Do Your Employees Need a Treadmill Desk?

While some workers head for the gym during their lunch break, others are now working out in the office.

The treadmill desk, which features a desk on top of a treadmill, is becoming increasingly popular in offices across the country, according to manufacturers who say their sales of the innovative exercise machine are going through the roof.

“Back in 2006, I found myself sitting behind a desk, staring at a computer for the entire day for the first time in my professional career,” says Jerry Carr, the president of TreadDesk. Carr created the first treadmill-desk hybrid for himself, after becoming dissatisfied with the amount of work he was able to accomplish on a regular treadmill.

“I built a desk over the top of the treadmill; that very first day, I walked about 8 miles and never felt better,” says Carr. This year, TreadDesk has already sold 4,000 units, which cost $855 for the treadmill and between $1,200 and $1,400 for the desks.

Major Corporations Start Walking

As the trend gains in popularity, more manufacturers are entering the treadmill-desk market.

LifeSpan president Peter Schenk says his company has been selling treadmill desks for the past two years.

“Three years ago, we started seeing online reviews with people saying they had turned their treadmills into treadmill desks – that was a main part of our market research,” says Schenk.

Year-to-date, Schenk says LifeSpan’s sales of treadmill desks have increased well over 200%. He says buyers now include small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as major companies in corporate America.

“Really early on, it was the health-fitness professionals and bloggers already engaged in the fitness industry, but the health industry has gotten more mainstream,” says Schenk.

At Smooth Fitness, sales manager Mark McEvoy says his company is taking many pre-orders from Fortune 500 companies who believe that encouraging fitness in the office will mean less spending on health benefits.

“A dedication by the employer to its employees' health is a great loyalty builder and the treadmill desk is like giving them a "free" health club membership without the hassle of traveling to the club,” says McEvoy.

Is it Just a Fad?

While exercise fads come and go, these treadmill-desk sellers say they feel confident the exercise-desk concept will keep on rolling.

“It will continue to grow as the rate of obesity continues to grow,” says McEvoy.

At LifeSpan, Schenk feels less certain the current iteration of the treadmill desk will be around forever, but is sure the idea of “exercise while you work” has staying power.

“The macro trend of getting more active at the office will continue. Exactly what products we use to fill that trend can vary,” he says.

“But the treadmill desk will be around for a while,” he predicts.