Are Treadmill Desks a Good Thing for Kids?

December 25, 2022
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students on treadmill desks

99.99% of treadmill desk photos you’re going to find on the internet, if they have people in them at all, will be depicting full-grown adults. Yet more and more parents and schools are acquiring treadmill desks specifically for their kids to use at home or in the classroom.

Let’s face it, kids hate sitting for endless hours as much as adults do, if not more so. You don’t have to be over 40 to feel the physical anguish of sitting too long without getting movement. The cool thing about treadmill desks, though, is that they create the opportunity to move, but without going into cardio heart rates and sweating. Slow walking at 1 to 2 mph actually increases focus and concentration by bringing more oxygen flow to the brain. (Note: it’s important that treadmill desk users don’t fall to the temptation of walking too fast lest most of that good oxygen start flowing to the muscles instead of the brain, degrading cognitive skills instead of boosting them).

It’s been well studied that walking of any kind kicks in our “caveman DNA,” tricking the brain into think we’re on the hunt. And when we’re on the hunt we focus more intently, and tend to tune out distractions like social media and email pings. So far any user, regardless of age, they quickly find that their productivity goes way up when waltzing slowly on a treadmill, whether they’re consuming content—like viewing online course material—or typing up reports. About the only thing that isn’t more productive when walking is any work that involves very fine mouse movements, like CAD or photo editing tasks. And even those could be performed relatively well while if you adopt a trackball in place of your mouse.

As with many things, there isn’t enough research being funded when it comes to pediatrics, and the use of treadmill desks are no exception. What we know at WorkWhileWalking is mostly from meeting parents and educators since 2013 that have been very early adopters, and hearing about how their kids adapted to studying while walking.

From our colleagues’ recollections most inquiries about treadmill desks for secondary school and college students fall into these four areas:

  • Our daughter spends a lot of time on her computer – whether a prolific writer or coder, or one of those amazing social media influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, a lot of teenagers these days do spent an incredible amount of their free time in front a computer screen. College students with ambitious class loads even more so.
  • We’re worried about our child’s weight and fitness condition – childhood obesity and diabetes is skyrocketing in first world countries, this is not news. Poor food options at school, too much video game time, or whatever other set of factors is impacting your child’s health, getting more movement not only burns calories but it leads to an improved mental outlook, which among other things tends to help people make better choices when they do reach for their next snack or meal.
  • My kid suffers from anxiety – even for kids who do already use exercise as a way to release stress and reduce their anxieties, their schedules are so packed nowadays that they often find themselves trapped indoors, such as when doing homework or when the weather is bad. Studying while walking slowly on a treadmill desk can really help reduce their anxiety level, just as it does for 911 dispatch operators that have to fight adrenaline bursts when taking “hot calls.”
  • We deal with kids who have ADD or ADHD – For kids (or for that matter, adults) who constantly struggle with distractions, a treadmill desk can be a real game changer. “Kids with focus issues, focus better while moving. his is especially useful for kids who rely on medications to help with school success. Later afternoon/early evening homework time can be especially challenging as focus medications have worn off, and walking can help.”, according to Dr. Doreen Kiss, Pediatrician.

Getting a treadmill desk for a kid to use at home is as straightforward as it is for any adult. See our primer on What to Expect When You’re Expecting Your First Treadmill Desk for complete guidance and our comprehensive round-up of Treadmill Desk Reviews when you’re ready to shop for gear. For classroom settings there are more factors to consider, especially noise, footprint and liability. While there are a lot of options when it comes to office treadmills, for the schoolroom application—as in the emergency dispatch center application—the iMovR ThermoTread GT is our top pick for getting past these three key hurdles. You’ll find these sprinkled all around college campuses these days, from the library and other public study spaces to the offices of professors and administrators.

Still have questions about how to best configure a treadmill desk workstation for your home, office or classroom? Ping us in Live Chat in the bottom right corner of your screen and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

If you want to make sure a treadmill will work for you, you should read our article on guidance to see how you can test one out for yourself.

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