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I found a study comparing the health benefits of standing desks and treadmill desks [here]. The overall conclusion is that standing desks provide some benefit, but treadmill desks provide a lot. It's a high-level review, which is good, but it's a few years old.1

A bigger problem than the study's age: it apparently considers only studies of electric treadmills. Electric walking treadmills that can fit under a desk cost between £300 and £1000, and there's no chance of persuading work to buy me one. Manual treadmills are significantly cheaper (and they can also be folded away when not in use).

Is there a study, or even better a study of studies, that reports the effects of a manual treadmill desk on health?

  • You are aware that there is nothing magical about treadmill desks or standing desks, right? They are just an easy way to increase TDEE by being more physically active. – JustSnilloc Oct 14 at 15:59
  • Yeah of course. But there are behavioural aspects which aren't so obvious. E.g. a standing desk which uses an electric motor to raise and lower the desk gets more use than one that works manually, according to the article. I realise it's counterintuitive to treat your own body this way - a lot of people would just say 'do what you already know you need to do' - but anyone who says things like that is not factoring in how human behaviour actually works (no different to other animals). – Ne Mo Oct 14 at 16:06
  • @NeMo Can confirm the thing about manual vs electric. At work I have electric and manual at home. I constantly raise and lower the one at work, probably every 20 minutes, whereas at home I leave it at mid height with a very stool I can lean and and just don't touch the height. I will say this though...I would much rather be doing anything with my legs standing at the desk than standing. Sometimes I forget and end up standing for hours at a time. – DKNguyen Oct 15 at 23:16
  • Walking for long periods of time is easier on the knees than standing for long periods of time. I don't know what type of manual treadmill you are talking about but IME flat manual treadmills sucks. you need the upward curve at the front so that your body weight can pull you back down rather than you trying to push the belt back with no leverage. A tilt along the entire treadmill won't do it because the treadmill won't be so steep that it would not be workable. Maybe things have changed but this is what I've experienced. – DKNguyen Oct 15 at 23:19

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