Anyone for another silly little walk? Covid saw us all walking with a vengeance, but our urge to up our step count stuck around and now walking pads are becoming a thing. Surely breathing becomes a challenge? No? Aisling Keenan asks the real questions
TikTok is positively AWASH with these walking pads and standing desks. I totally get the appeal – according to science, sitting really is the new smoking, so if you’ve got a sedentary job, standing or walking during your workday makes complete sense.
When it comes to walking pads, this brand seems to be the version of the moment. And standing desk-wise? This one is pulling in the best reviews. But in both cases, you’re looking at a €400-€500 outlay. Not cheap, especially if you’re skeptical like moi.
Walking pads are generally considered to be easy to use. They are designed to be lightweight and easy to move around, and most models can be set up in a matter of minutes. They are usually equipped with a non-slip surface, which provides a stable surface to walk on, and they are typically very quiet in operation, which means they can be used in an office or other shared space without disturbing others. Some walking pads may have additional features such as speed adjustments or incline settings.
Standing desks are basically just… desks. That you stand at. Adjustable, generally, you level it to suit your height. Simples. And yet, I’m already worrying about potential aches in my back, fallen arches and a dose of achilles tendon pain. Am I worrying needlessly about these things?
I spoke to Cassidy about her walking pad. She lives in Seattle and works as an assistant at a law firm, and works three days per week from her apartment, which she tells me straight away, is small. An important factor when you’re thinking of hoofing a treadmill up eleven flights of stairs and trying to store it after each work day.
“I wasn’t sure, and I’m easily led when it comes to sh*t I see on TikTok, and it sounded a bit strange to me to be trying to concentrate on Zoom calls and emails while also walking at a decent page but I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did,” she says.
“It was easy to set up, it’s really lightweight and easy to move around, so I can take it with me wherever I work. It’s like walking on a soft, cushioned surface, but it’s firm enough to support me.
“I used to get a lot of lower back pain from sitting all day, but that’s pretty much gone now. It’s also quiet, so I can use it on Zoom meetings and not have to be conscious of that. It’s a relatively small investment that has had big rewards for me,” she finishes.
I asked her the big question: Don’t you get out of breath?
“If I’m needing to talk on the call, I keep the pace really slow or turn it off and just stand. If it’s a call I’m just attending, I can easily keep walking without being too out of breath. Occasionally my face will go red, but I don’t think anyone notices. Or else they’re too polite to say!”
Michelle from Kildare works in marketing and bought a walking pad when the nights started getting dark late last year. “I didn’t feel safe walking by myself at night and that was the only time I could squeeze in exercise, so it seemed like a good way to get moving,” she says.
“I’ll be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s just a pad to walk on. I suppose I was expecting a bit more… I don’t know, magic?! Was I expecting to feel like a fitness model or something? Maybe I was, talk about putting pressure on a device! But I don’t really feel any different after using it. I mean it’s not like I’m going to be walking on this pad and suddenly have ripped abs or anything. It’s a good way to add a bit of activity to your workday, but don’t expect it to be a miracle worker,” she says.
Meanwhile, Pam from Dublin who works as an IT admin got a standing desk for her home office. She works a hybrid week, and says that a shoulder injury inspired her to buy a standing desk, on the advice of her physio.
“My posture has improved which definitely helped me get over my injury. I feel like I have more energy, particularly in the afternoon after lunch if I’m standing. I’m more productive. So far so good and nothing bad to say,” says Pam.
“Since we’ve been back in the office, I’ve noticed a lot more of these desks. Like myself, people invested in adjustable desks while working from home full time, and now with being back to hybrid working, they like to have this option available to them in the office too,” she says.
Clare, also from Dublin, runs her own business which operates mostly online. She told me she’d typically spend 10-12 hours a day at her desk, where previously she sat. She now has a standing desk, and I asked her… Pain? Sore feet? What are we dealing with here?
“I did notice my feet were a little tired the first week or two, but genuinely they settled down (or got used to the pain!). My lower back would normally hurt if I stood for hours but with a standing desk I actually had to correct my own posture, so it benefited me in that way,” she explains.
“What’s great is, if you do have a particularly lazy day or are just sore for whatever reason, you can lower your desk and pull in a chair. I really think it’s made me feel better, not worse, if I look at it from a net perspective,” Clare says.
Okay so I obviously desperately want one. Are the reviews convincing enough to make me cough up a few hundred quid? Not just yet. But a few more hours down a TikTok rabbit hole should sell me on it.