Isolating Noise and Vibrations in Your Treadmill Desk Workstation
If you work around other people, they probably won’t notice your treadmill is even on, since a well-lubricated treadmill will only register around 50 decibels or less, about the same noise level as someone whispering. What they will notice is your footfall. When walking on a treadmill, every step you take generates vibrations throughout your body. If you’re typing on a desk at the same time, those vibrations also move from your body to your desk. That shaking can be distracting to those walking while working and the workers around them.
How to Isolate Vibrations
When you anchor your body to the desktop as you walk and type, you’ll be introducing oscillations into the desk frame, so be sure to tighten every bolt in the desk to the max without damaging the bolt threads. If you plan to use a fixed-height desk, you may want to use a metal strap to attach the desk to a wall to add extra rigidity or add a crossbar to strengthen the leg frame.
If you use a monitor stand to hold up your display, every little oscillation in the desk will be amplified by the monitor arm, especially if it is holding up a heavy monitor, so be sure to use only a rigid, high quality monitor stand like the Ergotron. Keyboard trays, while beneficial to the ergonomic profile of your wrists and helpful at staving off carpal tunnel, also act as levers that magnify these vibrations further.
If the vibration in the monitor becomes problematic, consider using an independent floor-standing mount or a wall mount for the monitor rather than having it mounted directly to the desk. Very few people are bothered by monitor vibrations at the lower end of the treadmill desk speed range. The human brain is good at factoring out gyrations when walking, so a certain amount of vibration is not even going to be noticeable to the person who is walking (though people standing still who are also looking at your monitor will notice it a lot more).
To date, the Omega Adjustable-Height Desk is the most effective way we’ve tested to reduce desk vibrations while typing at ergonomic wrist angles. Rather than mounting a keyboard tray underneath and away from the desk, the Omega’s keyboard platform is built directly into the tabletop, close to the base and the desk’s center of balance, providing overall better stability than mountable keyboard tray on the market.
How to Isolate Noise
One easy solution to prevent treadmill noise from resonating is to buy a few acoustic foam panels. Place them down by the treadmill base to absorb the sounds of your footsteps, belt friction, and motor noise. To muffle the beeps from the control buttons, which are bound to irritate your co-workers, tape some gauze over the speakers to dampen the sound. Some treadmills even have an Engineering Mode you can find out about in the operating manual that will allow you to disable the beeper.
If your treadmill isn’t well lubricated, it may make a lot more noise than it should, which is a clue that bigger problems lay ahead if you don’t do anything about it. Besides making more noise, a poorly lubricated treadmill can consume 10%-30% more electricity (see our article about Keeping Your Treadmill Desk Green) and cost you big repair bucks if the motor or controller burn out from too much sustained work load. We recommend the iMovR EasySpray Treadmill Lubricant to solve this issue.