Treadmill Desk

We are kicking off our Small Business Wellness series with our most recent wellness option here at Home Health Testing.  After reading a blog post by Gina Trapani at Smarterware about switching to a stand up desk, I became intrigued with offering some desk alternative in our office.  Since we are an online company, we all spend our days in front of a computer at a traditional sit down desk.  We also spend time taking online webinars and classes which is a perfect opportunity for an alternative to sitting down.

Our treadmill workstation was added in an extra office and is available for our entire staff to use.  We purchased a basic treadmill on craigslist and positioned it in the corner of the office with the monitor on a shelf on the wall in front of the treadmill.  Since the treadmill had two large cupholders in front of the display panel, we were able to fit recycled yogurt containers in the cup holders to mount a keyboard and mouse tray over the display panel.  The cost of the project was about $105 which was used to purchase the treadmill and shelf.  We recycled or reused an extra computer and the keyboard tray from an old desk here in the office.

Treadmill desks have been promoted over the last few years by Mayo Clinic researcher, James Levine.  Dr. Levine studies daily activity or inactivity and obesity.  His focus is on how people burn calories when not exercising or basically during their daily activities.  Dr. Levine’s studies have shown that adding extra movement into your office routines by using a treadmill desk can burn 100-130 calories an hour at slow speeds of less than two miles an hour.

Additional research is currently being conducted at Rutgers University by Brandon Alderman to see if using a treadmill desk and exerting low level of activity actually improves productivity.  “We’re learning that people perform better when given the opportunity to stand and move around while they’re at work,” Alderman said. “So from a productivity standpoint, it might be best if they’re also moving while they’re working.”

In a recent NY Times article, Is Sitting a Lethal Activity,  Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center said:

This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.

There is plenty of compelling research to support moving during your workday, but really it just makes sense.  You feel better when given the opportunity to move around versus sitting in the same position all day long.  To promote that general feeling of health and well being, a treadmill desk is a great option for any business and a very affordable option for small businesses to encourage healthy lifestyles.


  1. Sue says:

    Great to see that the word about treadmill desks is getting out there. I use a TrekDesk Treadmill Desk which I purchased from It fits my existing treadmill perfectly and has allowed me to lose weight and regain energy during the day. Keep spreading the word about moving through the day!

  2. Rob says:

    This is a great post about the Treadmill Desk! Like Sue in the previous comment I am a treadmill desk Evangelist! I would love to have my setup at work. I use it at home when I am working on my master’s degree homework. I am waiting for an opportune time to ask my boss if I can bring my treadmill desk to work. I am saving for the Trek-Desk because the SurfShelf is not quite big enough for my needs at work. My job is perfect though for the treadmill desk. I spend most of my day working in a database and am very sedentary. I find I am very productive when I walk at ~1.5 mph while working on homework. If I am writing a paper I can walk at 3 mph and use Dragon Naturally Speaking as well. Thanks for the great blog post!