Find out if it matters how fast you walk when using a treadmill desk.

The treadmill desk, in which you walk while using a computer, is the solution to the hazards of sitting all day at the job.

More and more studies are surfacing showing the connection between excessive sitting and increased risks of, for instance, heart disease and mortality (Wilmot et al, Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester).


Now that you agree that a treadmill desk would solve the problems that prolonged sitting causes (including postural), the next question becomes: How fast should you walk with a treadmill desk setup?

How fast you should walk depends on your goals and your fitness level. How fast you should walk also depends on the nature of your desk work.

For instance, during heavy typing, you won’t be able to walk as fast as during reading.

This has nothing to do with fitness; it’s a matter of distraction from the movement  —  at least it is for me.

Then again, I haven’t had my unit long enough to determine if I’ll one day be typing hundreds of words like a demon while walking 3 mph.

Weight Loss

If you use a treadmill desk enough, your daily calories burned will increase. There is no question whatsoever about this. You can easily accumulate several miles a day (depending on speed).

Though your walking speed will be slow, it’s the accumulated mileage that will result in many extra calories burned over time.

Compare miles of very slow walking to endless hours of sitting like a mummy at a computer.

You’ll lose weight unless you eat more to balance the changed equation. But how fast should you walk, regardless of your goals (e.g., weight loss, improved posture, lower blood pressure, lower mortality risk)?

First get used to the contraption. It does feel awkward at first. Find your natural pace, as it applies to the type of work at hand (heavy typing, light typing, a lot of mouse clicking, scrolling and reading).

If you feel that you can walk faster and still maintain concentration, then slightly increase the speed. If it feels really weird, slow the speed.

To get an aerobic workout without the distraction of quick stepping, go very slowly but use an incline if the machine offers this feature. A 1.5 mph walk at 15 percent incline will exercise the heart.

While you’re waiting for a slow page to load, increase the speed for a brisk walk or slow jog, even if it’s for 10 seconds.

A bunch of these 10-second spurts throughout the workday will add up over time.

If your feet begin feeling uncomfortable, take a break and/or try a different pair of athletic footwear.

Don’t overdo it. Don’t assume you can walk for hours on a treadmill desk the first time you try it just because the speed is super slow.

No matter how fast you can sprint across a basketball court or how much weight you can squat at the gym, this doesn’t mean your feet can handle prolonged slow walking without prior conditioning for this. Listen to your body when it comes to using a treadmill desk, and walk as fast as you feel comfortable.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.