Treadmill Desk Buying Guide

October 21, 2014
Last Update: June 23, 2016
Treadmill Desk Buying Guide

Walking on a treadmill desk while you work is an easy way to add activity and exercise to your long workday. Treadmill desk benefits include having increased energy, reduced joint and low back pain from prolonged sitting or standing, improved productivity, weight loss, and reduced blood pressure.

If you are concerned about productively working while walking, using a treadmill desk will assuredly be easier than you might think. As the leader in office exercise desks, at LifeSpan we’ve been told by thousands of customers how easy it was to make the transition from sitting to alternating between sitting and walking or from using a standing desk to incorporating walking into their day. Tasks like talking on the phone, participating in conference calls, responding to emails, and typing are surprisingly easy. Selecting the best treadmill desk is an important part of your success to help you make a long-term change in how you work.

It is important to know that a treadmill desk is more than just a desk attached to a common fitness treadmill – treadmill desks are designed to be used daily for multiple hours at slow speeds, something that fitness treadmills aren’t designed to handle.

In this treadmill desk buying guide we’ve answered the most common customer questions and included additional information to assist you in buying the best treadmill desk.

The following common treadmill desk questions are answered below:

  1. Floor Space: How much room do I need for a treadmill desk?

  2. Noise: Will my treadmill desk be distracting for those around me?

  3. Safety: Should I be concerned with treadmill desk safety in the workplace or home?

  4. Usage: How frequently does the average user walk on their treadmill desk?

  5. Desk Type: What type of standing desk is most appropriate for my office setting?

  6. Warranty & Service: If I have a problem, what can I expect from the product warranty?

  7. Maintenance: What kind of upkeep and maintenance will I be expected to perform?

treadmill desk dimensions

Floor Space: How much room do I need for a treadmill desk?

Looking at a treadmill desk as two separate components: treadmill and desk. You will need approximately 6 feet to support the length of the treadmill with 3 feet of clearance behind the treadmill. The standing desk you pair with your treadmill can range from 38 inches wide to 72 inches wide. If you plan on using your treadmill desk as a complement to a traditional desk or in a shared environment, 38 inches is the most common choice. If you plan on utilizing a sit-to-stand setting where you place the treadmill on one side of the desk and stool or chair on the other, a 72 inches wide desk is recommended. For sit-to-stand workstations, remember to not only consider the size of the desk but also the inside dimensions between the posts to give you ample space to slide in a chair.

Noise: Will my treadmill desk be distracting for those around me?

Treadmill desk noise, produced by the motor and from walking, should be considered when walking in an open area around coworkers or if you plan to walk while working on the phone or on conference calls.

The impact from your footstep will produce noise. If the desk is physically attached to the treadmill it may also create vibrations that transfer up the desk posts and to the desktop. These vibrations can be distracting as you’re trying to work. The first solution to reducing walking noise is to produce a quality treadmill with quality components. Part of a quality treadmill needs to include a suspension system with shocks to absorb the impact of walking rather than pass the impact and noise along. The second solution is keeping the desk and treadmill separate from one another, eliminating the transfer of vibrations to the desktop surface.

Measuring motor noise depends on the location of the measurement device and what speed the user is walking. It’s important that the treadmill is equipped with a large enough motor and geared appropriately to perform with minimal increase motor noise. If you’re paying attention to manufacturer claims, make sure any testing is performed by an independent third party and supported with testing results and certifications where appropriate.

treadmill desk safety

Safety: Should I be concerned with treadmill desk safety in the workplace or home?

Even though treadmill desks have been proven safe over the years, the question of safety still comes up for discussion. From a potential risk perspective, someone using a treadmill could misstep while walking and lose their balance, or someone unaware that the treadmill is operating could step on a moving belt and lose stability. If treadmill desk safety is a consideration for you consider the following:

  1. Maximum Speed: The higher the speed supported by a treadmill desk the higher the potential risk. You will find that different treadmill desks on the market will have varying maximum speed settings. As a safety precaution, businesses typically prefer a 2.0 mph maximum speed setting, and home users prefer a maximum speed option of 4.0 mph. Due to a lack of handrails, treadmill desk speeds over 4.0 mph are not recommended.
  2. Side Rails: A treadmill’s side rails run parallel alongside the treadmill belt, providing a stable place to stand while the treadmill belt is in motion. You will find that not all treadmill desks in the market include side rails. A lack of side rails can lead to your foot getting placed half on and half off the belt while the treadmill belt is still moving, resulting in a loss of balance.
  3. Auto Pause: From a safety perspective, potential falls could occur while walking on the treadmill desk or if the treadmill is left running and accidentally stepped on. Treadmill desks that automatically pause after you step off the treadmill can be handy, especially if you forget the treadmill is running after walking away.
  4. Walking Belt Markings: An adequately marked treadmill belt will provide a visual indication of belt movement.
  5. Step-Up Height: The closer the walking surface is to the ground the easier it is to get on and off your treadmill.
  6. Incline: Walking at an incline on a treadmill desk is not recommended by ergonomists as it takes your body out of a neutral position and places strain on your back and joints. Because of this, most treadmill desks don't include incline capabilities.

Usage: How frequently does the average user walk on their treadmill desk?

Treadmill desks tend to be used by individuals adding exercise desks to their home or work offices as a complement to their traditional desk, or by businesses in shared environments, including activity areas, conference rooms, hallways and open areas.

Our research indicates that a majority of individuals use their treadmill desks on average between 1 – 3 hours per day and by businesses between 6 – 8 hours per day. Of course there are users who use their treadmill desks more than 3 hours per day and business that fall below 6 hours or over 8 hours per day. In making the correct purchase decision for a new treadmill desk, it’s important to set a planned usage for your treadmill desk and purchase appropriately.

Desk Type: What type of standing desk is most appropriate for my office setting?

There are two different treadmill desk types available on the market, what we’re calling an integrated treadmill desk (a combination of treadmill and desk) and an under-desk treadmill (a treadmill and standalone console). Available integrated treadmill desks come in a variety of different desk options, ranging from manual-height adjustable to electric-height adjustable desks to desks of varying sizes and colors. However, if you’re looking to pair a treadmill with a very specific desk, you may want to consider purchasing an under-desk treadmill, letting you pair any standing desk with a treadmill. The main factor you will want to consider when doing so is the step-up height of the treadmill, which has a direct impact on the maximum desk height needed. Most under-desk treadmill bases have a 5-6 inch step-up height. If you are using your own desk, make sure it will rise to a maximum height that accommodates the additional 5-6 inches occupied by the treadmill. It's important to select a standing desk that will reach proper ergonomic heights to avoid unnecessary strain on the joints and decrease the potential of fatigue.

Warranty & Service If I have a problem, what can I expect from the product warranty?

Product manufacturer warranties generally include separate lengths of coverage for Parts, Frame and Labor. During the warranty period, if a problem exists, the manufacturer will assist you in diagnosing the problem, ship the appropriate part for repair, and dispatch a service technician to complete the repair.

Maintenance What kind of upkeep and maintenance will I be expected to perform?

We recommend you visually inspect and clean your treadmill desk every 3 months, make sure the walking belt is properly centered, and depending on the model lubricate the belt. Basic maintenance will improve the life of the treadmill desk.

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