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Editor's Note: Updated March 9, 2023. We updated links to make sure that all of the products below were still in stock, and prices listed were correct.
Even if you manage to squeeze in a daily run, if you're not in an active line of work, you likely spend the vast majority of your day sitting down. Not only has a sedentary lifestyle been linked to health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and an increased risk of early mortality, but it may also mean you're also counteracting some of the hard work you're putting in while running or in the gym.
However, having a desk-based job doesn't mean you have to spend hours on end sitting on your behind. A walking treadmill, or under-desk treadmill, can keep you steadily moving throughout the day, boosting your metabolism and cardiovascular fitness with every step.
The Best Under-Desk Treadmills
Why Should You Get a Walking Treadmill?
Even though walking treadmills are generally less expensive than standard treadmills, most will still cost a pretty penny, but if you plan on using it daily, it will more than earn its value. To get some professional advice, we reached out to Matt Tanneberg, D.C., a sports chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist.
“Using an under-desk treadmill helps improve your overall health because you will be burning more calories by continually moving throughout the day,” said Tanneberg. He also explained that because you are standing while using your under-desk treadmill instead of slumping over in a chair, it can help reduce your risk of developing neck and upper back pain.
Of course, there is also the question of how long you should use your walking treadmill each day if you want to see benefits. Tanneberg suggests starting with one- to two-hour sessions before taking a break to sit. “Find your own balance by slowly increasing your duration walking each week and continue to monitor how your body is responding to make sure that you aren’t overdoing it,” said Tanneberg.
And on days that you can’t find time to squeeze in a workout, using your walking treadmill is a great way to keep moving and burn some calories without leaving your desk. “Walking at your desk is a perfect supplement to a healthy exercise regimen,” says Tanneberg, who recommends complementing your walking routine with a few days of weight training, as well.
What to Consider in a Walking Treadmill
Because walking treadmills (or under-desk treadmills) are very different beasts than the running treadmills you’re used to seeing, you won’t necessarily be looking for the same features when shopping for one. They typically won’t cost as much, either, as they're not usually designed to withstand miles of intense pounding and frequently offer fewer settings than their counterparts designed for running. When shopping for an under-desk treadmill, here are a few things to consider before clicking buy.
Because most people have a single dedicated workspace in their home or office, any walking treadmill you consider purchasing should be easy to store. After all, while you may want to walk while you work for part of the day, chances are you’ll also want to sit down at some point. A walking treadmill should be lightweight, easy to move, and even foldable, so that you can quickly get it out from under your desk and put it away when not in use.
The average walking speed for adults is about 3 mph. Most walking treadmills have a range of 0.5 up to 4 mph. If you plan on using your under-desk treadmill to get in some training runs, make sure it has the speed and stability to handle a faster gait. Some models are better for running than others, with some of the options on our list reaching up to 12 mph. However, most under-desk treadmills don't come equipped with handles to hold onto, which can make fast-paced walking or running a bit challenging.
Not only should you consider how easy it will be to put your treadmill away when you’re finished using it, but you also need to think about how you will control it when in use. Many treadmills come with a remote that lets you adjust your walking speed, while others—particularly those equipped with a raised screen—are typically controlled by hand.
Also, treadmills can noisy and disruptive when used in a communal home or office setting, so it’s wise to look for a model with a quiet belt. Finally, consider safety features like an automatic stop when you step off, or an energy-save mode that turns your machine off when it hasn’t been used for a while.
How We Selected
To find the best options among the many under-desk treadmills out there, we used our decades of experience using treadmills at the gym and at home, our deep familiarity with the most trusted treadmill brands, and our understanding of what you should look for—and avoid—when making a purchase. We also researched customer reviews on Amazon as well as expert reviews from trusted sources like Forbes and Techradar to bring you models for all different aesthetics, budgets, spaces, and workout needs.
Before joining Runner's World, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe. Gabi began her journalism career as a Digital Editorial Fellow for Runner’s World and Bicycling Magazine, and has since advanced to a Runner's World Editor specializing in commerce. She has a double degree in English and Media and Communication from Muhlenberg College where she also ran cross country and track.
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