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Walking pad vs. under-desk elliptical: Which is best for you?

Walking Pad ($499) vs. Cubii Move Under-Desk Elliptical ($198)

Walking Pad ($499) vs. Cubii Move Under-Desk Elliptical ($198)

Walking Pad/Cubii

As working from home continues to gain popularity, so does the trend of working out at home. When the Covid-19 pandemic closed down offices in 2020, it also shuttered gym doors, prompting people to get creative with their home office and home gym spaces. Nowadays, there are compact fitness machines designed to seamlessly integrate into a WFH setup and offer calorie-torching workouts while you work: most popularly, a walking pad and an under-desk elliptical. 

Back in December, Ana, our resident “needs to get 10,000 steps a day” editor, tested out the Walking Pad. After seeing people talk about the brand of folding treadmill on TikTok for months, she decided to see if it would fit into her active lifestyle.

In February, fellow editor Mariana tried out the Cubii Move under-desk elliptical. As someone who gets restless sitting for eight hours every day, she hoped the low-impact exercise would seamlessly fit into her day and tone up her leg muscles while typing away. 

Which home fitness unit is right for you? Here, our editors break down the benefits and pitfalls of each machine to point you in the right direction. 

What is the difference between an under-desk elliptical and a walking pad?

The difference between the two devices has a lot to do with how sedentary you want to be while using them. To use a walking pad, you’ll need to stand up and walk on it; it can be as slow as you want at just .5 MPH or up to 4 MPH. With an under-desk elliptical, you need to be sitting down to use it. Both can be used while you’re working under your desk, depending on how steady your hands are at typing while walking at 4 MPH.

A walking pad utilizes weight-bearing movements while the under-desk elliptical does not. An under-desk elliptical is designed to increase strength and mobility without putting stress on the joints, which makes it a solid choice for all ages and athletic abilities, as well as those with a limited range of motion. Most under-desk elliptical machines have multiple levels of resistance to choose from but are not intended to work up a major sweat. 

If you want to clock steps and burn calories during your workday, a walking pad may be your best bet. For those who want an unobtrusive way to incorporate low-impact movement into their days to increase overall strength and mobility, the under-desk elliptical is a good choice. 

What is an under-desk elliptical?

The Cubii Move under-desk elliptical fully assembled (and featuring a curious bunny for size reference).

The Cubii Move under-desk elliptical fully assembled (and featuring a curious bunny for size reference).

Mariana Best

Billed as “the world's first under-desk elliptical trainer,” Cubii’s Kickstarter-backed exercise unit employs a similar pedaling motion as a traditional elliptical machine but is intended to be used while seated. Designed to be quiet, portable, and ergonomic, the Cubii under-desk elliptical offers a seamless solution for a sedentary lifestyle via low-impact movements that can be mindlessly coursed throughout work and leisure hours. In other words, it’s a multitasker’s dream. 

How much room does an under-desk elliptical take up?

The Cubii Move that Mariana reviewed didn’t take up much space. Workspace is limited at home; her 275-square-foot studio layout only allows for a 25” x 25” desk. The portable (but not exactly “lightweight”) 17.6-pound Cubii Move fit perfectly underneath her small desk with its 21.7” x 19.7”  x 9.7” dimensions.

What is a walking pad?

When the Walking Pad is folded in half vs. what it looks like unfolded. 

When the Walking Pad is folded in half vs. what it looks like unfolded. 

Ana Suarez

A walking pad is just a folding treadmill by another name. While a walking pad can be considered a folding treadmill, a folding treadmill (and non-folding) cannot be called a walking pad. A walking pad is a walking machine that is controlled by your footsteps. There are sensors in the treadmill that allow you to maintain slow, medium, and fast speeds based on where you walk on the treadmill (the closer to the front you are, the faster you will walk).

How big is a walking pad?

The S1 model of the Walking Pad that Ana reviewed measures 56.8" L x 20.3" W x 4.9" H. When folded up it is 32" L x 20.3" W x 4.9" H. The treadmill weighs 55 pounds and can hold up to 220 pounds. 

Walking Pad Pros

Walking Pad treadmills do not take up much space when not in use. Other folding treadmills can take up twice the room, even when folded because they do not fold in half, they fold up. Meaning, the track (which is the longest part of the machine) that you walk on is fully intact when folded up. Whereas a Walking Pad treadmill literally folds in half (it has 180-degree folding).

Because of the walking pad's reduced speed and noise, it can be easily paired with a standing desk without causing a distraction while working (and is also great to plop down in front of the TV to mindlessly get steps in while enjoying a favorite show).

Cubii elliptical Pros

After a few months of continuous use, the Cubii still produces a barely audible whisper of noise whilst pedaling. Mariana was able to pedal during Zoom calls (although, on the highest setting, her shoulders visibly moved in the frame a bit) while completing her daily work tasks at her desk. If you’re worried about disrupting a noise-sensitive office neighbor, the Cubii is worth shelling out a few extra bucks for peace of mind.    

The Cubii Move’s approachability is one of its key draws: Mariana found it to be a positive addition to her routine as a relatively fit and active 28-year-old, but the machine is versatile for all ages. Seniors and those with a limited range of motion may find the accessibility of this starter elliptical beneficial. 

Everything you need for the best at-home workout