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The TikTok girlies are right: You need a standing desk and treadmill

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Back in the spring of 2020, I was in denial about how long the pandemic would last and, subsequently, how long I’d be working from home. So I didn’t invest in a good home office setup, as I live in New York City and my home “office” is just a small corner of my tiny apartment.

Two and a half years later, I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve gone into the office for my job as Assistant Reviews Editor at Mashable. And I’ve been rocking the same crappy desk I bought hastily from Amazon back when office supplies were limited.

As a woman on the internet myself, my TikTok FYP is full of other women showing off aesthetic ways to be more productive. While I’m not going to be scammed into buying 100 different highlighters or organization trays, one trend did catch my attention: the standing desk and under-desk treadmill combo.

The handful of videos I saw about the WFH setup promised more energy and getting your daily steps in while you work. Even though I’ve been working from home for almost three years, I still sometimes struggle with energy, motivation, and focus. I mean, my bed and TV are right there. So, I tried out a standing desk and under-desk treadmill for a couple weeks to see if there’s some merit to the trend.

Being active while you work

A lot of us probably spend most of the day sitting, but I’m not trying to be dramatic when I say it’s horrible for our health. According to Yale Medicine, spending hours in a chair can cause vascular problems, lower back and spine issues, heart disease, obesity, and cancer — and can even shorten your lifespan. Our day jobs are really trying to kill us, huh? Mayo Clinic actually recommends a treadmill desk to get your body moving and avoid sitting all day.

I live on the fifth floor in a walk-up building, so truthfully, I don’t leave my apartment every day. Those stairs are killer. This definitely results in me feeling sluggish, especially on gloomy days. I really appreciated being able to move my legs and get some steps in without walking up and down five flights of stairs. I clocked more than 2,000 steps from about an hour of walking while I worked, which is not as many as I’d get from an hour-long walk outside, but I could only walk so fast while trying to read a computer screen.

On mornings when I felt like staying in bed until 10 a.m., I just pulled out the walking pad and it helped wake me up. I was concerned that the folding treadmill would be something that I used for two days, then it’d collect dust, but it was so easy to set up and use, I found myself regularly unfolding that bad boy. And it really has helped with my energy throughout the day.

Don’t judge my (lack of) cord management.
Credit: Miller Kern / Mashable

Can you actually work while walking on a treadmill?

The standing desk and treadmill combo is not without its flaws. I did have to keep the treadmill speed below 2 mph if I wanted to type or if I had to read a long block of text, which I often do as an editor. Otherwise, my body and eyes moved too much to read or write comfortably. So, I didn’t really get a workout in, but that’s not the point of this desk setup anyway.

An ideal time to walk on the treadmill is during meetings where you just have to attend, but don’t need to participate with your camera or microphone on. It sure beats just sitting there and listening to other people talk, especially during those long all-hands meetings that don’t quite pertain to you but you still have to show up.

My favorite time to use the treadmill ended up being during lunch. I would get my food, put a show on my monitor, and walk while I ate and watched TV. I was able to walk faster than I could while working, too. It was a really fun, mindless way to get some good steps in. And I felt the post-lunch slump less severely. 

Picking the right standing desk and treadmill

I’ve been using the Uplift V2 standing desk and the WalkingPad P1 folding treadmill, but there are plenty of other great options out there as well. What I loved about the Uplift desk is that it was super customizable. I got to pick the desktop style, size, frame color and style, types of grommets, and the type of keypad. Plus, each desk comes with some free accessories and the option to add on extras for a charge. The Uplift standing desk starts at $599, and depending on the configurations you choose, it can get pretty pricey, I’m not going to lie. But the desks are super nice and high-quality, so they’re worth the high price tag.

My desk has a keypad with four options for preset heights, so I was able to have one for my normal standing and another slightly taller one for when I pulled out the treadmill, which was super convenient. The desk itself is pretty heavy, and I needed a friend to help me carry all the boxes up to my apartment, but I was able to easily put it together by myself.

The cheapest standing desks start around $100 to $200, and the more features you add, the more expensive they get (duh). For that low-tier price, you’ll find basic desks with laminate desktops, no drawers or shelves, and no preset heights. Some of our favorite standing desk brands are Uplift Desk, Flexispot, and Vari.

If you love your current desk and don’t want to replace it, you can also get a standing desk converter, which are cheaper than buying a whole new desk, but still give you the range of motion to stand up when you want.

As for walking pads, there are also a couple different styles. The WalkingPad P1 I tested was a pretty simple style: not too bulky, and it folds in half to create a relatively low profile. It also has wheels on it to make it easier to move about and store. Even though it has a simple design, the WalkingPad P1 impressed me with its tech features. It has a connected app, so you can control speed, make workout plans, and see how far you’ve walked via your phone. The walking pad also comes with a remote control if you want a more analog experience.

There are also walking pads that have extendable frames that give them the more traditional treadmill look, and are probably better options for people who want to use their under-desk treadmill for actual workouts and runs. If you know you want to bite the bullet and get both a standing desk and under-desk treadmill at the same time, it’s also worth looking into brands that offer them as combos. And there are some nice space-saving options that have desktops built right in to the treadmills.

Under-desk treadmills can run (no pun intended) you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. The WalkingPad P1 falls in the lower to middle price range at $449, and I’ve had no issues with it.

All that to say, you’ve got options for creating your perfect TikTok girlie aesthetic home office.

This desk setup really made me feel like That Girl.
Credit: Miller Kern / Mashable

Are a standing desk and under-desk treadmill worth it?

Getting a standing desk and under-desk treadmill definitely isn’t a necessity, but it is a fun splurge. And I’d say if you have the money, go for it. I’ve loved having different options for how I moved or positioned my body throughout my workday at home. Especially living in a small apartment, it’s been so nice to feel like I have some range of motion. And I’m certainly taking comfort in knowing that I’m lessening my chances of dying from cancer or heart disease by not sitting all day anymore.

Using a standing desk and walking pad also actually improved my energy and helped me get through my morning tiredness and afternoon slumps.

So, yes, after using a standing desk and walking pad for a couple weeks, I would deem them worth it. And if you only have the budget for one of the two, the standing desk alone made a huge difference in my day. I can’t imagine going back to just sitting at a desk my entire workday.

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