Remote work has forced me to consider how I contort myself. I hunch over a desk. I recline on a couch. I lean against the kitchen counter and nod knowingly at the squirrels industriously napping in the bird feeder. I do these things knowing full well that they aren’t helping my back or my brain or my spine or my anxiety, which is why I also stroll on a walking pad I’ve installed beneath a standing desk. I stretch my legs. I’m happier for it.
Walking pads went viral on TikTok in January. A generation of lipsyncers simultaneously discovered a simple, space-saving solution to their unmet need for hamster wheels. Walking pads are slimmed-down treadmills that slide underneath standing desks and make it easy to move without pacing (or getting unshackled from the qwertyfied obligations of white-collar work). If I could cycle or row while cranking out emails, I would. I can’t. Instead, I walk.
My walking pad is the high-performing generic label of walking pads, a basic model from the nondescript Amazon brand UMAY. Essentially, it’s Kirkland shit; and I love it. The UMAY has changed my workday entirely. I gag on the words admitting it, but the TikTok creators were right.
UMAY’s walking pad’s weight makes it very stable to walk on, and the attached wheels mean it can be swiftly moved from place to place. I switch from sitting to standing and walking a few times a day and it never takes me more than 10-15 seconds to get it set up. It has a slim design but the belt is long enough for my full 5 foot 9-inch stride.
The catch, to the degree to which there is one, is that it’s noisy. A small remote control turns it on/off and adjusts the speed with impertinent “BEEPS” and the belt squeaks plaintively when I’m strolling. I’ve applied the provided belt oil, but it still sounds a bit like I’m domming the tin man. That said, I work with noise-canceling headphones so the only real problem is that I can’t use it while on phone calls, which I probably shouldn’t anyhow for reasons related to corporate optics.
Walking on a treadmill while simultaneously staring at a screen, and trying to work, takes some getting used to. It’s occasionally dizzying and a strain on the brain, but the jolt of energy and eased joint pain make the momentary disorientation worth it.
Walking pads are a new and imperfect product category. On Amazon, every product has mixed reviews. That said, even the not-so-perfect ones work wonders. Splitting up the afternoon with a two-hour walk not only boosts my productivity but rids me of fidgety energy that is otherwise channeled into meandering to my pantry. I’d purchase this pad again and definitely recommend others do the same.
What Is a Walking Pad?
A walking pad is a stripped down verison of a treadmill that can slide easily underneath a standing desk or tall countertop. Their slow speeds mean they aren’t for running or jogging but are great for casual walking while answering that 5th annyoing request from your petulant coworker or shopping online for other influencer-endorsed products.
Are Walking Pads Worth It?
If you get stir-crazy during the workday or your brain functions best when you’re moving it’s definitely worth it. The brain-body multitasking takes a bit to get used to, but once you do it’s extremely satisfying and has made my workdays go by much faster.
Couldn’t You Just Take a Walk Outside?
I mean, yeah. But that also requires stepping away from my computer for more than five minutes and we all know the internalized hustler’s guilt embroiled by capitalism wouldn’t allow that. Also, I like walks longer than around the block and this gives me that. Whatever, go enjoy your nature like a freed scrub.
What If You Fall and Hurt Yourself?
The slowest speed this thing goes is 1 mile per hour, which feels incredibly slow. If you’re uncoordinated or nervous about walking you can start at a glacial pace and stay there. I move at 2 miles per hour which works well for me, and I have yet to fall off and crack my skull. Fingers crossed.