Scientific Research on Standing Desk and Treadmill Desk Usage

January 1, 2023
Scientific Research Into Sitting Disease

There is an ever-growing mountain of research papers being published on the benefits on standing desks and treadmill desks. Following is just a small subset:

List of Scientific Studies on Standing Desks and Treadmill Desks

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of treadmill desks on energy expenditure, sitting time and cardiometabolic health in adults

BMC Public Health 21, 2082 (2021). Oye-Somefun, A., Azizi, Z., Ardern, C.I. et al.

Findings Summary: Pooled analysis of laboratory studies showed a significant increase in energy expenditure (105.23 kcal per hour, 95% confidence interval), as well as metabolic rate (5.0 mL/kg/min, 95%), among treadmill desk users compared to sitting conditions. No evidence of significant differences in blood pressure were found. In workplace studies, we observed a significant reduction in sitting time over a 24-h period (− 1.73 min per hour, 95%) among users of treadmill desks, compared to a conventional desk. However, there were no evidence of statistically significant changes in other metabolic outcomes.

Role of age and sex on dual tasking using a treadmill desk while performing cognitive tests

Gait & Posture, Volume 90, October 2021. Mallory R. Marshall, Sarah C. Duckworth, Madison R. Currie, Daphne Schmid, Rebecca R. Rogers

Findings Summary: Younger adults had faster reaction time compared to older adults for both Working Memory and Inhibition tests, and both males and females had slower reaction time for the Working Memory test when seated compared to walking.

01 Jul 2021. Arguello D, Thorndike AN, Cloutier G, Morton A, Castaneda-Sceppa C, John D

Findings Summary: Active-workstation interventions may cause short-term improvements in daily standing and stepping. Treadmill desk users engaged in fewer sedentary bouts, but sit-to-stand desks resulted in more frequent transitions to upright physical behaviors.

Study finds that treadmill desk use improves work performance

Eastern Connecticut State University (October 2022): Psychology Professor Jenna Scisco, Emma Meyers, Andrew Miceli, Jordyn Powell. Katelyn Kawabe

Findings Summary: Motivators for use included desires to be healthier and fitter, tracking and reaching goals like daily step counts, feeling good during and after use, and to overcome increased sedentary behavior due to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barriers to use included the type of work being done, physical limitations, accessibility issues, social concerns, and mental barriers such as boredom.

Walk your Way to Well-Being at Work: Impact of a Treadmill Workstation on Employee Occupational Health Outcomes

Occupational Health Science (May 2021): Gary W. Giumetti, Samantha A. O’Connor, Berlynn N. Weissner, Nathaniel R. Keegan, Richard S. Feinn & Carrie A. Bulger

Findings Summary: Results indicated that participants reported significantly higher levels of physical, cognitive, and emotional vigor and positive affect, and lower levels of negative affect and inattention on days when they used the treadmill workstation than on days when they worked at their desk as usual. However, we found no significant differences in job satisfaction, physical symptoms, nor self-perceived performance. We found that participants walked an average of 4500 more steps (~ 2 miles) on days when they used the treadmill workstation as compared to their desk as usual. These findings suggest that using a treadmill workstation may have beneficial effects on employee well-being and physical activity while not detracting from performance.

Effects of a Workplace Sit–Stand Desk Intervention on Health and Productivity

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021. Jiameng Ma, Dongmei Ma, Zhi Li, and Hyunshik Kim

Findings Summary: The results indicate that the intervention group significantly decreased their sitting time at work and had reduced neck and shoulder pain. There was a significant increase in subjective health, vitality in work-related engagement, and self-rated work performance over a four-week period. These findings indicate a significant difference between the two groups, demonstrating the effectiveness of a sit–stand desk in reducing sedentary behavior and improving workers’ health and productivity.

The impact of standing desks on cardiometabolic and vascular health

Vascular Medicine. 2021. Bodker A, Visotcky A, Gutterman D, Widlansky ME, Kulinski J

Findings Summary: A significant reduction in sedentary time during working hours was identified with utilization of a sit–stand desk and sustained over 24 weeks. Improvements in FMD, triglycerides, and insulin resistance provide insight into mechanisms of adverse health risks associated with sedentary behavior.

The Delayed Effect of Treadmill Desk Usage on Recall and Attention

Computers in Human Behavior 46 (May 2015): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.054. Labonté-LeMoyne, Élise, Radhika Santhanam, Pierre-Majorique Léger, François Courtemanche, Marc Fredette, and Sylvain Sénécal

Findings Summary: Behavioral, neurophysiological, and perceptual evidence showed that participants who walked had a short-term increase in memory and attention, indicating that the use of a treadmill desk has a delayed effect. These findings suggest that the treadmill desk, in addition to having health benefits for workers, can also be beneficial for businesses by enhancing workforce performance.

Evaluation of a Workplace Treadmill Desk Intervention: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 56, no. 12 (December 2014): 1266–76. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000336. Schuna, John M., Damon L. Swift, Chelsea A. Hendrick, Megan T. Duet, William D. Johnson, Corby K. Martin, Timothy S. Church, and Catrine Tudor-Locke

Findings summary: Compared with the control group, the intervention group increased daily steps (1622 steps/day; P = 0.013) and light physical activity (1.6 minutes/hour; P = 0.008), and decreased sedentary time (-3.6 minutes/hour; P = 0.047) during working hours. Conclusions – Shared-treadmill desks in the workplace can be effective at promoting favorable changes in light physical activity (specifically 40 to 99 steps/minute) and sedentary behavior among overweight/obese office workers.

A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace

Preventive Medicine (November 2014): Brittany T.MacEwen, Dany J.MacDonald, Jamie F.Burra

Findings Summary: Treadmill desks led to the greatest improvement in physiological outcomes including postprandial glucose, HDL cholesterol, and anthropometrics, while standing desk use was associated with few physiological changes. Standing and treadmill desks both showed mixed results for improving psychological well-being with little impact on work performance.

Workout at Work: Laboratory Test of Psychological and Performance Outcomes of Active Workstations

Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, October 27, 2014. doi:10.1037/a0038175. Sliter, Michael, and Zhenyu Yuan

Findings Summary: The results (n = 180) showed general support for the benefits of walking workstations, whereby participants in the walking condition had higher satisfaction and arousal and experienced less boredom and stress than those in the passive conditions. Cycling workstations, on the other hand, tended to relate to reduced satisfaction and performance when compared with other conditions.

Active Workstations to Fight Sedentary Behaviour

Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), May 20, 2014. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0202-x. Torbeyns, Tine, Stephen Bailey, Inge Bos, and Romain Meeusen

Findings Summary: The general findings were decreased sitting time, increased energy expenditure, a positive effect on several health markers, no detrimental effect on work performance, no acute effect on cognitive function and no straightforward findings concerning computer task performance.

Treadmill Workstations: The Effects of Walking While Working on Physical Activity and Work Performance

PLoS ONE 9, no. 2 (February 20, 2014): e88620. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088620. Ben-Ner, Avner, Darla J. Hamann, Gabriel Koepp, Chimnay U. Manohar, and James Levine

Findings Summary: As a result of the adoption of treadmill workstations, overall work performance, quality and quantity of performance, and interactions with coworkers improved and daily total physical activity increased.

Increasing Physician Activity with Treadmill Desks

Work (Reading, Mass.) 48, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 47–51. doi:10.3233/WOR-131708. Thompson, Warren G, Gabriel A Koepp, and James A Levine

Findings Summary: Daily physical activity increased while using the treadmill desk compared to not using the desk by 197 kcal per day. The difference in weight during the two 12 week periods was 1.85 kg. Percent body fat was 1.9% lower while using the treadmill desk.

Changing the Way We Work: Elevating Energy Expenditure with Workstation Alternatives

International Journal of Obesity (2005), November 28, 2013. doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.223. Tudor-Locke, C, J M Schuna Jr, L J Frensham, and M Proenca

Findings Summary: The treadmill and pedal desks (active workstation alternatives) offer the greatest promise in terms of energy expenditure. Active workstations (that is, treadmill desks and pedal desks) in particular represent a potential strategy for mitigating the diminished energy expenditure inherent to contemporary office-based workplaces, but only if they are scalable.

Taking a Stand – against Workplace Inactivity

News @ Northeastern. Accessed April 30, 2013. Collette, Matt

Research Summary: Focuses on “workplace wellness,” the idea that simple changes in work behaviors—like using a printer on the opposite side of the office or walking to a colleague’s office rather than sending an email—add up over the course of a day and produce significant health benefits.

Treadmill Desks: A 1-Year Prospective Trial

Obesity 21, no. 4 (April 1, 2013): 705–11. doi:10.1002/oby.20121. Koepp, Gabriel A., Chinmay U. Manohar, Shelly K. McCrady-Spitzer, Avner Ben-Ner, Darla J. Hamann, Carlisle F. Runge, and James A. Levine

Findings Summary: Weight loss for obese subjects was 2.3 ± 3.5 kg. Access to the treadmill desks was associated with increased daily physical activity compared to traditional chair-based desks; their deployment was not associated with altered performance. For the 36 participants, fat mass did not change significantly, however, those who lost weight lost 3.4 ± 5.4 kg of fat mass. Weight loss was greatest in people with obesity.

Effect of Walking Speed on Typing Performance Using an Active Workstation

Perceptual and Motor Skills 115, no. 1 (August 2012): 309–18. Funk, Rachel E, Megan L Taylor, Ceith C Creekmur, Christine M Ohlinger, Ronald H Cox, and William P Berg

Finding Summary: Results indicated that treadmill walking had a detrimental effect on typing performance, but that the walking speed of 2.25 km/hr. would result in better typing performance than the slower and faster speeds. Seated typing was better than typing while walking at 1.3 km/hr. and typing while walking at 3.2 km/hr. Typing performance while walking at 2.25 km/hr. was not different than seated typing performance. The results support the potential of treadmill walking at 2.25 km/hr. to provide low-intensity physical activity without compromising typing performance.

Treadmill Workstations: A Worksite Physical Activity Intervention in Overweight and Obese Office Workers

Journal of Physical Activity & Health 8, no. 8 (November 2011): 1034–43. John, Dinesh, Dixie L. Thompson, Hollie Raynor, Kenneth Bielak, Bob Rider, and David R. Bassett

Findings Summary: Using the treadmill workstation significantly reduced waist (by 5.5 cm) and hip circumference (by 4.8 cm), low-density lipoproteins (LDL) (by 16 mg·dL-1), and total cholesterol (by 15 mg·dL-1) during the study.

Productivity of Transcriptionists Using a Treadmill Desk

Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation 40, no. 4 (2011): 473–77. Thompson, Warren G., and James A. Levine

Findings Summary: The accuracy of transcription did not differ between sitting and walking transcriptions. The speed of transcription was 16% slower while walking than while sitting. The transcriptionists expended 100 calories per hour more when they transcribed while walking than when they transcribed while sitting. The treadmill desk offers a way to reduce sedentariness in the workplace and has potential to reduce employee obesity and health care costs. However, more than 4 hours of training will be necessary to prevent a significant drop in employee productivity.

The Effect of Active Workstation Use on Measures of Cognition, Attention, and Motor Skill

Journal of Physical Activity & Health 8, no. 1 (January 2011): 119–25. Ohlinger, Christina M, Thelma S Horn, William P Berg, and Ronald Howard Cox

Findings Summary: These results further support the potential of active workstations to increase physical activity in the workplace without compromising cognitive capabilities.

The Effects of Walking and Cycling Computer Workstations on Keyboard and Mouse Performance

Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 51, no. 6 (December 1, 2009): 831–44. doi:10.1177/0018720810362079. Straker, Leon, James Levine, and Amity Campbell

Findings Summary: Computer task performance was lower when walking and slightly lower when cycling, compared with chair sitting. Standing performance was not different from sitting performance. Mouse performance was more affected than typing performance. Performance decrements were equal for females and males and for touch typists and nontouch typists. Performance decrements maybe related to both biomechanical and cognitive processes. Active workstations may be less suitable for mouse-intensive work and susceptible users. Although active workstations may result in some decrement in performance, their ability to increase daily energy expenditure may make them a feasible solution for workplace inactivity.

Effect of Using a Treadmill Workstation on Performance of Simulated Office Work Tasks

Journal of Physical Activity & Health 6, no. 5 (September 2009): 617–24. John, Dinesh, David Bassett, Dixie Thompson, Jeffrey Fairbrother, and Debora Baldwin

Findings Summary: Compared with the seated condition, treadmill walking caused a 6% to 11% decrease in measures of fine motor skills and math problem solving, but did not affect selective attention and processing speed or reading comprehension.

Treadmill Workstations: An Obesity Intervention?

Doctoral Dissertations, August 1, 2009. John, Dinesh

Findings Summary: Additional energy expenditure from using a treadmill workstation may be sufficient to stop weight gain or even result in weight loss among overweight and obese office workers.

Feasibility of a Walking Workstation to Increase Daily Walking

British Journal of Sports Medicine 42, no. 3 (March 2008): 225–28; discussion 228. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2007.039479. Thompson, W G, R C Foster, D S Eide, and J A Levine

Findings Summary: Subjects increased the number of steps taken during the workday by 2000 steps per day. This was equivalent to an increase in caloric expenditure of 100 kcal/day. Subjects reported that they enjoyed using the workstation, that it could be used in the actual work arena and that, if available, they would use it. Walking workstations have the potential for promoting physical activity and facilitating weight loss. Several subjects in this study expended more than 200 extra calories daily using such a system.

Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease

Diabetes 56, no. 11 (September 7, 2007): 2655–67. doi:10.2337/db07-0882. Hamilton, M. T., D. G. Hamilton, and T. W. Zderic

Findings Summary: In summary, there is an emergence of inactivity physiology studies. These are beginning to raise a new concern with potentially major clinical and public health significance: the average nonexercising person may become even more metabolically unfit in the coming years if they sit too much, thereby limiting the normally high volume of intermittent nonexercise physical activity in everyday life. Thus, if the inactivity physiology paradigm is proven to be true, the dire concern for the future may rest with growing numbers of people unaware of the potential insidious dangers of sitting too much and who are not taking advantage of the benefits of maintaining nonexercise activity throughout much of the day.

The Energy Expenditure of Using a ‘walk-and-Work’ Desk for Office Workers with Obesity

British Journal of Sports Medicine 41, no. 9 (September 1, 2007): 558–61. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.032755. Levine, James A., and Jennifer M. Miller

Findings Summary: The mean energy expenditure while seated at work in an office chair was 72 (10) kcal/h, whereas the energy expenditure while walking and working at a self-selected velocity of 1.1 (0.4) mph was 191 (29) kcal/h. The mean increase in energy expenditure for walking-and-working over sitting was 119 (25) kcal/h. If sitting computer-time were replaced by walking-and-working, energy expenditure could increase by 100 kcal/h. Thus, if obese individuals were to replace time spent sitting at the computer with walking computer time by 2–3 h/day, and if other components of energy balance were constant, a weight loss of 20–30 kg/year could occur.

Walking on an Electric Treadmill While Performing VDT Office Work

SIGCHI Bull. 21, no. 1 (August 1989): 72–77. doi:10.1145/67880.67890. Edelson, N., and J. Danoffz

Findings Summary: We conclude that treadmill walking and routine word processing can be performed concurrently without a decrement in work performance, and that certain physiological and psychological benefits may result.

Join the Office Fitness Club!


A periodic newsletter featuring our latest product reviews (including standing desks, treadmill desks, desktop converters, ergonomic accessories, cable management, & more!), industry developments, and pro tips.

Expert tips and tricks we’ve accumulated from years of using and reviewing active workstation gear.

Flash sales & discounts sponsored by top office fitness brands.



Leave a response >