Are Under-Desk Walking Pads Worth The Hype?

With an increase in work-from-home opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people now sit at home for long periods of time to work. Some people find it comfortable to be able to relax at home while working, but sitting for too long can actually be harmful. According to WebMD, some risks associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time are heart disease, increased likelihood of diabetes, weight gain, increased anxiety, and increased chance of getting cancer, among many others.

Because of this, the standing desk was introduced, and it quickly grew in popularity. This desk allows you to work while standing comfortably and is often adjustable to make it work at the height that is right for you and your needs. People who use standing desks usually do it to combat the risks of sitting for too long. They are able to provide benefits such as lowering the risk of obesity, lowering blood sugar levels, improving one's mood, lowering back pain, and more (via Healthline). Now, an extra effort has been added to the notion of getting in one's steps, even when working from home: using a walking pad, or a small treadmill, under your desk.

What is a walking pad?

A walking pad is essentially a treadmill, but it differs in some capacities. When they are created for use under a standing desk while working, they are made to be more modular and compact than a regular treadmill you'd see at the gym. According to Runner's World, these walking pads are often created with different features than those that traditional treadmills offer. For example, a walking pad likely won't have intensive running capabilities. In turn, this makes a walking pad less expensive. They focus on walking rather than running, so they usually come with an average range of .5 to 4 mph. However, some may go up to 12 mph, which may be a better purchase for those who want to walk faster. Still, they usually don't come with handles, so faster movement can be more challenging.

When opting for a walking pad, consider its other features and how it may coexist in your work environment. Keep in mind the controls, noise, energy savers, and safety features. Runner's World also suggests finding a walking pad that is lightweight, easy to move, and preferably even foldable for the time periods when you want to sit. Ultimately, walking pads offer the convenience of fitting into your workspace in a way that works best for you, but are they actually effective?

Reap many of its benefits

If you're looking to combat the risks of sitting for too long beyond a standing desk, consider the health benefits a walking pad may offer. According to LifeSpan Fitness, using a walking pad means more movement and exercise for your body. This helps boost your mood and reduce stress via the release of endorphins. Additionally, exercise also helps increase creativity and productivity. A study conducted by Stanford University showed that students performed better when asked to complete a task while walking comfortably on a treadmill versus when sitting. Another study by the University of Minnesota found that a group of employees improved work quality, mental performance, and time management on the days that they exercised. An under-desk walking pad also promotes a healthy weight, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, lowers blood pressure, and helps maintain strong bones.

Some personal testimonies also show that these walking pads help throughout the day. For example, Bustle's Rachel Krantz wrote about her personal experience using an under-desk treadmill. After reaping its many benefits, she tells Bustle, "I seriously can't go back to the old way of life now." After using it for a month, Krantz noticed some positive changes that stemmed from her under-desk treadmill. "When I started walking, it was like I moved from black-and-white to color. I was smiling and — weirdest of all — sometimes even looking forward to going into the office," Krantz added. She says that her back stopped hurting, it motivated her to get up early to exercise, she began noticing her abs emerging, it increased her energy, helped her tackle restlessness, and helped her be more "emotionally expansive." Ultimately, the biggest benefit of it all was that it made her feel good.