Rebel, to be honest, there’s not much in it. And this one does have some advantages that you may find makes it a better option for you.
Firstly it costs around $100 less than the Rebel and it also has a couple of extra console features.
There are a couple of minor reasons why this one is less suitable for the office, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice little option for working from home.
Firstly the console bleeps, they all do, of course, but the beep sound can be switched off on the Rebel’s console and there’s currently no way to do that on this one.
It must be said that the bleep isn’t particularly loud and it only beeps when you switch it on or change the speed up or down by the half increments it’s set to but if you don’t want to risk disturbing your coworkers, that may be a big deal to you.
Also, this one has a top speed of 4 miles per hour so it may be harder to convince your boss that this under desk treadmill is a good idea than it would be with one that has a top speed of 2 mph – after all, they’re not likely to have worries over safety issues with a treadmill that only has a top speed of 2 mph.
If, like me, you work from home, however, this one has some nice features in its favor: The console displays speed, time and distance but unlike our Rebel choice it also records steps and estimated calories burned too. It’s also FITSHOW App compatible, though whether that’s a good thing is debatable given that the reviews for the app are pretty bad.
The machine itself is quiet, and you’re more likely to hear your own footsteps than the background hum of the machine itself.
It comes fully assembled too so you can basically use it straight from the box, and the company say they offer all their customers 1-yeat warranty against defects in material and workmanship for a period of 1 year following the date of purchase.
On paper, this looks like a good option, it’s under $500 and that’s a whopping $1000 cheaper than the high-end machines. But then you wouldn’t expect it to be as strong or as durable as the higher-end machines or it would be seriously underpriced.
These under desk treadmills aren’t cheap – even the so-called cheap ones. After all, these machines are not manual treadmills and like anything that’s only of value if its parts are working, you are taking a chance. The shorter warranty doesn’t help either.
But its US distribution centers are local and the company is fully contactable and friendly. So unlike those admittedly sleek gorgeous looking Chinese|Japanese models that have motors not built for continuous slow speeds and iffy (potentially very expensive) returns options, this one, for its price, is a good choice.
What We Like:
- Value for Money – For under the $500 mark this is a nice little affordable option.
- Multi-Function Console – The console displays speed, time and distance but unlike the Rebel, it also records steps and estimated calories burned.
Things to Consider:
- App – It’s also FITSHOW App compatible but don’t get too excited, the reviews for the app aren’t great.
- Not the Best Choice for the Office – The console bleeps, of course, they all do, but the bleep sound can be switched off on the Rebel’s console and there’s currently no way to do that on this one.
- Machine weight: 114 lbs
- Dimensions: 65” L x 25” W x 8” H,
- Belt size: 53″ long x 18″ wide
- Step-up height: 6″
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
Click to View Price:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you run on a treadmill desk?
A true under desk treadmill will only have a maximum speed of 4 mph or under. They aren’t designed for running.
There are two good reasons for this: Firstly in order to type or whatever else you do at your desk, you’ll find there’s a limit at which you can work efficiently with a steady hand – and that’s a lot slower than you’d think.
Most people walk at between 1.2 and 1.5 mph. Underdesk treadmills are built just for that purpose. But secondly, a motor that’s specifically tuned for low speeds will last much longer than one that isn’t. A running treadmill motor would have to overcome a huge amount of friction in order to pull a person on a rubber belt.
That’s why you should choose one that’s specifically built for the purpose.
Do treadmill desks really work?
Yes, they absolutely do. You have to think of them in a different way from any piece of equipment you’d find at the gym, though.
Under desk treadmills are a healthy alternative to sitting down all day. Sitting is known to cause a dazzling array of health concerns including increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, excess body fat and high cholesterol.
In today’s society, it has become the norm to sit at a desk all day, and then sit in your car to drive home, followed by more sitting in the evening to watch tv or go out and sit while socializing with friends. But that doesn’t mean it’s natural for us. Using an under desk treadmill will keep you moving, and while you will burn extra calories, that’s really not the point.
The point is just to keep moving.
Is it good to walk on a treadmill every day?
Walking everyday day can take a little getting used to, especially if you’ve worked for a long time at a desk job. You should set your own pace and not aim to walk all-day at first or it will become a battle rather than an easy and enjoyable experience.
But walking every day is good for you and it’s much better for your joints than just standing.
The U.S. Department of Health recommends adults to do at least 2 1/2 hours to 5 hours of moderate exercise a week or 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours of vigorous- activity per week. If you’re not into fitness then that first option will appeal to you more.
And if you are, you’ll be out running or down at the gym in your spare time and walking at work will help you stay fit.
Either way, an under desk treadmill is a good idea.
How much does a treadmill desk cost?
Under desk, treadmills aren’t cheap. They are specifically designed for heavy and extensive use so a decent quality heavy-duty one will cost around $1500 or more.
These high-end ones are the ones you should choose for an office setting especially if the treadmill will be shared between several people.
There are some good options that do cost under half that amount though, and they would be suitable for home use, especially if you’re not walking all day.
Other Under Desk Treadmills We’ve Reviewed:
These are the products that didn’t quite make our top picks, but they’re still pretty good so you might like to take a look:
It features a blue light deck walking mode and a green light for running.
- Walking or running mode.
- It has a blue or green light on the deck to indicate mode.
- YPOO app function.
This one is for light use and easy storage. It’s basically a 2 in 1 walking and running machine.
- Bluetooth for audio and music.
- The two modes are walk 1-4km/h and run up to 12km/h.
- It has an LCD screen that displays time, distance, speed, and calories burned.