When most people think of treadmills, they think of the massive, bulky machines that you see in most commercial gyms, with a big set of guide handles, and a huge, whirring running deck.
But over the last few years, there’s been a quiet revolution in treadmill use. As we become more aware of the host of benefits that come from regular walking, and the amount of damage sitting around all day actually does to us, more people are taking walks than ever.
But for most of us, staying active and on the move is simply not possible.
Whether it’s the realities of having to work an office job, being older or having long term injuries, or simply the long term effects of the pandemic of 2020, outside walking might be outside the remit of a lot of us.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix that anyone can use. A walking pad treadmill.
What are the best walking pad treadmills in 2023
Best overall: Citysports Folding Motorised Treadmill
The best on our list, through its virtue of having great construction and a big, beefy 500W motor powering it all, this walking pad by Citysports is one we’re looked at in the past, and we still love it now.
The build quality is fantastic, with strong, solid construction and a commensurately high user weight of 100kg (220lbs.) The size of the walking deck is a solid 115 by 41cm, accommodating even bigger strides, and speeds run from 0.5 to 4mph, read; a slow, gentle stroll to a brisk, bracing stride.
In terms of size, it’s slightly bigger than the deck, at 147 by 59cm, with a total ground clearance of 15cm, which is easily small enough to slip under a bed or sofa. At 26kg, it’s not the lightest, but the transport wheels still make it relatively simple to move, and it can be stored standing if necessary.
The best thing about this walking pad though is the motor, which is a sleek and powerful 500W, pushing out a maximum of 3HP. For a walking treadmill, that’s seriously impressive.
Combining all of that with the relatively modest price, it’s easy to see why the Citysports walking pad is our number one pick. Versatile and variable, no matter what you’re looking for a walking pad for, this can serve your needs.
Best budget: BLBK flatbed treadmill
Light and small, this treadmill is incredibly convenient to store and comes with a lot of fantastic options you’re not getting on most other models, at a conveniently low price. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by a low powered motor, but if you’re only buying this for walking, that might not matter.
Compared to a lot of other treadmills we’ve seen, this one is comparatively tiny, at 118 by 50cm and 18kg. According to the manufacturers, it’s able to take user weights up to 130kg (285lbs) but we would not believe this. We’d be happier with a maximum weight of around 100kg (220lbs) instead.
The controls are lovely, with a wide and easy to read LCD screen that gives you all of your stats, and the option of remote control, letting you change speeds without getting off the treadmill.
Speeds are from 0.5mph to 4mph, as usual, but it’s held back by a 0.5HP motor that’s going to struggle at anything past half speed. If it wasn’t for that, this might have been our top pick. Instead, it’s a great budget model but won’t have enough grunt for serious speeds.
Best for stability: Arundo Walking Treadmill
While we might have mentioned that walking pads don’t generally have the support bars, we’ve included one in our list that has the option, just in case it’s something you’re looking for or you’d appreciate the extra safety and stability that it offers you.
With that in mind, this treadmill has a very basic support strut that can be attached to the treadmill as needed and also has a phone or tablet holder for devices.
Like a treadmill, it’s very decent, sitting at 130 by 59cm, and weighing in at 22kg. It can carry the expected 100kg (220lb) user weight but differentiates itself by its higher maximum running speed of 8mph, which is a decent jogging pace.
It’s got the motor to match, too, pushing through a decent 2HP. This is easily enough for a good walking pace, though in our opinion it might struggle at the top ends of the speed range, especially if you’re on the heavier end of the user limit.
But overall, there’s an awful lot to love here. For a pure walker, we’d still recommend our top pick, the Citysports, but if you need a variable running machine as well, then definitely consider this one.
Walking pad buyer’s guide
Like the sound of mini treadmills? Here’s our full guide to help you pick the right one.
What is a walking pad?
The answer is simple. A walking pad treadmill is a treadmill that has been specifically designed for walking.
This means it has a low maximum speed and a smaller total area on the running deck. But what makes it specifically a walking pad treadmill is the fact that there is no guide rail or additional support.
Top 5 Benefits of walking pads
- Anyone can use them – Because of the low maximum speed and ease of use, anyone who can walk can easily use a walking pad treadmill to keep themselves mobile and their health and fitness up.
- Storage: Walkpads fit almost anywhere – Walking pad treadmills have a small footprint and profile, meaning that they can be stored almost anywhere in the home when not in use, as well as being able to be used whether you live in cramped student digs or a palatial mansion.
- You can use them at work – Work-life balance is hard, and sitting down all day is not good for your body. A walking pad treadmill is an easy answer, switching any desk into a walking desk almost instantly. These machines don’t have sides and can slip under a standing desk to keep mobile at work and lose some extra calories.
- They’re incredibly quiet and unobtrusive – Most walking treadmills will have a working speed of around 30 to 40dB, which is around the level of a fan or air conditioner on low, so it won’t interfere with TV watching, conversation, or conference calls.
- Cheaper than full-scale treadmills – Smaller motors, fewer parts and less stress on the machine mean that you can pick up a good walking pad for very little money, making them an accessible fitness tool for almost everyone.
OK, so what are the negatives to walk pads?
These machines have their uses but they’re not suitable for everyone. What are the cons to picking up a walk pad?
- Don’t expect to get much of a run – Don’t let the product pictures fool you. The smaller form factor and the reduced power motor mean they’re not suitable for anyone in really good shape looking to jog or run.
- Lower user weight capacity – The average weight capacity for a walkpad is around the 110kg mark, depending on the product. While a lot of people will fall under that capacity, these machines are generally less robust and take far less weight than larger gym machines.
- Weaker motors – A decent running machine will have at least a 3HP motor but the walking pads have far less power, usually sub 1000w.
- Less padding on the belts – While they’ll have some form of padding, walk pads generally have less shock absorption than the full-size ones. That’s fine in most cases as there’s less impact as you won’t be running.
- Smaller walking surface –
- No inline setting – None of the pad-style machines I’ve seen has any kind of incline setting which is shame as when used on a regular machine, it makes for a much more realistic feel and can work off a lot more calories in less time.
Should I get a walk pad or a full-size treadmill?
Walking on a treadmill is nothing groundbreaking – go to any gym and you’ll see people of all ages and abilities using a £3000 treadmill to do some simple walking. What are the pros and cons of getting a full-size running machine vs one of these newer walking pads?
Walking pad FAQs
Still unsure if this kind of running machine is for you? Here are some quick-fire reader’s questions and answers. If you have anything that’s not answered on this page, email me (Tom) and I’ll get back to you. Or ask in the comments below. Thanks!
How fast can I go on a walking pad?
The upper-speed limit varies slightly between different brands but you can expect to go at a walking speed of up to 0.5km/h up to 6 – 7 km/h. The upper speed is likely going to be a brisk walk for most people. The average walking speed for people is around 5km/h and most walk pads will go a fair bit above that.
Can you put a walking treadmill on the carpet?
You can definitely put the walk pad on a carpet but the belt is quite close to ground level. It’s possible it could pick up some fluff from the carpet and build up over time. It might be better to find a hard floor in your home to do your running on. Another option is to get a treadmill mat to go under it though as this will make for a more padded surface and also protect your floor.
How do you use a walking pad?
Here are the steps to using one of these compact treadmills:
- Setup the pad where you’re planning to use it.
- Grab the hand remote and step onto the machine.
- Stand around midway in the centre of the track.
- Start the machine at the lowest speed and begin walking.
- Gradually increase speed to a comfortable walking pace.
- To stop using the machine, slow down gradually and then make sure it has fully stopped.
- Step off the machine to the side or back.
Can you run on a walk pad?
No. While the specs differ a great deal between these machines, with some offering a faster speed than others, if you’re buying one to use as a running machine, you’ll likely find it is not powerful enough to do this. These machines should be used for a good walking pace but nothing more than a light jog. anything more, pick up a decent treadmill.
How do you move them around?
There are wheels at the front of the treadmill which, when tipped upwards at an angle you can just wheel it around. They work on carpets and anyone should be able to move this machine around without too much trouble. You will have to bend to pick up one end of the treadmill to do this.
Can you go barefoot or wear your socks?
Yes, you can use this kind of machine without trainers on and they feel OK. The belts aren’t especially thick or padded so it feels more like walking on a floor with a thin carpet or mat. You’ll likely have a much comfier walk with some nice Skechers though.
Will I be able to keep my balance?
I think a lot of people see these treadmills without the sides and are understandably worried about whether they’re harder to use than the bigger gym style machines. There are three things I’d say if you like the look of these but are worried about your balance:
- Firstly, there are some in-between style machines that have raised sides that you can keep hold of while you get used to the treadmill’s motion. You can always lower these supports to the ground once you get used to the motion.
- They’re not as weird or difficult to walk on as you might think. Walk pads come with a hand-held remote control and the minimum speed they go at is such a slow pace that it’s easy to build up your walking pace gradually as you get used to it.
- You can move these machines around your home easily so putting them within reach of any kind of rail, wall, or table can give you something to keep hold of when practising walking, which helps get your balance.
Are walk pads safe for older users?
This kind of machine is a good choice for seniors who are not looking to run but need a reliable way to walk, regardless of the weather or conditions outdoors.
Adding extra walking to your day has such a huge range of benefits that, if you can do it, you probably should.
A walking pad treadmill like this gives you the option to fit in an hour or two, as and when you need, at your absolute convenience. If you work from home, or even if you don’t, if you want to burn some extra calories and keep your heart healthy, there is no better way.