Can’t get away from the office to exercise? A treadmill desk could be the answer to your expanding waistline. We aren’t talking about the old school designs of a flimsy piece of furniture mounted awkwardly over a regular treadmill.
The newest designs, from LifeSpan, NordicTrack, Life Fitness and other companies feature compact, high quality tread belts with more power, versatililty and functionality.
Your options include treadmills that come with the desk, or just standalone treadmills that you can slide underneath your own existing desk. Obviously, it will be cheaper to purchase the machine alone, but you might find that the one of the treadmill desks is just what you are looking for.
Studies show you can burn 100 calories or more per hour by standing up and moving around, so having one of these handy could help you burn a couple of hundred extra calories every day.
There are a few misconceptions about the treadmill desk. For one thing, it isn’t designed to be a cardio challenging workout, but a slow, steady walk. It’s meant to help the thousands of overweight (or just under-exercised) people who would like to burn more calories while doing their jobs.
These machines are ideal for folks who have to sit in a cubicle all day long, and often don’t get any more exercise than getting up to go to the copy machine or the restroom.
The typical desk treadmill is typically shorter than a regular treadmill; the longest tread belt area measuring about 50", although some brands do offer longer models.. The motors are smaller too, generally running about 2-2.5 HP for Continuous Duty (5 hp for Peak), but some of the more expensive models offer enough power to support a large maximum user capacity of up to 400 lbs.
They usually have a top walking speed of 3.5-4.0 mph so don’t plan to run on it. If fact, companies usually recommend that you don’t walk any faster than 0.7 to 1.0 mph. It’s also recommended that you don’t operate the treadmill for long periods of time at slow speeds because it could burn out the motor.
Some companies also make the furniture-type treadmill desk design, but it may not be a good fit for people who would have problems walking and working at the same time, or for folk who would like to sit down at the desk at least part of their day. The smaller models are convenient and discrete, and would be perfect for offices, cubicles, counters, labs, booths, and more.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want just the treadmill itself, or if you also need the actual desk included or attached. There are models that are super compact and fit under your own office desk, and then there are machines with a full sized work space attached.
Some companies make both kinds, others specialize in only one or the other. It's just a matter of finding the treadmill desk that appeals to you.
Let's start with the treadmills that come with the desk, and then we will move on to those that do not.
LifeSpan Fitness - The Leader
The most popular brand on the market is LifeSpan Fitness, a company that also makes traditional treadmills, ellipticals and exercise bikes. They have been a leader in desk treadmills for years, and they are always improving upon their already high quality machines.
LifeSpan offers three manually adjusted treadmill desks and two electric models that go up and down with the touch of a button. They range in price from $999 to $2299.
The manually adjusted models include the entry level TR800-DT5, the TR1200-DT5 and the TR5000-DT5.
All of these treadmills have speeds up to 4 mph, basic consoles, two desk width options, IntelliStep step counting and Bluetooth capability for workout tracking, a unique feature especially on desk treadmills.
Choosing between the three comes down to your needs. The base TR800 has a smaller belt than the others, at 18" W x 45" L. It has a 2 HP motor and 300 lb. max user weight. The step up TR1200 has a 20" x 50" belt, 2.25 HP motor and 350 lb. max weight. The top model is the sturdiest, with a 3 HP motor and 400 lb. max weight.
The electric height adjustment models are the TR1200-DT7 and TR5000-DT7, with identical specs to their manual counterparts, plus two more options for desk width.
NordicTrack - Something a bit different
If you want something a little different, NordicTrack has two unique treadmill desks that give you a little more than the typical version. The base and the Pro version give you strong motors, incline capability (Pro), longer belts than the LifeSpans, and folding capability along with the same iFit functionality as their traditional treadmills.
They are priced at around $999-$1299, so they are comparable to the lower end LifeSpan models.
UPDATE: NordicTrack treadmill desks have been discontinued.
Life Fitness - Rock Solid Commercial choice
If you want something a bit more gym-quality, the Life Fitness Treadmill desk is a good choice. It can adjust to a wide range of heights, from 5' up to 6'4", and includes the company's patented FlexDeck belt to minimize impact on your knees and joints up to 30%. It also has all kinds of hookups for power, ethernet and USB and tracking capability.
UPDATE: Life Fitness treadmill desks have been discontinued.
Also called Under Desk Treadmills, these are machines that are just decks without the uprights, consoles and everything else you would find on a traditional treadmill.
There are a few big players in this market, but LifeSpan also leads the pack here.
LifeSpan Fitness - The Leader Here Also
Just like with the desks, LifeSpan also leads the pack when it comes to the under desk treadmills. Their DT3 series includes the TR800, TR1200 and TR5000, following the same designation as their other models. They range in price from $799 to $1499, and as you move up in the series you get more durable treadmills.
While you are checking out the LifeSpan desk treadmills on Amazon, take a look at the Titan Fitness model and the one from Rebel. Those are more like the lower end LifeSpan models, so you are probably better off with one of those.
After you've decided whether you need the treadmill and the desk, or just the treadmill for use with your own desk, choosing the ideal model will depend on your needs and your budget.
You're of average size, and the machine will see very light use...
The entry level models are OK for very light use by average height/weight individuals, so if that sounds like you then by all means go for one of the base models.
The LifeSpan TR800 series with or without the desk is a perfect choice here.
You're on the taller side, and/or the machine will see light-moderate use...
The entry level treadmill desks are not really designed for taller/heavier users or more than very light use, so consider one of the up-level models if you fall into this category.
The LifeSpan TR1200 with or without the desk, the NordicTrack Desk Treadmill Pro are your best choices here.
You're on the taller side, and/or the machine will see regular use, possibly by multiple individuals...
For heavier, regular use, you'll be better served by a desk treadmill with a larger, more cushioned belt and higher max weight capacities, so one of the higher end models will be your best bet.
The LifeSpan TR5000 with or without the desk and the Life Fitness Treadmill Desk will be your very best choices here.
UPDATE: September Treadmill Sales are on!
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