Is a Treadmill Really Better Than a Treadmill?

The idea of ​​walking while working is not new; we first posted a “threadputer” on this site in 2006 . But the idea has made a comeback and is experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to smaller, cheaper models of treadmills called “walking yards.” So how is a treadmill different from a treadmill, and are they really a game changer for your work day or your fitness? Let’s dig.

What is a walking area?

The WalkingPad is actually the brand name for a folding treadmill, but “walking pad” has become a generic term for this general category of devices. Walking pads are usually smaller and less expensive than a treadmill. Many of them are foldable (some even fold in half) and are designed to be moved back and forth every day to wherever you store them, such as leaning against a wall or hidden under a sofa.

And TikTok girls love them. You can run an endless loop of young women saying, “So I saw these walking rugs on TikTok and decided to buy myself one…”

How do you use the walking area?

It’s really just a miniature treadmill, so you can use it however you want. Some people use them when they watch TV or do other things at home. But mostly you see them when working from home or even in the office, which look something like this:

The person has a walking platform and a standing table. At the start of the work day, they put on their running shoes and tie a fitness tracker to their ankle (because their hands will be on the keyboard during work). If your strap is not long enough, you can buy an ankle strap from the aftermarket.

Some people keep a mat under the table all day; others have a table that raises and lowers and swaps out a cushion for a chair when they’re ready to sit down. Those who use the mat often say that by the evening they can easily overcome 10,000 steps.

One thing that impressed me is that there are a lot of testimonials from people who use the walking mat all the time. Here’s one from TikTok from someone who’s been using them for nine months now; here’s one from Reddit where the promenade owner is still “very impressed” after three months of heavy use. The pad explosion is still fairly new, so we don’t have many long-term reviews. If you want something that will last you for years, it’s unclear if a cheap walking pillow will be durable enough for you.

What are the pros and cons of a treadmill?

The advantage of walking mats is also their disadvantage – they are generally small and cheap. Here is a summary of the factors to consider.

Do you want to walk fast, or even run on it?

Walking mats are designed for just that: walking. Most of them have a maximum speed equal to or less than normal walking speed. For example, one of the cheaper WalkingPad models has a top speed of 3.75 mph. The top speed of the Rebel 1000 is 2.0 mph. But if you shop carefully, you can find walking paths that go up to 7.5 miles per hour.

So how slow is it? Well, if you ask Google Maps to give you a walking route, it will assume that you are walking at about 3.0 miles per hour. This is a fairly average walking speed. However, when you are working, you may find it more comfortable to set your speed slightly lower, more like ambling than walking.

Even if you buy a last with a higher top speed, you may find that the length of the last becomes an issue when you go faster. Runners need longer treadmills than walkers because of their stride length. Some smaller models may be less comfortable for people with long legs, especially when walking fast, so keep this in mind when looking for what to buy.

And one more thing: some treadmills have handrails that can be raised during use or left on the ground. Higher speeds may require the handle to be in the up position, leading to complaints from people who find the handle does not fit under their standing desk. So check that out when you shop.

How much are you willing to spend?

People often turn to walking mats because they seem to be cheaper than treadmills. But it is not always the case.

Of the nine treadmills on the Runner’s World list, one model costs about $300, one costs about $700, and the rest are in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Many well-known brands will set you back $2,000 or more (Peloton’s Tread costs over $3,000). If you’re up for shopping at the used market, you can find one that has served as someone’s coat rack for years for as little as $100, but it’s a bit of a gamble.

Walking pads, sometimes sold as “foldable treadmills”, are often cheaper, but not always. Many of them seem to be in the $300 to $600 range, with some budget models available for less than $200 and trendy ones in the four figures. WalkingPad deals go up to $1099 and this comparison lists pads priced between $300 and $2199.

Will you move it every day?

Foldable storage seems convenient, but the downside is that you have to move it around and unfold it every time you want to use the rug. Some people have a desk large enough for walking and a chair side by side; others may place a folding chair on the walking deck when it is turned off. But most say they change the treadmill and chair throughout the day.

If your work day is structured enough so that, say, you do tasks in the morning that you can do while walking, and in the afternoon you would like to sit, this might work. But be honest with yourself. If you’ve ever had a standing desk, did you have to stand all day long, or did you set it to the “down” position and forget to lift it back up? If you have a bike at home, do you bring it in and use it a few times a week, or is it still languishing in the corner while you occasionally think, “Someday I’ll use it again”?

What is the quality of walking mats?

Walking mat reviews are everywhere. Many influencers who are enamored with them got them on Amazon, with some talking about missing remotes or trouble starting them. If you go down this path, make sure the return policy is good; people who purchased them through Amazon usually found that the company was willing to send them a replacement part or a brand new stroller cushion, although that means you still need to find a way to get rid of the broken one.

The underpowered engines on many of these recreational areas are also a potential problem. Especially if you’re a heavier person, or if you’ve run many miles on a treadmill, you need something strong enough that it won’t break with light wear. People with experience with treadmills agree that cheap walking mats are unlikely to last long, but this will certainly depend on the specific product you purchase and how well it is made.

Be sure to read all the specifications before purchasing. Many have a weight limit, and cheaper walking mats are less durable than a regular treadmill. Remember that if you use it every workday, you’ll probably get more miles on it than a marathon runner who trains for just an hour or two a day. So choose carefully.

So what should I get?

If you want something that lasts, get a real treadmill from a brand that has good long term reviews.

If you want to run, get a real treadmill.

If you need (and will actually use!) something that can be folded down for storage, a walking mat or foldable treadmill is the way to go.

If you want a real treadmill but your budget is tight, include treadmills in your search but keep in mind that you may be happier buying a used treadmill rather than a treadmill that doesn’t do everything a treadmill can do .

If you expect to be able to get the job done while walking (or if you’re really determined to use this thing while watching TV), go for it. Be the person who wears an ankle watch and works from home that you want to see in the world.

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