When it comes to fitness and wellness trends, there’s always something new to try, whether it’s a new innovative workout class or a different diet. But recently, good old-fashioned walking has been resurrected as a low-impact alternative to general fitness. However, during the winter months here, it can be hard to find the motivation to bundle up and go for a walk outside, let alone trying to find the time to fit it into your busy schedule. That’s where the latest wellness trend, walking cushions, comes into play.
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Walking pads are also known as folding or under-the-table treadmills, but they are not quite the same as a regular treadmill. As the name suggests, these smaller options are primarily for walking rather than walking and running, and are often more affordable.
“They usually can’t drive at high speeds or on a slope,” Rachel MacPhersonCertified Strength and Conditional Specialist (CSCS), Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and writer at Garage Gym Reviews, says Best Life. “Many walking pads don’t have handles or rails because they’re designed to be placed under a standing desk. Instead, the pad usually has a screen that shows your step count and time, among other metrics.”
They are easy to move from one place to another if you buy one with wheel sandRebecca StewartSome are even more compact, explains CPT, a pain-free performance and mobility specialist.
“Some are foldable, and some are thin enough to store under a table or couch when not in use. This makes them great for home use to save space,” he says.
Walking pads really gained popularity at the height of the COVID pandemic when gyms were closed and we spent a lot more time indoors, and they’re great for those who still work from home. But even if you’re back in the office from nine to five, you can hop on the walking pad before the kids wake up in the morning or when you get home and catch up on Netflix.
“Using a walking platform is an incredibly effective way to get more active during the day, whether you’re working, watching TV, scrolling through your phone, reading a book, or any other pastime you can do while walking,” says MacPherson. . “Before I got a walking pad, it was difficult to get up my steps during the work day, and busy evenings with the family or children made it difficult to fit in enough steps. Since I’ve had a walking pad, I have no problems reaching the number of steps I want.”
As a bonus, if you feel like you’re less active when the temperature drops, this may be an ideal time to look at a walking pad.
“I personally have one for days when it’s really icy or especially snowy and I don’t want to walk outside,” Stewart says, adding that in addition to improving your physical health, extra steps can also boost your mental health.
He tells Best Life“Because the extra movement can improve your mood and productivity, they’re a great addition to your work routine if you’d normally sit at a desk all day. Many walking pad users notice increased mental clarity from the extra movement, often easily clocking in. 10,000 steps in the afternoon.”
MORE: Why walking just 3,867 steps a day is all you need, science says.
When it comes to using a walking pad, Rachel Lovitt, CPT, a certified mobility specialist, notes that you shouldn’t try to plan a “complex” walking workout because you’ll likely be doing a lot of things. Instead, he suggests setting a comfortable starting speed that you can increase over time. You can also enable intervals to alternate between slower and faster walking.
“I recommend starting at a comfortable pace for 30 to 60 minutes and building up from there,” says MacPherson. “Aim to add 1,000 to 2,000 extra steps per day until you reach your goal. Alternatively, you can track active minutes using a heart rate monitor. Aim for 150 active minutes per week.”
MacPherson claims there aren’t really much downsides to walking pads, which are “available and very easy to use,” but if you have balance issues, look for an option that comes with a handle or rail.
Stewart also notes that some walking pads have weight limits, and you should consider the length and width of the tread to make sure you can walk at your normal gait. Beyond that, you should think about sound levels (some walking pads can be loud), how heavy the walking pad is (if you’re going to move it often), what your budget looks like (some walking pads can run over $500), and whether you want to run at all (you’ll need a treadmill for that).
In general, experts conclude that walking pads are a great addition, but it’s still important to get outside when you can.
“I don’t recommend walking with a walking pad as a complete replacement for walking outside if possible,” warns Lovitt. “It’s very good for your mental health to take breaks from screens/work and get some fresh air.”
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