I took all my meetings while using an under-desk treadmill — here’s what happened

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

Pre-pandemic (remember that?), I used to walk to and from the office — about three miles each way, which clocked up to around two hours of daily walking. I used to love that walking time — I’d listen to a podcast, drink my coffee, and prepare for my day, so when the pandemic hit, and my daily step count plummeted, it was one of the first things I missed.

Two years later, like millions of others, I’m still working from home, and despite adding a lockdown puppy to the mix and working as a fitness editor, I still spend a lot of my day sitting down behind a laptop. 

Therefore, when it came to testing the standing desk/ under-desk treadmill set up TikTok has made famous, I jumped at the chance (check out the best standing desks here). Would adding one of the best under-desk treadmills to my working day make me feel more energized by the time I hit that 4 pm slump? Or would my colleagues complain about that weird buzzing in the back of all our Zoom calls?

I laced up my walking shoes and gave it a go — read on to find out what happened. 

I added an under-desk treadmill to my work day — here’s what I learned 

I loved that I was able to walk a mile, burn 94 calories and take 2,304 steps — all while clearing my inbox

I didn’t expect to love walking and working as much as I did — I expected walking while staring at my laptop to feel a little like trying to read in car, ok, but after a while you feel a bit sick. Luckily, for me, there were no feelings of travel sickness and 20-minutes in, I loved that I’d been able to walk a mile, burn 94 calories, and take 2,304 steps, all while clearing my inbox.

I’d also raised my heart rate to 85 beats per minute, and worked hard enough to build up a light sweat. 

Of course, exercise is about far more than burning calories, but if you are walking for weight loss, here’s how it can help you get in shape. I’m not trying to lose weight, but I also know that walking for just 30-minutes a day can strengthen your heart, boost your immune system, and help you build muscle. 

My first observation — you do need a fair bit of space. I paired my walking treadmill with a standing desk, as I spend a lot of time typing on my laptop. If you’re someone who isn’t as glued to your computer, I imagine you could walk and talk using just your phone, but if you’re not, you’ll need a desk you can raise, and somewhere to store your treadmill when you’re not using it.

Most under-desk treadmills have wheels and can be stored upright, but it does involve a bit of maneuvering. 

a photo of the Apple Watch screen after a walking workout

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Secondly, typing and walking was a new skill I had to master. That said, I felt more productive as I walked, and I’d turn up the speed in 10-minute breaks between meetings to power walk, swinging my arms and extending my stride. I also alternated between sitting down, putting a chair the other side of my desk so I didn’t have to keep wheeling the treadmill around. 

My colleagues definitely noticed that I was walking during meetings both by my bobbing head on the camera and the whirring noise in the background

But how did my colleagues react? They definitely noticed that I was walking during meetings both by my bobbing head on the camera, and the whirring noise in the background. How annoying/distracting it was, I’ll never know, but after two years of working from home, anything goes, right? 

Of course, an under-desk treadmill isn’t going to cure your bad back or get you marathon fit as you work, but it does help you get some movement into your day. I suffer from sciatica and often find spending too long sitting down causes my back pain to flair up, so I appreciated the option to walk throughout the day while getting work done.

I also noticed I felt more energized — whether that was the novelty of walking while I worked, or the post-exercise endorphins, but if, like me, your working from home days are beginning to blend into one, a walking treadmill is definitely a fun way of mixing thing up, and getting fitter as you do so.  

Thinking of upgrading your home workout equipment? Here are the best treadmills for running indoors, as well as the best exercise bikes for upping your cardio from the comfort of your own home. And find out how how an exercise bike was a lifesaver after Tom Prichard's rowing machine broke.

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.