Sedentary behaviour brought about by sitting long hours every day at work can be detrimental to our body and health. The World Health Organisation even updated its physical activity guidelines to emphasise the significance of modifying our less active lifestyle. The solution? Use a desk treadmill at home or in the office.

This exercise equipment conveniently fits under an adjustable work desk. This way, you can beat that deadline while burning calories. It sounds effective, not to mention time-efficient. But can this 2-in-1 answer help you achieve your fitness goals? Let’s weigh in its good and bad sides before your hop onto one.


It helps achieve healthy body weight.

Treadmills are cardio exercise machines, making them a great addition to your weight loss programme. Incorporating variations in intensity and moves to your treadmill workout can even enhance results. And so, it is not surprising that an under-desk treadmill can provide this same advantage. Several researchers also gave promising conclusions.

A 2007 study on obese office workers, for example, found that a slow-pace walk on a treadmill desk while working can increase energy expenditure (119 kcal/h). A yearlong study in 2013 also concluded that subjects lost an average of 1.4kg after using a desk treadmill daily for an hour. Obese participants on the same research even lost up to 3.4kg.

While it may not lead to tremendous weight loss, walking on a desktop treadmill at work can contribute to caloric burn. It’s way better than sitting all day in the office, too.

It promotes workplace health.

Experts say that about 30 minutes of walking can work wonders for our health. It may not be as vigorous as other forms of exercise. But doing it can still boost cardiovascular fitness, reduce body fat and increase bone and muscle strength. In turn, we enhance our defences against heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and other health risks.

Thirty minutes may be a long time when every minute counts at work. However, now that you can combine the two with a desk treadmill, even walking for an hour every day is possible.

The best part is, you won’t even know you are working out. And aside from disease protection, getting a lot of steps also helps you sleep better.

Multitasking with a Desk Treadmill

It enhances work productivity.

This advantage will make any boss happy (and buy that desk treadmill for the office) for sure! Walking can improve our cognitive functions, especially our levels of alertness and concentration. In turn, it makes us work and think better.

2015 study concluded that treadmill desk use has a delayed effect on attention and memory. I think it is somewhat similar to the many times we have to go out for a walk to clear our heads.

Another research in 2014 also stressed how walking or active workstations improve employees’ psychological well-being, citing less stress and boredom as benefits.

It allows multitasking.

On top of improved mental health, under-desk treadmills enhance productivity at work by letting us multitask. For instance, you can take business calls, do research, check emails or read documents while walking.

Most of us are experts in using our mobile phones on the go, so working and walking at the same time should not be a problem. The idea is also the same as listening to your favourite playlist or watching TV while working out.

The only difference is that, with a desktop treadmill, you’re able to finish your work duties, burn calories and get a paycheck all in one go!

It creates a healthier diversion.

OK, we’ve all been through the dreaded afternoon slump. After taking your usual lunch break, we instantly feel our energy level going downhill. But we can combat that by keeping ourselves active through a desk treadmill walk.

It helps us get back to work mode rather than think of getting a nap. Also, workplace exercise may be a healthy way to level up your usual office chit-chat!


It is an investment.

Investing for your workplace health can sometimes mean spending thousands of dollars. And being a piece of specialty equipment, under-desk treadmills can be pricey, especially for home gym owners. You will have to factor in cleaning and maintenance costs, too.

Employers may need to include their entire office’s willingness to use them consistently before buying, too. After all, it will be a waste of money if your treadmill desk only ends up collecting dust. A smart alternative is to find low-cost but quality options. My list of top treadmills under $1000 might help.

Desk Treadmill at Home

It needs considerable office space.

A desk treadmill is not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re after small exercise machines. If you’re working from home, make sure to measure your space first before purchasing a unit. Alternatively, look for a compact model or folding treadmill like the Lifespan Fitness WalkingPad Pro.

It requires practice.

Some people need time to get used to walking and working simultaneously. And the last thing you want to happen is to fall or lose your balance while on the desktop treadmill. So, make sure that the desk is stable and all work materials are secure, especially if you’re sharing the equipment with others.

Start on a manageable speed to give yourself time to adjust. Others even practice with a standing desk first before adding the leg workout. Lastly, take a break. Anything in excess is not healthy, and that includes standing at work for hours.

It is distracting.

Standard treadmills are generally louder than desk ones. Also, hearing a running noise on a treadmill is not usual while at work. Still, the whirring motor and the sound of someone stepping on the treadmill belt can be distracting for others.

It might even annoy office mates on an important phone call or meeting. What you can do, however, is to place the equipment in a separate or enclosed room.

It calls for a wardrobe change.

Walking on a treadmill while wearing a suit or a pair of dress shoes is not the most comfortable combination. So, time your session when you don’t have a big meeting for the day. Then bring or change to appropriate workout clothes if needed.


A desktop treadmill may not be for everyone. However, its work and health benefits far outweigh the downsides. Ultimately, what matters is you get to find ways to squeeze exercise into your routine, be it before, during or after work.

Good thing you have a wide variety of options to choose from other than a treadmill. Check out this list of work-from-home exercise equipment, and see which one fits your needs, space and budget!