Pros and Cons of Treadmill Desks


It sounds like a great idea—working out while you’re working. Then you can kill two birds with one stone. But sometimes things that seem like a great idea in theory don’t actually work out in reality.

If you want to know whether or not a treadmill desk is a good fit for you, then this article is for you. We’ll look at the advantages you’ll gain from getting some extra exercise in the office, as well as some disadvantages.

By the end, you should know whether a treadmill desk fits into your lifestyle!

What is a Treadmill Desk?

Before we get into the reasons why you might love a treadmill desk (and why you might not!), let’s go over the basics of what it is. Quite simply, a treadmill desk is a computer desk that is at the right height for you to be able to use while walking on a treadmill.

People have a variety of different opinions on treadmill desks. For just about everyone, it takes some time to get used to. But some people, even after trying it for a while, still don’t like using one.

Business Insider put together this video about different individuals using treadmill desks and their responses. On the whole, it was positive, although there were a few people who didn’t ever want to do it again.

While you can purchase an official treadmill desk, you may also be able to create your own DIY treadmill desk or convert your traditional treadmill into a walking desk. The important thing is to make sure that you aren’t going too fast when you use it.

Pros of a Treadmill Desk

We’ve all heard that sitting is bad for our health. Experts recommend doing something physical—even if it’s small—every 20 to 30 minutes throughout the day. Plus, in the modern age, we’ve made ourselves significantly busier, so it’s getting harder and harder to squeeze in gym time. Enter the treadmill desk!

Increases Overall Amount of Exercise

This advantage of a treadmill desk is obvious. You’ll get a lot more steps in. If you’re trying to reach 10,000 a day and you work in a typical office environment, a treadmill desk is the way to get those steps in.

Because it allows you to work and walk, you can get in as many steps as you’d like. If you take 2,000 steps per mile, and take 20 minutes to cover the distance, it wouldn’t take long to hit your daily goal. Depending on how intense your walking is, you can expect to lose at least 7.5 pounds in a year just from the treadmill desk, one study found.

In addition, we all know that there’s typically a slump in energy after lunch when our bellies are full and we just want to take a nap. Using a treadmill desk can keep you more alert and awake in the afternoons, making your time at work more productive.

And because you’re exercising regularly, you’ll get all the benefits that come from physical activity: protection against diabetes, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Plus, it’s something you can do during working hours without having to waste any time at home.

We all know that exercising helps us sleep better at night. If you’ve been struggling to get to sleep and haven’t been able to go for a walk or make it to the gym much, then a treadmill desk might solve your problems and help you get more ZZZs.

Improves Mental Function

If you walk or run on a regular basis, you know that exercise can help you think more clearly. Sometimes (actually, most of the time) when you’re dealing with a difficult problem and don’t know what to do, going for a walk will help clear things up.

This is the same for a treadmill desk. It can increase your concentration and alertness, which will boost your mood and make you more motivated to get work done. You may even experience less stress at work!

Improves Work Productivity

We’ve got one more reason to convince your boss that you should be able to use a treadmill desk, and this is a good one! While it might take some time to get used to, you will be able to improve work productivity.

Treadmill desks are ideal for calls and meetings, because you don’t have to actively focus on a computer screen, and you get the added benefit of more focus on the call. You can also share treadmill desks in an office setting, so that everyone who wants to can benefit.

Cons of a Treadmill Desk

Before you jump out the door and get a treadmill desk, it’s important to know what the downsides are too, to make sure that you’re okay with them. For treadmill desks, the cons fit into two categories.

The Treadmill Desk Itself

Obviously, if you’re tight on space, a treadmill desk isn’t a good option because it takes up a lot more space. If there’s no other space in the office, you might not be able to fit it in your cubicle.

Additionally, it is an expensive investment to purchase and maintain. While you might be lucky enough to get your employer to cover it, you might be singing another tune if you have to pay for it yourself. You’ll need to make sure to get it serviced and cleaned, too.

Finally, depending on what level you’re using the treadmill on, it could be fairly noisy, which might irritate you (and worse, your office mates). Although it’s not as loud as someone running on a treadmill, the sound could still annoy coworkers if you don’t have a home office.

Working and Walking on the Treadmill

However, while the desk itself presents some difficulties, the more challenging aspect is probably working and walking. It will definitely be an adjustment to working while walking, and some tasks may take a bit longer in the beginning.

You may also have to switch clothes if you have a meeting (whether virtual or in-person) and the expectation is that you have to wear work clothes. Obviously, you also don’t want to break into a sweat while you’re working and have to shower before the end of the day.

While too much sitting is a bad thing, too much standing is, as well. A treadmill desk shouldn’t be your only solution. You should give yourself some sitting breaks too. This is where it’s ideal if you share the desk with your coworkers because then all of you can have a turn.

Final Thoughts

In the end, treadmill desks are a great solution to squeeze in some exercise and work at the same time. While there is a learning curve, you should be able to complete most tasks while walking within a week of using a treadmill desk.

If you’ve been talking about getting more fit, a treadmill desk is a great investment into your long-term health, fitness, and workplace productivity. For some people, it just takes a little bit of time to become convinced.

If you’re still not sure, that’s okay. You might want to try a standing desk and see what you think about that. Obviously, they are cheaper than treadmill desks and can give you the opportunity to see if you like them.

You could also purchase an adjustable desk that allows you to sit or stand depending on your needs. That’s actually what I’m currently using, as I stand to write this article. Even standing is a healthier choice than sitting!

Photo of author


Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.