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The adage “walk before you run” implies that, eventually, everyone desires a faster pace. In the case of walking pads, a leisurely stroll whilst answering emails or checking off to-do’s is plenty, and saves space and budget compared to bulky, full-size treadmills.
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Walking pads, many of which max out around 5 miles per hour, are slimmer and cheaper than their larger cardio counterparts. And while the search for cheap walking pads will yield plenty of reliable machines, the market has become flooded with sub-par dupes ever since a TikTok-fueled spike in popularity in late 2022.
Walking pads have become a marker of maximization, an increasingly common presence in work-from-home-ers’ abodes who want to avoid the sedentary lifestyle that can come with not having a commute. Premium walking pads can come at a steep price, well over a thousand bucks. On the other end of the spectrum are models that are almost suspiciously cheap, some available for less than $100. In the middle, a class of acceptably cheap walking pads will set you back between $200 and $500.
This is the sweet spot. They’re budget-friendly but likely aren’t going to crumble after the third hour of continuous use. They’ve got minimal features but can mostly be ignored while they’re being used. The goal is passive stepping, not a highly interactive interface.
What the Experts Say
Sources within the medical field and fitness industry say walking pads can be an effective way to lead a more active lifestyle. For this story, SPY spoke to Ashley Castleberry, an NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritionist; Rosmy Barrios, MD, a medical advisor for The Health Reporter; and other walking pad enthusiasts who swear by their specific machines for adding movement to their workdays.
“I highly recommend walking pads as a way to integrate physical activity into daily life,” Castleberry says. “With the convenience of a foldable treadmill, individuals can incorporate exercise into their daily routines, regardless of weather or limited space. This leads to improved physical health, mental well-being, and productivity.”
Castleberry continues on to call walking pads “an accessible way to get movement in,” a sentiment that Barrios agrees with. “We don’t always have the chance to get out in nature or hit the gym, especially when faced with cold weather, limited daylight, or a packed schedule. Having a walking pad offers the convenience of staying active even while working at the computer, especially if you work from home.”
Barrios says that size is a crucial consideration in terms of both how much space it will take up in your home and whether it’s large enough (particularly wide enough) to walk on comfortably. Noise, particularly for those seeking to walk during work calls, and control style, whether an onboard panel or remote control, are other factors she would consider in the context of personal preferences when shopping for a walking pad.
Sperax Walking Pad
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Entrepreneur Amy Smith says that her Sperax walking pad is “sturdy, affordable, and fits right under my work desk.” That sturdiness is owed to its 16.54-inch-wide walking platform, ample 320-pound capacity, and the four-layer walking platform. The LED display is simple but big enough to see while walking, and the four-button remote makes it very easy to operate.
The Sperax does many things right: it arrives assembled and equipped with wheels to roll it under furniture when not in use. Its motor is also quiet enough to not disturb a spouse working in the next room. All of these features place the Sperax at the upper end of the market while its sub-$200 price tag lags delightfully behind the average.
BEST FOR JOGGING
Urevo Under Desk Treadmill
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Made For: Those who want to mix a jog in with their walks. The Urevo reaches a top speed of four miles per hour, the rate of a relaxed jog. It’s not a speed for a Zoom meeting, but a quick jog during the lunch hour can spark a great boost in energy for the rest of the workday.
Coolest Feature: Paralegal Rick Chahal loves that the Urevo is portable and has a “compact design that fits perfectly under my desk for quick and easy storage.” That extends to the included remote control, which is cleverly stored with a magnet on the side of the machine.
BEST CHEAPER WALKING PAD
Why It Stands Out: It’s a less expensive option from the brand that defines the category. Experts sang the praises of other WalkingPad models, with personal trainer Caroline Grainger calling the brand “the gold standard” in the industry.
Coolest Feature: This model is not designed for vertical storage but the C1 still folds in half, so it takes up a relatively tiny footprint when stored under a bed or couch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Walking Pads
What’s the difference between a walking pad and a treadmill?
A walking pad is smaller, slower, and cheaper than a standard treadmill. They typically come with no vertical storage element or one that’s less sturdy than a larger machine. They fit easily underneath a standing desk and operate more quietly as well.
Are there cheaper walking pads that are worth buying?
You get what you pay for with most products. The closer you get to the bottom of the barrel, the higher the likelihood that the quality is going to be sub-par. We recommend sticking to the price range we outlined above and consulting with experts in the field before making a purchase.
Will my coworkers notice I’m working on my work calls?
Walk slowly with a tight camera angle and they probably won’t, but don’t be afraid to become the walking pad guy to your colleagues—it’s way better than being the guy who microwaves fish for lunch or the guy who goes just a bit too hard at company happy hours.
Is it unprofessional to walk during work zoom calls?
This is really a question for your employer, we’re not the ones signing your paycheck.
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