For those who like to stay active, treadmill desks seem to provide an alternative to the sedentary lifestyle of working behind a desk all day. Research shows that the more you sit, the higher your risk of getting chronic diseases. Sitting all day can also offset any benefits of exercise, since our bodies are not designed to accommodate a position that diminishes blood flow to our legs and feet and contorts our spine. Sitting is bad for you, but what are you going to do if your job requires you to sit behind a desk all day?

Enter the Treadmill Desk

Treadmill desks are usually treadmills with less powerful motors than traditional ones and go at a steady pace of about 2 miles per hour, the manufacturer’s recommended speed. If you want to move faster, they go up to a maximum of 4 mph.

People either love or hate treadmill desks; there’s no middle ground. Some people swear by them and find them effective, while others find them to be a waste of time and money. After all, they retail anywhere from $700 – $4,000. That can be a big expense for most small companies.

Are Treadmill Desks Effective?

They can be, but it depends on the user’s level of fitness. A University of Oregon study reported that in a real office setting, it wasn’t very effective, especially if it’s used as your only physical activity.

According to the study, “the physical activity was small and did not help workers meet public health guidelines for daily exercise”. There were also logistical challenges, including the high cost, that make the program unfeasible for many companies.

So in reality, to attain the moderate to vigorous physical activity benchmark of 30 minutes a day to stay healthy, most people would need to be exercising outside of the office or up the speed setting. 

Alternatives to the Treadmill Desk

Before the Treadmill desk was created, there was the standing desk. Standing desks work great and they’re a good way to keep the blood flowing while working. You can also move around a lot while standing, doing occasional stretching exercises or walking around. But spending the whole day standing can be just as harmful as sitting all day.

One of the best things to do is to take breaks throughout the day. Occasional stretches or walks around the office can increase blood flow to the legs and reinvigorate your muscles enough to spike your metabolism.

Should you buy a Treadmill Desk?

While Treadmill Desks are a novel idea and could work in the right setting, the benefits don’t necessarily justify the cost, unless you have a lot of money to burn. Nothing beats regular exercise, and there are other great ways to get the blood flowing throughout the day.

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