We’re staunchly opposed to gimmicks here, but sometimes there are “gimmicks” that actually work enough to be legitimately useful. A walking treadmill desk is one of them, mainly because it allows you to kill two birds with one stone: getting some low (or maybe mid) level intensity cardio while you still have access to a desk.
The Preliminary Question: Can a Walking Under The Desk Treadmill Actually Help With Weight Loss?
The honest answer is that yes it can. Not by a lot, but still enough to be worth considering. Let’s crunch some numbers:
The major restriction is that if the pace gets too intense, it will detract from one’s ability to concurrently work. People obviously can’t be huffing and puffing while they’re on a conference call either.
According to Cronometer.com, a 160lb male burns about 150 calories per hour of walking at what we’ll call a “workable” pace. This will go up or down a marginal amount if you weigh more or less.
Another restriction is that not many people can (or are willing to) walk more than 2 hours per day. All in all you’re maybe looking at burning 300 calories max per day with a treadmill desk. That roughly translates to about 1/2 pound of weight loss per week, or 25 pounds per year.
Beyond that, though, there’s the added benefit of getting that extra exercise independent of any potential weight loss, especially if the alternative is just sitting for 8 plus hours per day.
The Problem: All In One Treadmill Desks Are Expensive
Most treadmill desks are all in one, meaning the desk is included as part of the overall product. While this is nice and convenient, most of these units go for over four figures, which is kind of hard to justify when a regular old treadmill can be acquired for just a few hundred bucks.
But the other problem, with a conventional treadmill, is that the railing and control console would displace any sort of feasible desk or other such work surface.
The Solution: A Competitively Priced “Bottom Only” Treadmill
We were happy to see that a company, Titan Fitness, created a solution to this problem: a bottom only treadmill that can easily roll right under any desk and is comparatively priced to regular treadmills.
The unit features rolling wheels at the front to make placement easy, and it’s nearly 8 feet long so as to give you plenty of berth to walk with your desk necessarily hanging over at least part of it. It’s operable with a simple controller that can sit right on your desk so you don’t have to bend over to turn it off. It’s also only 88 lbs which is quite light and not all that hard to move around if you need to.
The unit has a few limitations: The company explicitly recommends not running on it, and we wouldn’t either because running on a treadmill without support railings is just dangerous. There’s also an upper weight limit of 250lbs which might restrict some folk.
We’d recommend getting a desk stand to elevate your computer or workstation high enough while you walk, which also preserves the option of sitting back down if you’d rather do that at times.
Part of long term success in health and fitness is by taking advantage of high yield, low effort strategies where you can, and getting in some walking while you work is definitely one such strategy. It’s not going to make a huge difference, but possibly enough of one to move the needle enough in the right direction.