Inside TikTok's Obsession With Under-Desk Treadmills

We are always looking for ways to unlock a healthy lifestyle. Whether that be adding nutritious foods to your diet or exercising every weekend, maintaining proper health is important. Unfortunately, not all workplaces are conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Staring at digital screens, constantly filling up on caffeine, and sitting for long periods is harmful. Getting up for a bathroom break may not be enough.


According to a report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, long periods of sitting can lead to a higher mortality risk. We knew corporate work was killer, but this puts things into a new perspective. Studies show aggressive sitting leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and unhealthy diet styles. Under-desk treadmills became a popular tool to fight against issues sedentary habits can cause. The topic has over 2.3 billion views on TikTok, and with the science backing its benefits, you'll want to add one to your shopping list.

The major health benefits of using an under-desk treadmill

Baby steps make a difference. In fact, a study published by iMovR reported individuals burn five times more calories per hour walking at one mph compared to sitting or standing at a desk. That ratio jumps to almost ten times more calories burned when the speed of walking increases to two and a half mph. Transitioning to a treadmill workstation can boost employees' physical activity by 4500 steps per day, according to research in Occupational Health Science. That is almost two miles of walking, which is excellent for the heart, bones, and muscles.


The reasons for making the switch are more than just physical. A study in Computers in Human Behavior revealed a short-term advancement in memory and attention for those using desk treadmills. If there's an extra tedious task at work, walking and completing it can help you stay alert and focused. A job with higher satisfaction, less boredom, reduced stress, and increased energy is a dream job. And with the walking workstation, the dream comes true. A test in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology concluded workers who walked achieved those four benefits over their sitting coworkers. But how feasible is working on the move?

Is it productive to walk and work at the same time?

The primary purpose of a treadmill desk is to exercise while you work but is that type of multitasking possible? Typing while walking doesn't sound easy, and it's not. John Schuna, Ph.D., says at a pace of three mph, "you'd likely start to perspire; some people may even start to have more labored or heavy breathing" (via NPR). Gasping during the weekly report meeting might not fare well with your coworkers. Schuna, an assistant professor of exercise and sports science at Oregon State University, questions the productivity of this work-walk combination but recognizes it provides a better physical lifestyle than sedentary work.


However, practice might be all you need. Jamie Airmet, the art director for the fitness brand LifeSpan, says it won't take long to master walking while working. She tells Forbes, "Some skills like handwriting will be difficult at first. Typing will also have a learning curve. This will not last more than a week or so, and soon these tasks will become second nature again." If you can get those extra steps, increase short-term brain function, and build healthy lifestyle habits, why not?