How do you spend most of your workday? If you have an office job, chances are you spend several hours a day sitting down. Not only does prolonged sitting come with many health risks, but also sporadic exercise breaks may not be sufficient to counteract the health impact of daily inactivity. Instead, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that regular, low-impact activity throughout the day – even something so simple as getting up and walking around or just idly “fidgeting” – can substantially reduce these health risks and burn more calories. While some individuals make a habit of staying in motion at intervals throughout their workday, others do not. Given the clear risks of extended daily sitting, the challenge is clear: How can we encourage physical activity throughout the day, rather than normalize a stationary lifestyle? One recent innovation in the past decade has taken an unconventional approach: Bringing exercise to the office, not in the form of scheduled classes or other structured activities, but by placing it right at your desk. The treadmill desk, like the NordicTrack desk treadmill or Life Fitness Treadmill Desk, is a type of standing desk that incorporates a treadmill, allowing individuals to walk at a pace of 1 to 2 mph while they work. What does this new workplace revolution look like firsthand? To find out, we provided two participants with a treadmill desk to use daily for 45 days, starting at 30 minutes of walking a day and increasing to 180 minutes. During the study, we recorded their self-reported perceptions of various health measures as well as fitness information from their Fitbit wristbands. Keep reading to see the short-term and long-term effects of this low-impact daily exercise.


Let’s face it: Not everyone is a morning person, and many of us struggle with getting up and comfortably settling into our daily routine. Contributing factors to morning moodiness can include poor sleep quality, as well as simply not looking forward to a day of work. While many of us opt for coffee or tea to wake ourselves up, the use of stimulants like caffeine can, in fact, lead to energy crashes later in the day or even insomnia at night.

Is there a healthier way to start the day on the right foot? Our findings suggest that the consistent use of a treadmill desk is associated with an improved mood in the morning. As our subjects recorded and rated their morning mood swings throughout the 45-day study, we found that the average of their scores showed a strong trend toward better moods over time. Even mild exercise boosts blood flow throughout the body, providing more oxygen to the brain and helping it work at its best – with potential benefits including a clearer head and improved cognition. Whether mornings are your thing, starting off with a low-impact exercise, such as walking, can help you ease into your day with a fresh outlook and positive mood.


Many of today’s most popular high-impact workouts can seem utterly exhausting – a burst of intense activity can help with long-term gains but leave you feeling drained in the meantime. It might seem counterintuitive to add in lengthy periods of exercise while at work, but this routine exercise can boost your energy levels throughout the day.

Regular exercise is known to affect the nervous system and reduce symptoms of fatigue, and low-impact exercise may accomplish this even more reliably than high-impact workouts. We found participants noted a steady improvement in their daily energy levels. By the end of the study, they reported higher energy levels not only in the morning but the afternoon and evening as well. If you find yourself struggling to stay energetic during the workday, this low-impact physical activity may be just what you need.


The quality of our sleep is one of the most important factors that affect our overall health. Not getting enough sleep – or enough sufficiently restful sleep – can impair your emotional regulation, attention, decision-making, and learning and is also known to be associated with chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and disruptions in appetite and metabolism.

Our physical activity levels are known to play a key role in the regulation of our sleep: Frequent exercise can help you fall asleep more easily, stay asleep throughout the night, and fight daytime drowsiness. In our study, we found definitive benefits to our participants’ sleep. From the beginning of the study to its conclusion, our subjects reported a drastic improvement overall in their nightly sleep quality. While they ranked their sleep quality around a 6 out of 10 before using their treadmill desks, at the end of the 45-day study period, they routinely reported their sleep quality to be a rough 9 out of 10. As we’ve seen, this improvement in sleep could be associated with positive changes in our subjects’ moods and energy levels as well.


The notion of getting work done while exercising may be difficult to contemplate at first, given that exercise is usually set apart as a discrete activity that demands our complete focus. How much can you do at work while working out at the same time? As it turns out, quite a bit. The experience of typing while on a treadmill may come with a brief adjustment period, but studies show treadmill desk usage is linked to better memory and the ability to focus.

Did our participants observe changes in their productivity during the study? We examined their productivity levels in the morning and afternoon, and found distinct patterns of activity. Participants showed a steady increase in productivity, especially in the mornings. Their gradual increase in productivity was likely linked to the noticeable improvements in their quality of sleep and enhanced energy levels over the course of the study.


Redesigning your workspace to center on your daily exercise can be a radical shift from the office chairs most of us are used to. We’ve seen the improvements by the numbers, but how did our treadmill desk users feel about this change after spending a month and a half walking while they worked? Not only did they record clear improvements on the metrics we measured, but they also stated it was, overall, a very positive experience.

Our participants reported daily exercise helped them pace themselves while at work, better regulated their stress levels, and improved their focus and attention. One participant reported losing 7 pounds over the course of the study, a potential benefit of frequent treadmill desk use. And while the prospect of starting the day with exercise may seem imposing to those who aren’t used to it, our participants reported that even on more difficult days, they ultimately felt better after a day of walking at their desks.


Two volunteers – one woman in her mid-20s, and one man in his early 30s – were monitored before, during, and after using a treadmill desk in their daily workspace. Baseline health information was measured before the experiment, including weight, BMI, resting heart rate, amount and quality of sleep, daily activity measured in steps, overall mood, energy levels, stress levels, and productivity. Treadmill use was initiated with a morning and afternoon session of 15 minutes, with 5 minutes added to each session, which added up to 90 minutes. Fitbit wristband data were recorded throughout the study to monitor heart rate, steps taken daily, and sleep quality.


Incorporating exercise into a daily routine continues to be a challenge for many of us, and it can be a struggle finding time to workout between the demands of work and everyday life.

Fortunately, the emergence of treadmill desks from leading treadmill brands, like NordicTrack and Life Fitness,  offers a simple solution for keeping yourself in motion during the day and avoiding the serious health risks of a long-term sedentary lifestyle. As we found in our study, daily low-impact exercise using a treadmill desk can help boost energy levels, improve mood, increase productivity, and promote more restful sleep. Can a daily walk improve your workplace experience? Find out for yourself – visit today, and start learning more about the different treadmill types, treadmill maintenance, and comparison of your top treadmill choices, for an everyday healthy lifestyle.


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