What’s the Deal with Walking Pads?
Looking at the differences between traditional treadmills and trendy walking pads
Most Canadian adults spend an alarming ten hours a day or more sitting, according to Statistics Canada. While it’s totally understandable, particularly during Canada’s frosty months when none of us want to leave our warm quarters, it’s a big problem since sedentary lifestyles put us at an increased risk of serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression. Incorporating physical activity into our everyday life is essential for our health, but let’s be real: We often can’t carve time out of our day for a fitness class. Conveniently, walking can be sufficient exercise.
A 2019 study showed taking just an 11-minute walk each day can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and various cancers. Setting more extensive goals pays off, too—walking for an hour reduces depression.
But, what do you do when you can’t squeeze in a walk or don’t find a stroll in your snowboots all that appealing? You look to indoor options, like treadmills and walking pads, which are currently trending.
What are walking pads, and how do they differ from treadmills?
Walking pads function in the same way as a treadmill—they plug into the wall and boast a rubber belt that allows you to take steps while staying in the same place. Unlike treadmills, walking pads are often foldable or have small wheels attached to the bottom so they can be rolled away or stored under a bed or couch. They pair well with standing desks due to their slender frame and that they often come without handrails (or with ones that can be folded down), making it easy to clock a few thousand steps while you work.
Traditional treadmills on the other hand are wider and sturdier and offer higher speeds and incline specifications, which enable you to run and sprint. They’re designed with handrails, take up more space than walking pads and are better for more intense workouts. They also typically have a steeper cost.
The biggest difference between a walking pad and a treadmill is that the majority of walking pads are built for lower speeds meaning you may not be able to run on all models.
Why are walking pads so trendy right now?
Walking pads have become the latest at-home fitness fad to trend on TikTok, with the hashtag #walkingpad boasting over 566 million views. The reason they’re all over the app is because they’re the hero product in another TikTok fitness fad called Cozy Cardio.
What’s “Cozy Cardio”?
Hope Zuckerbrow, the TikTok creator who came up with the trend, told Glamour that cozy cardio is her response to the toxic pressure today’s diet culture puts on exercise. “I started cozy cardio to help heal my relationship with exercise…[it’s] meant to bring joy back to movement.” The idea is that pairing small pleasures, like watching a reality TV show, with exercise can help you stay motivated and have a more consistent fitness routine.
According to Zuckerbrow, cozy cardio should include three elements:
- A walking pad to get steps in a gentle manner
- Mood lighting via candles to create a warm ambiance
- Comfort activities like watching a favourite TV show and sipping coffee to make working out more pleasurable
Where can I get a walking pad in Canada?
Here are three walking pads at different price points, available at Canadian retailers. (Note: Some walking pads have weight limitations, so be mindful of that when comparing models.)
For an affordable option, try this two-in-one treadmill and walking pad with handrails that fold down. This model goes up to speeds of 10km/hr, meaning you can run. It boasts a small LED screen that displays real-time data, monitoring your speed, time and distance.
Space Saving Motorised Treadmill Walking Machine with LCD Display, $250, homefitnesscode.com
This foldable, handrail-less walking pad is equipped with a quiet motor and is specifically designed to fit under stand-up desks. The speed ranges from 0.5 to 6 km/h, and it has two built-in rollers for easy movement and storage at home.
Kingsmith WalkingPad C2 Smart Folding Electric Treadmill/Walking Pad, $500, bestbuy.ca
Want a smart walking pad? This pick’s equipped with an app for customizing your workout goals, with settings like warm-ups or fat-burning. One noteworthy feature is its foot control speed—if you’re walking at the front of the belt the speed will automatically increase, but if you’re slowing down and are at the edge of the belt, it will switch to “cool down mode” and set itself to a more leisurely pace.
AL-T1 Folding Treadmill, $1,079, northernfitness.ca