Can You Make a Treadmill Desk for $250?

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Yes. You can. Here’s how I did it:

1. Find one on Kijiji. 

The one I got was a Free Spirit 302001, about 7-8 years old. Free Spirit is a good company for value treadmills without a lot of frills, and some other ones to keep in mind are True, Life Fitness, Pace Master, and Lifespan. I saw some Nordictrack treadmills in the $300 price range and most were willing to part with it for $250, but I’ve heard mixed reviews on their quality. I got mine for $180.

I ended up using angle brackets at the base for stability. Miraculously, it was level!

I ended up using angle brackets at the base for stability. Miraculously, it was level!

2. Buy wood & hardware. 

I bought:

-one 2 X 12 (for main support of monitor) : $20

-two 1 X 6s (for keyboard mount and platforms) : $10

-8 feet of corner trim (for the adjustable keyboard slots) : $10

-screws and nails: $5

-4 metal angle brackets: $12

-particle board for keyboard tray: $5

In total, I spent about $250. Assuming you have access to drills and saws, the rest is just putting in the time.

3. Construction.

I built the monitor holder first, and decided to make it slightly shorter, since I could always pile up a few books to raise the monitor height but I’d have a hard time bringing it down. The height for my treadmill was 1.5 m. The width was 0.75 m. IMG_20130320_235407

The basic idea was a shelf with some support in the middle–you might have to modify depending on the shape of your treadmill.

For the keyboard tray, I drilled 2 holes into each arm of the treadmill, and bolted my pre-assembled 1X6s to the sides. Using that slightly-expensive corner trim (with small nails to avoid splitting) enabled me to make a keyboard tray suitable for a variety of heights!

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It took a few nights and part of a weekend to finish, but now I write this post on my treadmill desk! So far I’ve only been able to go about 2.25 kph (1.5 mph) before I get too distracted by the movement to do anything productive. Hopefully that’ll get better in time.

Fun Facts about Treadmill Desks

Apparently people are 16% less productive (typing speed and accuracy) on treadmill desks, but that doesn’t necessarily take into account the increased levels of energy. Google, Microsoft and Evernote are some companies that are already using them in the workplace, although more in common areas that employees can use for a while before going back to their regular workstations. Apparently when employees were offered bikes as an alternative to desk chairs, only 19% kept using them after four weeks. We’ll see how I fare.



This week’s “What-if” post was a bit closer to reality than normal, but next week I should be up to my regular hijinks.

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2 Comments on “Can You Make a Treadmill Desk for $250?

  1. That’s awesome! I’ve seen people talking about treadmill / stand-up desks before on Lifehacker but never seen someone actually talk about building their own. Are you planning on wearing a HR monitor? I’d be curious to see how your HR varies as time goes on.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by, John! I wasn’t planning on doing any HR monitoring but that could be pretty interesting. I’ll see if I can arrange that 🙂

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