Live Science Verdict
The LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp is an easy way to stay active during your desk-dominated 9-5, providing a solid base and smooth belt for striding towards the often-cited goal of walking 10,000 steps each day. However, there are definitely cheaper ways to increase your activity levels.
It’s quiet in action
Easy to set up, use and store
Console looks like it’s from the 90s
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The LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp offers a simple and effective way to get on your feet during office hours. The machine allows you to stay active at your desk, increasing your daily step count as you answer emails, join meetings and more, earning it a place on our roundup of the best under desk treadmills.
A relatively new invention that is currently creeping into more offices and home working set-ups, under desk treadmills very much do what the name suggests. Designed to be used with a standing desk, you can slide the machine under your workstation and place it on a low speed. By doing this, you can assume a slow walk while you work, instead of sitting for hours at a time.
Dimensions: L 160 x W 72 x H 18 cm
Tread belt size: L 127 x W 51 cm
Max user weight: 159kg
Display: W 31 x D 8 x H 5 cm button controlled consoled with LED screen
Max incline: 0
Max decline: 0
Top speed: 4mph/6.4kph
Warranty: Lifetime for frame, three years for the motor and two years for the parts.
Workouts and other features: None
A 2014 study published in PLoS One, found that introducing these machines into offices “has a significantly favorable impact on both physical activity and work performance”. On average, people using under desk treadmills burned an additional 74 calories each day, and most reported increased self-rated performance.
Lifespan was one of the first brands to mass market under desk treadmills, with the TR1200 being the most affordable of its latest batch of releases. It has a quiet 2chp (continuous horsepower) motor that won’t distract you from your work day and six shock absorbers which we found provided a stable yet comfortable walking surface. At more than £1,000/$1,000USD, it doesn’t come cheap, but if you often find yourself tied to your desk and are looking for an easy way to increase your daily calorie burn, it represents an oven-ready solution.
It's not quite as robust as the model in our round-up of the best treadmills, but it's still a useful tool (if you've got the money.) Here's what we think of the machine, after putting it through its paces in our testing centre.
Set-up and usability: 4/5 stars
Setting up the TR1200-DT3 GlowUp is a simple process. The treadmill arrives whole, so all you have to do is plug the IEC power cord into the wall, attach the console to the treadmill via a DVI cable, then place the console on your desk so it can easily be reached as you work. Then, all that’s left to do is switch the machine on and you’re ready to go.
As a warning though, this machine is fairly heavy, so you'll need to work with someone else to move it around. We found it difficult to move from the delivery point to the testing room – even between two people – and the company makes a point of stating that it won't help move the machine once it's been delivered.
Design and display: 2.5/5 stars
The treadmill itself has a slim profile. At 63” long, 28” wide and 7” tall (160cm long, 72cm wide and 18cm tall), it’s able to fit around most home or office-based workstations, particularly given it’s designed so a large portion of the machine will be located under a desk.
In terms of aesthetics, there is nothing exceptionally sleek about the Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp. The cheaper, plastic finish of the side rails and motor casing doesn’t do justice to the machine’s premium price point. But the overall look is understated, in-keeping with the average office environment and allowing it to blend into most workplaces.
The console is bulky and (intentionally or otherwise) has a retro feel about it. Despite only having six buttons (on/start, enter/mode, stop/pause, speed up, speed down and Bluetooth) and a small LED display, it takes up a considerable 31cm wide space on your desk, so make sure your workstation is large enough to house it.
Features: 2/5 stars
If you’re a technology lover looking for bells and whistles galore, the Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp is not for you. As mentioned previously, the minimalist console (shown above) features just six buttons, giving you the option to start and stop the belt, and adjust the speed up to 4mph/6.4kph as you go.
This is all the functionality you need from an under desk treadmill, and allows the machine to fulfil its modus operandi: you can walk and work simultaneously, experiencing all the benefits of a treadmill workstation. The small LED display on the console displays your total activity time, number of steps, estimated calorie burn, distance covered, speed and weight (if you choose to input it), though you can only view one figure at a time, cycling through them using the mode button. There is also a safety key which you can clip on to your clothes then, if you fall or step off the treadmill, it will activate an emergency stop.
However, other more affordable models such as the Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 offer the likes of preset programs, remote controls and app connectivity, adding an extra element to your daily stroll.
Performance: 4/5 stars
Performance is where the LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp excels. The 2chp motor works quietly and efficiently, meaning you can feasibly take a work call without worrying about being drowned out by the mechanical whirring associated with some treadmills.
The belt moves smoothly with no juddering at any speed, so you don’t have to second guess your footsteps, and we found the 51cm width (more than 10cm more than many of its competitors) was roomy enough that we could walk without worrying about clipping the side rails with our feet. The six shock absorbers underneath the belt help provide a comfortable walking surface too, and after several hours of using it during the work day our knees continued to feel fresh.
With its simple set-up and slim profile, the Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp does all the basics well. However, surprisingly given its higher price, it does little to develop the under desk treadmill scene. The control console is clunky and the wires connecting it to the console hang somewhat messily from the back of our desk. There is no app connectivity or preset programs, with the in-built pedometer to track your steps being the only additional feature of note.
Value for money: 3/5 stars
If you’re considering buying the LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp, we recommend first thinking about how much you’ll be using the machine.
The four-figure price is too steep to be treated as a workplace experiment. However, if you have tried an under desk treadmill before and are committed to using the machine as part of your everyday work routine, the benefits begin to stack up and validate the cost. It's a sturdy machine, built to last, but it doesn't have more bells and whistles than much cheaper options like the Mobvoi home treadmill.
The Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp Treadmill does everything you would want from an under desk treadmill, and it does it very well. The belt moves smoothly and combines with six shock absorbers to provide a comfortable, judder-free walking surface offering speeds of 0.8-8.4kph. The 51cm wide belt is also spacious enough to accommodate most users, meaning we didn’t have to worry about stepping off the treadmill while focusing on our work. So, if you are looking to simply start moving more during your office day, it will definitely do the trick.
But, considering it costs £1,299/$999USD, we would expect more from this treadmill. The understated design is functional without standing out, and the console looks like it was built in the 90s. There are no preset programs, options for remote controls or app connectivity, as seen on other under desk treadmills, and only basic metrics are offered by way of feedback with no summary of your session available at the end of the day.
If this isn’t for you
If you are interested in an under desk treadmill but want something more affordable, we were thoroughly impressed by the Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0, which retails at just $379/ £274. Alternatively, if you are looking for a more premium model, the Lifespan TR5000 boasts a more powerful motor, aluminum motor and sleeker, updated console that might be more your speed.
How we tested
We tested all treadmills in our testing center and scored them from 1-5 across the following criteria:
- Set-up and usability
- Design and display
- Value for money
For all models, we tested the minimum and maximum speed controls and capability of any incline and decline. Where applicable, we also tested two different workout classes alongside any available metric tracking, and the apps and memberships that support them.
Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.
When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.
Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.