5 things I wish I’d known before adding a walking treadmill to my office setup

a photo of a woman walking on an under-desk treadmill
(Image credit: Getty/martin-dm)

So you’re thinking of adding an under-desk treadmill to your home office. Good choice, and welcome to the walking-while-you-work club. But before installing one of the best under-desk treadmills in your home, here’s what I wish I’d known before adding one to my office set-up. 

Here’s what else I wish I’d known before installing a walking treadmill in my home.

They're literally for walking

If you’re a runner, like me, it’s worth noting that none of the walking treadmills designed to slot under your desk will be quick enough to run on. None of the treadmills on our best under-desk treadmill list can move faster than 4 miles per hour, which is around a 15-minute mile running pace; however, that should be quick enough for most people’s natural walking speed. 

If you’re looking for a treadmill to power walk, or jog on, you’ll probably want to invest in a treadmill built for running, like the best treadmills here. 

They work best with a standing desk

If you’re hoping to walk when you type, or join team meetings, you’ll need something to rest your laptop on. I found without the standing desk, I wasn’t really able to walk and work on the treadmill. A few of the best walking treadmills on the market come with a desk attachment, or there’s the option to buy a desk attachment or wall-mount, but if you have the space, I find investing in one of the best standing desks, especially those that allow you to lower the table top when you’re not standing. 

They take some adjusting to

On my first few days, I was trying to walk at a speed between 3 and 4 miles per hour, which would be the speed I’d walk if I was heading out for a hike. I soon realized it was difficult to walk at this speed and type or concentrate on my laptop, and I had to slow the treadmill down a little to be more comfortable. I personally preferred to use the treadmill’s remote to adjust the speed at which I was walking, and found the automatic modes on the treadmill I was using a little distracting. 

My mood improved

While I thought the walking treadmill would be a good way to increase my step count as I worked, but I soon found it had other benefits. I felt my mood was boosted in the mornings when I walked for a couple of hours, and while I didn’t notice any physical changes, and I’m not trying to lose weight, I definitely felt like it was far easier to close my rings on my Apple Watch 8 when using the treadmill. 

They’re not as easy to maneuver as you might think

Part of the appeal of a lot of the under-desk treadmills on the market is the option to stow them away when you’re not using them. Some of the treadmills, such as the WalkingPad A1 Pro and the WalkingPad C2 can even be folded in half and pushed under the bed or couch when you’re not walking. That said, most of the best walking treadmills weigh around 60-70 pounds, so they’re not the easiest to move around, especially on carpet. 

Of course, this isn’t the end of the world — they’re a hell of a lot lighter than most of the best exercise bikes or the best treadmills you can run on, but if you’re planning on wheeling the treadmill from room to room, it’s worth considering. 

Man walking on an under-desk treadmill at home

(Image credit: Getty/ Martin-dm)

My colleagues noticed the whirring

Even the quietest under-desk treadmills make a little noise when you’re walking on them. My colleagues definitely noticed I was walking in meetings, but the sound wasn’t enough to be overly distracting. That said, if you’re living in an apartment, or working in a shared office, the noise of the under-desk treadmill you buy is worth considering. 

I wished I’d gotten one sooner

After two years of working from home, like millions of others, I’m looking for ways to improve my new routine. I don’t miss commuting to the office five days a week, but I have found I move a lot less, and spend a lot more time stuffed away in my spare room, sitting down behind a laptop. Adding a walking desk to my home office allowed me to mix up my days at home.

As well as boosting my mood, I found walking on the treadmill made me concentrate more on my work. Clocking a few miles every morning gave me a sense of accomplishment, especially on rainy, dark mornings when I hadn’t been able to head out for a run before work. 

If you’re thinking of getting an under-desk treadmill, now is a good time to shop, as they’ll be plenty of treadmills dropping in the Black Friday deals. Walking while you work is a great way to add more movement to your day, without sacrificing your work — if your schedule often gets in the way of your designated workouts, an under-desk treadmill allows you to break up the hours spent sitting down.  

Looking for more inspiration? Here’s what 30-minutes of walking per day does to your body, how to lose weight and get in shape by walking, plus what happened when I took 10,000 steps a day for a month. Also check out how I did 20 pike push-ups every day for a week — and what happened. And you can try this six-move treadmill workout that builds strength in just 12 minutes.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.