How Noisy is a Treadmill Desk?
Just how loud are these treadmill desks?
This is a very common question at SitLess.com’s Treadmill Desk Trialing Center in Bellevue, WA. Associates love to demonstrate the different units on the floor because people are always pleasantly surprised to see how quiet they really are. One of the key differences between walking treadmill bases and running treadmills is their lower noise signature, especially at the 1 to 2 mph speed range normally used while treadmill desking.
A proper walking treadmill noise level will barely be noticeable over the normal background noise of an office; typically ranging between 42 decibels (e.g. iMovR) and 57 decibels (Lifespan) when measured by the deck. That may not sound like much of a range, but keep in mind the decibel scale is logarithmic. At ear height the sound of the treadmill belt and motor is much less noticeable than the sound of the user’s feet striking the belt. So the loudest part of using a treadmill desk is the footfall.
To reduce the noise created by your feet, try switching up your footwear. Rubber-soled walking shoes will be far quieter than dress shoes, hiking boots or heels, naturally. In fact we always recommend keeping a clean pair of clean and comfortable walking shoes by your treadmill desk. If for no other reason than to minimize the amount of outside dirt getting in under the walking belt (attracted by static electricity), and lengthening the period of time between required lubrications.
Which treadmill desk base on the market today is the quietest?
The only treadmill on the market that is virtually silent is the iMovR ThermoTread GT, measuring in at 42.7 dB at a 2.0 mph speed. The three LifeSpan units – the compact TR800, the more popular TR1200, and the top-of-the-line TR5000 are the next quietest units we’ve tested in our labs. Of the three, the TR1200 is most serene, at 57 dB when running at 2.0 mph. The TR5000 is only 1 decibel higher, though many users find the continuously running fan on its AC inverter to be tiresome to listen to. The TR800 economy model uses a much thinner, single-ply belt compared to its brethren bases’ 2-ply belts, adding 2 dB to the TR1200’s noise signature.
Other treadmill bases tend to be louder, or to have weak frame structures that creak and squeak a fair bit; something we’ve never observed with the commercial grade iMovR and LifeSpan bases. The most outlandish example we can cite is the Woodway DeskMill, which measured 65 on the decibel meter at only 2.0 mph, despite the company’s reputation for making the quietest running treadmills in the world.
See our article on how to isolate noises from your walking workstation for some extra measures you can take to minimize the noise impact of treadmill desking to your neighboring workers. The two most important being frequent lubrication and adding a rubber equipment mat if your treadmill is not on a carpeted surface.