I tried the Egofit under-desk treadmill — it's a great way to walk to work
This compact under-desk treadmill can help you add a lot more steps to your workday.
Are you getting your steps in? That's an important question these days, with study after study extolling the mental and physical health benefits of walking. Of course, it's hard to log those steps when you're chained to a desk all day. Even if you're free to move around, there might be inclement weather, a paucity of paths or other potential obstacles. Solution? An under-desk treadmill, which lets you walk while you work. I recently tested the Egofit Walker Pro M1, which claims to be the smallest treadmill of its kind. That's a little tough to verify, as there are lots of similar products out there, but I can tell you what's good about it (a lot) and what's not (not much). Read on.
The M1 is designed exclusively for use with a standing desk, as it has no handrail to hold onto. (If you think you might want to jog on the treadmill or use it somewhere without a desk, consider the Egofit Walker Pro M1T, which comes with a folding handrail. It costs $80 more.)
The deck measures just over 34 inches long and 16 inches wide, meaning it's both short and narrow — but fine for walking, in my experience. You do need to mind your gait to make sure you stay centered; I'm about six feet tall and didn't have any troubles, though I did occasionally find myself clipping the front edge or rear roller.
You control the treadmill using a simple remote with four oversized rubber buttons: start, stop, speed increase and speed decrease. It's very easy to use, though I should note that when you stop the treadmill, it takes several seconds to come to a complete halt. There's no emergency-stop rip-cord, either.
I'm actually walking on the M1 as I type this (in my rather chilly basement) and had to peel off my sweater after just a few minutes. The treadmill sits at a permanent 5% incline, which doesn't sound like much but effectively means you're always walking uphill. That's a positive in one respect, as you'll definitely feel like you got a workout, but if you're hoping to keep it leisurely and walk for longer periods, it's a little tougher.
Because the speed increases or decreases only in half kilometer-per-hour increments, I can't get quite as granular as I'd like. Mostly I'm comfortable at the 2.5 or 3.0 setting; 3.5 or higher feels a little too fast to be able to work comfortably.
Indeed, the quicker you go, the more your body moves, and the harder it is to type, move a mouse and even just read text on the screen. What's more, faster speeds mean more noise. I don't have a decibel meter, but the company promises a noise level no louder than 65 db — roughly the equivalent of laughter. While walking at 3.0 speed, the M1 makes a low-level hum that I found fairly easy to ignore. Sometimes I wear noise-cancelling earbuds, which block nearly all the noise.
One important test: I attended a Zoom meeting while walking. I was concerned the noise would prove distracting to other attendees, to say nothing of the constant bobbing of my head. A few folks said they could hear a little motor noise coming from my end but didn't find it bothersome. (Mostly I kept my microphone muted anyway.) For my part, however, I had a harder time concentrating on the meeting, and ultimately paused the treadmill in favor of standing still.
Speaking of pausing, one problem with any under-desk treadmill is what happens when you want to sit down. Because, sure, I can walk for 20-30 minutes at a stretch, but sometimes I need a break.
The Egofit has wheels in front but no real handle at the back for lifting; you have to grasp the two side rails. Although it's pretty heavy (just under 50 pounds), I found I could pretty easily rotate and "parallel park" it under my desk (the excellent Flexispot Q8, if you're curious), then lower the workstation to a sitting position.
I did encounter one minor, unexpected issue: Because I'm not swinging my arms while I walk, my Apple Watch doesn't detect or record my steps. I have to start the activity manually, otherwise I won't get "credit" for it. I'm fairly certain it would be the same for other watches and wrist-based fitness trackers. That's not the treadmill's fault, just something I noticed.
With its compact design, simple operation and reasonably quiet motor, the Egofit M1 is a fine under-desk treadmill. The fixed incline may prove challenging at first, but if the goal is to get your heart rate up, this definitely does the trick. My only real complaint is with the speed settings; I wish the M1 offered finer control over them.