11 treadmill desks to step up your fitness game

Health experts say sitting is the new smoking. But is a treadmill desk the cure? Check out 11 treadmill desks that combine work with (moderately) working out.

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Credit: Thinkstock
Which of these 11 treadmill desks walks the walk?

A friend of mine, a college professor in Massachusetts, has me seriously considering a treadmill desk. Somehow, despite his job and the New England winter, and the fact I exercise daily, he’s beating me in Fitbit steps. Consistently.

Not that I’m competitive. But I’ve scoured the internet, called treadmill manufacturer customer service reps and visited a few stores, hoping to identify the perfect treadmill desk. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, because no treadmill desk emerged as an obvious choice. Plus, it’s a big commitment in terms of money and office space. And though treadmill desks can help improve your health, they come with considerable disadvantages, too. You can read what I’ve learned here about the pros and cons to treadmill desks. And read on for more info on 11 products worth considering.

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Credit: WalkTop
WalkTop Treadmill Desk

Already own a treadmill? The WalkTop Treadmill Desk can sit on top of most models, the company claims — there’s a list of treadmills you can check to make sure yours is supported. The desk comes assembled and “installs in under a minute,” says the company. Reviews are mostly favorable, though one Amazon customer said the desk “may obstruct the control features on some treadmills,” so you might need to ensure your treadmill “has an emergency stop feature that will allow quick access while you’re using the product.”

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Credit: LifeSpan
LifeSpan TR800-DT3 Under Desk Treadmill

If you already have a desk and just need a treadmill, consider LifeSpan’s TR800-DT3. At 25 inches wide, LifeSpan says the under-desk treadmill is narrow enough to fit under desks that are six- or seven-feet wide and still leave space for a chair. Plus, it comes fully assembled. Though the treadmill has two wheels at the top, it weighs 120 pounds., so you probably won’t want to move it often. An LED console for adjusting the treadmill and viewing stats, such as step count, can be positioned on your desk. LifeSpan also sells two other under-desk models, the TR1200-DT3 ($999) and TR5000-DT3 ($1,499), which have more robust motors and are wider at 28.5 inches.

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Credit: NordicTrack
NordicTrack Treadmill Desk

NordicTrack’s basic Treadmill Desk is reasonably priced, at least for now — the website says its sales price is $863, down from $1,999 (retail price) and $999 (sale price). There’s a 2.6 CHP motor that powers up to 6 mph speed — most people only go up to about 2 mph when working at a treadmill desk. There are heart rate sensors built into the desktop, which is a nice feature. Also, the treadmill can be folded up when not in use to save space. The desktop swerves over to one side, and NordicTrack says you can then sit in a chair at the desk.

 

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Credit: LifeSpan
LifeSpan TR800-DT5

 Designed for ‘light use’ of about three hours of walking per day, the TR800-DT5 is LifeSpan’s least expensive treadmill desk. What do you sacrifice for the cost savings? The desk is adjusted manually instead of electrically, like the TR1200-DT7 and TR5000-DT7, and the motor is only 2 HP, the weakest of the three LifeSpan desk models in this slideshow. But many other specs are comparable. LifeSpan offers two other manual-height adjusting treadmill desks: TR1200-DT5 ($1,299) and TR5000-DT5 ($1,799), both with faster treadmill motors of 2.25 HP and 3.0 HP, respectively.

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Credit: Rebel
Rebel Desk Treadmill Workstation

Rebel Desk’s Treadmill Workstation consists of two separate pieces: a sit/stand desk (48 inches wide) available in five desktop finishes (including glass); and the Rebel Treadmill 1000, which sits under the desk. The treadmill, which only goes up to 2 mph and is supported by a 1.5 HP motor, can be purchased separately for $799. And the company offers free shipping and free 30-day returns.

 

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Credit: LifeSpan
LifeSpan TR1200-DT7

LifeSpan offers the most treadmill desk options, and the company says the TR1200-DT7 is its most popular treadmill desk. It’s meant for ‘heavy home or light business use’ of about six hours per day, said a phone sales rep. The desk’s height can be adjusted via push button from 40 to 53 inches. Desktop width is 38 or 48 inches wide; the latter option adds $50. The desktop is one-inch thick and comes in four colors. The default is Cool Gray. Other colors -- Absolute Acajou, Hardrock Maple or Wild Cherry --- add $100 to the cost. A console built into the desktop displays steps, distance traveled, calories burned, and walking time and syncs via Bluetooth to LifeSpan’s Active Trac mobile app. Speed: up to 4 mph.

 

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Credit: NordicTrack
LifeSpan TR1200-DT7

NordicTrack’s Treadmill Desk Platinum adds some features its lower-priced sibling lacks, including a more powerful motor capable of up to 8 mph — that’s sweaty workout territory, for sure. Both models are Bluetooth-enabled, so you can connect a smartphone or tablet to the iFit app for step tracking, creating customized training programs, and more. You can also adjust the treadmill’s incline by up to 10 percent, which is unusual for treadmill desks. (In fact, LifeSpan specifically says walking on an incline at a treadmill desk is a bad idea, ergonomically.) Worth noting: A NordicTrack customer service rep said there are few retailers where you can see the treadmill desks. And if you don’t like yours, you pay return shipping charges (about $200).

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Credit: Jarvis
Jarvis Treadmill Desk

Jarvis Treadmill Desk is for those who want to customize their set-up. You can choose between a rectangular or contoured desktop; a desktop size from 48 inches by 30 inches up to 78 inches by 30 inches; a desktop material of bamboo, laminate or powder coating; and 14 different desktop finishes. The desk is paired with a LifeSpan under-desk treadmill, either the TR1200-DT3 (included in the base price) or TR5000-DT3, for $500 more.

 

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Credit: LifeSpan
LifeSpan TR5000-DT7

LifeSpan’s TR5000-DT7 is like the lower-priced TR1200-DT7 but meant for heavy-duty commercial use of about 10 hours daily. The walking deck is 1-inch thick and the motor is 3.0 HP, making the treadmill "built to last," according to LifeSpan. By comparison, the TR1200-DT7 walking deck is ¾ of an inch and the motor is 2.25 HP. The treadmills on both models can be folded up for space savings.

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Credit: InMovement
InMovement Treadmill Desk

TreadmillReviews.net rates the InMovement Treadmill Desk as one of its three best-buy treadmill desks. The InMovement earned kudos for its safety features, workout feedback (a small built-in screen displays time elapsed, steps taken, miles walked and speed), and strong 3.0 CHP motor. The retail price is currently reduced from $4,500 to $2,799, making this a more reasonably priced (though still pricey) treadmill desk.

 

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Credit: Life Fitness
Life Fitness Treadmill Desk

At $4,500, Life Fitness’s Treadmill Desk is the most expensive model I’ve seen, though Steelcase’s Sit-to-Walkstation comes close at $4,745. Unlike most competitive models, this one has a row of ports at the back of the desk including 2 USB docks, 1 Ethernet port, and 3 AC power outlets. That’s convenient and may reduce cable clutter—but is it worth paying an extra $2,500, give or take? Plus, details and reviews are hard to find on this model, but you can learn more by downloading the product manual PDF.