Treadmills are right up there on the list when it comes to the best equipment for cardio fitness. They are typically very versatile pieces of equipment, being capable of use both in the home and the gym. The benefits of having a treadmill also far outweigh having to run outdoors. Treadmills are safe. Cushioned, and clean compared to the real thing.
You probably know all this. Treadmills have a slew of benefits, period. However, knowing this doesn’t mean it’s easy to get the right treadmill. As any ardent cardio fan knows, this can be quite a challenge. There are too many models to choose from, each with great features and a lot of options to consider. We decided to make the process easier for you by putting together this extensive guide so that you can find the best treadmills on the market today. We want to bring you treadmills that go well with you lifestyle, your fitness goals, and, most importantly, your budget. But before we start, let’s get to know a little more about treadmills.
10 Best Treadmills
This treadmill happens to be one of the most popular treadmills in its price range, with some great features that make it a great option for the average walker or jogger.
The Sole F80 track measures 60 inches long by 22 inches wide, making it ideal for both walkers and runners, no matter what their height. It also features a foldable design, making it portable and easy to store. You should note, however, that only the home models are foldable. Commercial grade models, such as the TT8, are non-foldable.
The Sole F80 also features 2.5-inch rollers and a decent motor with 3.5 CHP. You’ll love the fact that it comes with a mobile app, which can easily be used with other fitness apps such as the FitBit.
The cushioning on the track is pretty decent, using proprietary CushionFlex Whisper Deck Technology. You’ll also like the LCD monitor that allows you to measure the basics, such as miles travelled, average speed and so on.
- Great motor with 3.5 CHP
- Large track is suitable for walkers, as well as runners
- Comes with a mobile app
- Speed changing mechanism can be rather slow
NordicTrack T 6.5 S
This treadmill is among the more budget-friendly ones on this list. It also happens to have great features.
The NordicTrack t 6.5 S has a 2.6 CHP motor, which is above the acceptable lower end, giving it decent power for walkers and moderate joggers. Runners might not be able to use it much though. As if to reinforce this, the track itself measures 55 inches long by 20 inches wide, making it even less ideal for runners. It does come with some pretty cool preset workout programs, however. There are 20 of them, ensuring you’ll never get bored with your workout routine. The incline can be adjusted to a maximum of 10%, and the sound system can easily be hooked up to your iPod or MP3 player. The treadmill also comes with a 25-year warranty on the motor and a 1-year warranty on the parts and electronics.
- iFit compatible, meaning you can download extra workout programs and integrate Google Maps into your workout.
- Has an adjustable incline with 10% maximum gradient
- Relatively small, doesn’t take up too much space
- It has a rather small track
- It may break down a couple of months in
Weslo Cadence G 5.9
The Weslo Cadence combines great affordability with all the basic features that anyone who does light treadmill exercises might want on their treadmill. We think it would be perfect for someone who doesn’t exercise too frequently.
The list of features isn’t too long. It is, however, good. The treadmill is foldable and has a 2-position incline. You’ll have to adjust the incline manually, though. It also features 6 preset workout programs and a contact heart rate monitor.
- Heart rate monitor
- Foldable Design
- Very limited features
The Nautilus T614 has some pretty neat features as a result. It also happens to be a pretty good bargain.
The Nautilus has a relatively small track, at 55 inches long and 20 inches wide. However, it more than makes up for this with a slew of other features. The motor has a modest 2.75 CHP and the rollers are 2.5 inches wide. However, you won’t notice any of this as you’ll be too engrossed the extra-large, high resolution LCD monitor and the 22 preset workout programs. The acoustic chambered speakers also offer some of the best sound quality you’ll ever get on a treadmill.
The track itself has a max speed of 12 miles per hour and can be inclined at a maximum incline of 12%. It also has a great cushioning system and the frame has a foldable design. The warranty is 10 years for the frame and motor, 2 years for the parts and electronics, and 90 days for the labor.
Frankly, the warranties on the body are on the extreme lower end. However, the warranties on the parts and electronics are quite generous.
- Great foldable design
- Max incline of 12%
- Great warranty on parts and electronics
- Not the quietest treadmill out there
The Matrix TF30 has some of the best features on the market and, once you see them, you’ll definitely want to own one. The motor is pretty decent with a power of 3.25 CHP. The track itself is 55 inches long by 20 inches wide. However, given the strength of the motor, runners can still exercise on this treadmill, provided they’re not too tall. The track can also have its incline adjusted to a maximum of 15%. Perhaps the greatest attraction for the Matrix TF30 is the technology that went into it. The console itself comes in 3 options. They are all touchscreens and feature virtual training videos, including great destinations, such as the Canadian Rockies and the Riviera in France. The treadmill also has Passport player and a foldable design. What’s not to love?
- Virtual training
- Maximum incline of 15%
- Lifetime warranty for body, 5-year warranty for parts and electronics, and 2-year warranty for labor.
- Pretty heavy
Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill
This treadmill has some great features and comes at a good bargain.
The Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill has a motor with 2.2 HP at the maximum. The CHP is likely to be lower. It also has a manual incline with 3 fixed levels at 0%, 2%, and 4.37%. Now that we have the bad news out of the way, let’s hear the good news. This treadmill has a neat foldable design using the proprietary Soft Drop mechanism. It also features 9 preset workout programs and a great LCD monitor. There are control keys on the handrail to make for easy control of the motor. You might also like that the motor offers a maximum speed of 9 miles per hour, which isn’t too shabby.
- Great foldable design
- 9 preset workout programs
- Great handrail control design
- 3-year warranty on body and 90-day warranty on parts and electronics
ProForm 505 CST
This treadmill is all about convenience, especially when laying it out for exercise. It has a great Space Saver design where it can be folded vertically during storage. It also has great cushioning with the proprietary ProShox Cushioning. The maximum incline is 10% and is power assisted, making it pretty quick. The speakers are also compatible with an iPod. The track itself is 20 inches wide by 55 inches long and the motor has 2.5 CHP. You’ll probably like the fact that it comes with 18 preset workout programs.
- 18 preset workout programs
- EKG heart rate monitor
- Great foldable design
- Limited warranty on parts and electronics
The LifeSpan TR1200i is a great treadmill with some pretty neat specs.
This treadmill comes with a 2.5 CHP motor and a track 56 inches long by 20 inches wide, making it great for walkers and moderate joggers. It has a great LCD monitor that tracks a range of data, including your calories, distance, and speed. It also comes with 21 preset workout programs across a range of exercise types from weight loss to sports training. It also has a lifetime warranty on the body and motor. It also has EZfold technology, making it portable and easy to store.
- Foldable design
- 21 preset workout programs
- Not ideal for intense runners
The GoPlus 1000W is among the best budget-priced treadmills. It also happens to be on the smaller side, as far as track size is concerned, being 43 inches long and 18 inches wide. It also features a great LCD monitor that monitors your heart rate, speed, distance, time, etc.
- Foldable Design
- Safety Key and emergency off-button on rail
- Soft, quiet track
- Only ideal for walkers
Life Fitness Club Series
The motor alone delivers 4.0 CHP and 8.0 HP at the peak. The track is 60 inches long and 22 inches wide, making it ideal for both walkers and runners, no matter what their height is. It has a wireless heart rate monitor along the contact one, a manager mode, it is compatible with your iPod, multiple language settings, fitness tests, a power incline up to 12%, a cup holder, a tray for accessories, and a reading rack. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
- Lifetime warranty on the body and motor, 10-year warranty on the parts and electronics, and 1-year warranty on labor
- Many preset workout programs
- Very heavy
As you can see, all the treadmills on this list have a lot of merits and demerits. Choosing the perfect one for you will depend on your specific wants and needs. However, given the needs of the average user, as well as their budget, we believe the best choice in this case would be the NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill. This treadmill is affordable for virtually everyone, and also offers the most basic features. You will, however, have to be diligent while using it to ensure it lasts long.
Choosing a treadmill boils down to knowing what to look for. With the right information, and adequate knowledge of what your individual needs are, you will be able to see right through the sales-speak and price wars and pick the best deal available. We hope this list helped you in your search. Don’t forget to stay fit!
The Benefits of a Treadmill
Perfect for Cardio – Running on a treadmill really does its magic when it comes to getting the heart rate through the roof and giving you the cardio workout of your life. When you try high intensity interval training on a treadmill, you increase the metabolism in your body and your capacity to burn fat. You also get to build your endurance and stamina. Everyone who has ever participated in a marathon knows that running at a slower pace for extended durations builds your endurance.
The exercises detailed above are excellent for a treadmill. You’re in a controlled environment, meaning you don’t have to worry about the weather or traffic on the road. This makes it ideal to have a treadmill right in your home.
Get rid of the Calories – Running has been shown by many scientific studies to be the most effective way to burn calories. Cardio, generally, offers everyone a great opportunity to burn extra calories and lose weight fast. There is no better way to start this routine than getting yourself a treadmill.
High interval intensity training helps you burn calories by raising your heart rate and causing your body to consume more oxygen during periods of rest. This causes the body to burn a much larger amount of calories than normal. A treadmill is perfect for this because the only limit is you. The amount of effort you can put in determines the amount of calories you can take out. Treadmills do not face the same limitations as steppers, bikes, and ellipticals.
Less Prone to Injury – One of the biggest drawbacks to running on concrete is the amount of impact your foot makes as it lands on the concrete. This makes you more prone to injury when running on concrete than any other surface. A lot of runners can attest to this, as they have experienced different forms of pain in their joints and other regions on their lower body.
Treadmills are typically designed with these issues in consideration. Different types of technologies enable a treadmill to absorb a significant portion of the impact generated by footfalls during running, keeping you safer and injury free. With treadmills, you can run without the fear of injury.
Gets You in a Great Mood – Yes, running does make you happy and gets you in a great mood. In case you’ve never heard of it, “runner’s high” is a phenomenon where running leads the body to release endorphins, which create positive moods. Because of this effect, runners frequently get addicted to running. If you really want to feel on top of the world, there’s no better way to achieve this than to get up and do a half-hour workout on your treadmill. Couple this with a nice shower afterward and you’ll be able to deal with anything that comes your way for the rest of the day.
Multitasking – One of the great advantages of a treadmill is that it allows you to multitask. You can engage in a large variety of activities while running on a treadmill, such as listening to music, audiobooks, and podcasts, watching T.V, or even reading. You might be thinking that this is also possible when running outside. However, you have to be a lot more aware of your surroundings when you’re outside since changing road conditions can sometimes be unsafe.
While on a treadmill, in the comfort of your own hope, none of these issues will bother you. The treadmill easily gets your body intro a consistent rhythm, freeing your mind up for other things.
Features To Look When Buying A Treadmill
Treadmills all have different specs, depending on the make, model, manufacturer, and price range. These features vary and, no matter how good or bad they are, marketers and advertisers will do everything they can to make them look top of the line. It helps to understand what every feature does and what to look out for. This gives you a better understanding of what makes a good treadmill good.
The Motor – Perhaps the most important part of a treadmill is the motor. This is what powers the track and turns your treadmill into the moving platform you see. When it comes to motor power, the most used unit is the horsepower. With a treadmill, there are two variations on this unit that are used to measure slightly different aspects of power. One is the absolute measure: horsepower, or HP. Think of HP as a measure of the maximum power the treadmill can achieve. This doesn’t necessarily mean the treadmill will always be operating at that level of power. Usain Bolt isn’t always running that fast in real life, is he? If you want to know what you’re most likely to get when it comes to regular power, the appropriate unit to look at is the continuous horsepower, or CHP. This is a measure of the typical power generated by the treadmill’s motor.
Your average treadmill will have between 2 and 4.5 CHP. Of course, there will be extremes where you’ll find treadmills with 1.5 CHP (I like to think these were made for pets), and those with 5 CHP (Usain Bolt, we’ve got your back!).
Okay, so we know what the motor does and how we measure its power, but that doesn’t tell us anything about how much power we actually want in our treadmill. Here there are 2 major factors to consider: your body weight and the type of exercise you’re engaging in. If you weigh less than 200 pounds, you will require about 2 CHP to walk. Add 0.5 CHP to this figure if you’ll be jogging, and another 0.5 CHP on top of that to give you 3.0 CHP when you’ll be running.
Motors also generally have a lifespan. They grow old and die, like most electronics. With a good treadmill, you can expect a lifetime warranty. This translates to about 50 years of use (I know, this isn’t really a ‘lifetime’, but it counts for a treadmill). If you get a cheaper treadmill, you can expect a warranty of between 10 and 25 years. Anything less than that and I wouldn’t trust that manufacturer at all.
The Length and Width of the Track – Track size isn’t typically something to fuss over for the more petite among us. Your strides won’t be as long and, as long as you aren’t too wide yourself, you don’t have to worry about falling off the track on either side. On the other hand, users who are taller or take much longer strides will want to know how long and wide the track is.
The industry standard is divided into sizes for walking treadmills and sizes for running treadmills. A walker will be about 55 inches in length while a runner will be between 58 and 60 inches in length. Here, too, are extremes. There are tracks that are up to 63 inches in length. This option only exists with specific brands, however.
When it comes to width, 20 inches is the standard length. There’s an emerging trend, however, where we’re seeing slightly wider tracks of 22 inches. This shouldn’t really matter, however, unless you’re a larger trainer (Think heavier than 200 pounds).
Durability – Durability here is in reference to the treadbelt. In any case, this will typically be the first part of the treadmill to get some serious wear and tear. It also happens to be where most of the action happens so it needs a little more care than the other parts.
Durability depends on 3 key factors: lubrication, thickness, and roller-width. We’ll have a look at each of them.
Your treadmill needs to be regularly lubricated. This helps it achieve a smooth performance and last longer. On your typical, average priced treadmill, this task is the owner’s responsibility. You will have to oil your treadmill track every couple of months. Stay too long and, not only will you have to deal with annoying creaks as the thing moves, your treadmill also won’t last very long. If you buy a pricier treadmill, however, you won’t need to deal with this. The best treadmills are maintenance-free because the tracks have already been infused with a permanent lubricant, such as silicone.
Next on the list is the thickness. In this case, we’re talking about the thickness of the belt. There are 3 levels of thickness: one-ply, two-ply, and four-ply. It probably goes without saying that the four-ply is more durable than the two-ply and the two-ply is more durable than the one-ply. You will find the thicker belts to be silent during use, giving you a more pleasant time as you exercise. The interesting thing to note is that advertisers and marketers become mute when they’re selling you a one-ply, which is what you’ll get for most of the budget-priced treadmills. If they’re selling you a treadmill with a thick belt, they won’t let you hear the end of it; they’ll boast about it every chance they get. However, if they’re selling you a one-ply, they won’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole.
Finally, we look at roller-width. The rollers are the circular gears that propel the track. When they’re narrower, they exert greater stress on the motor and reduce belt life. The opposite effect is witnessed when they’re wider. The ideal width is somewhere around 2.5 inches for your average home treadmill.
Speed – Of course, depending on what kind of exercise you’re looking to do on your treadmill, you’ll want to know what the maximum attainable speed is. For the average home user, 10 miles per hour will do. If you like to do those 5-minute power runs, then you’ll probably want something faster. Faster treadmills aren’t very easy to find for less than $1000. However, there is an ongoing trend where they are becoming increasingly more available.
Cushioning – You’re probably wondering what this is about. Who needs cushions on treadmills? Well, it has something to do with a phenomenon commonly experienced by runners who do a lot of their running on hard surfaces, such as concrete. Your feet naturally generate some kind of impact with the ground while you run, and depending on your weight and how fast you’re running, this impact can be sizeable. The result is that you become prone to injuries, especially around the joints. Treadmills cushion you from this impact, reducing it by between 15 and 40 percent. This reduces your susceptibility to injuries and increases your stamina. It’s actually one of the primary benefits of treadmills over conventional running.
If you decide to splash a little, you can get some state-of-the-art technology when it comes to cushioning. Some treadmills allow you to adjust the cushioning while others give different levels of cushioning, depending on whether you’re landing on the track or pushing your feet off.
The Incline – We all know that jogging is good. It helps you burn calories and lose weight, or simply stay fit. We also know that the only better thing than jogging, apart from running, is jogging up a hill. So why can’t we have treadmills that give us the experience of going uphill? Well, we do, and that’s another feature you might want to look out for.
If you want faster results when it comes to your fitness, you can never go wrong with a treadmill incline. It not only helps you burn more calories, but reduces your chances of injury around the joints and gives you the flexibility to target specific muscle groups.
Inclines are measured in percentages, with the majority of treadmills allowing you to adjust the incline to between 10 and 20 percent. You might even find some treadmills that have a decline feature, allowing you to go downhill instead of up. Your average treadmill will have a motorized incline. If you buy a really cheap treadmill, the incline adjustment will be manual.
The Workout Programs – Most treadmills these days come with some form of workout programs that are designed to cater for different goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build your endurance, or simply stay fit, you’ll probably find something that works for you in the preset programs that come with your treadmill. These programs will do things like controlling the speed of your treadmills as well as the level of incline or decline.
There are also more advanced and immersive programs out there that come with the pricier treadmills. One example is Passport Virtual Active Technology, which is rather quite pricey. Passport will connect to your TV and show scenic workouts, being able to adjust the speed and intensity of your workout according to your choice. Another, cheaper option is iFit, which can be integrated with most NordicTrack, ProForm, and HealthRider treadmills. Perhaps its most prominent feature is its ability to connect to Google Maps.
The Weight Capacity – The rule of thumb here is to pick a treadmill that supports at least 50 pounds more than your own weight. Most treadmills can carry between 250 and 400 pounds max, so most people are covered.
Portability – Treadmills are great and all, but they take up a lot of space. It would be great to have one which you can easily fold up when you’re done. The good news is that this option exists for virtually every price range. Even better, you don’t have to be super strong to do it as most treadmills feature power-assist technology.
Despite the allure of a portable treadmill that is easy to store, you should be careful not to get a substandard product. Some really small treadmills are light and be put anywhere. However, this doesn’t mean they’re the best treadmills money can buy.
The Warranty – If you want to get a sense of the quality of the treadmill you’re buying, look at the warranty offered by the manufacturer. There are generally 4 parts covered by the warranty. These are the motor, frame, parts, and the labor.
- Motor – You’ll be looking for a lifetime warranty here. If you get a cheaper treadmill, you can expect something like 25 years.
- Frame – Here you should expect nothing but a lifetime warranty, even from the cheaper models.
- Parts – The warranties are more diverse here. Parts are generally not as long-lived as the motor or the frame. The cheapest treadmills offer no warranties on parts and electronics. Some may offer 3-month warranties. As you go higher up the price-ladder, you get 1-year, 5-year, and, in the case of Landice treadmills, lifetime warranties.
- Labor – Labor generally means after-sales service. You won’t get this with the cheaper treadmills out there. The average treadmill, however, will offer up to 2 years of free labor. There will, however, be conditions upon this labor in most cases, and the quality will vary. NordicTrack requires you to pay the shipping costs on any machine repair. Landice will give you free labor right in your home. However, you will have to be within 60 miles of a licensed Landice dealer.
Safety – The most important feature I this case is auto-stop. Different treadmill users will find this valuable, such as the elderly, children, and even pets. Usually, there is a key attached to your body that controls the auto-stop feature. If you slip, the key disengages itself and triggers the treadmill to turn off.
The Buying Process
The buying process probably requires its own guides. The process of buying a treadmill is just as important as having the treadmill in the end. For one, treadmills come in a large variety of options. If you don’t narrow your options right from the start, you’re likely to suffer from analysis paralysis and get a brain sprain. Also, price is an important thing to consider. The companies trying to sell you their treadmills have been playing this game for a very long time, so they know all the cheats and tricks, as far as price games are concerned. If you don’t prepare yourself, you’re more likely to get a morbid case of buyer’s remorse, rather than happiness at your new treadmill.
Size Matters – You need to know how much space you will be allocating to your treadmill beforehand. This gives you a clearer picture of what to go out and buy in terms of size.
Treadmill dimensions are fairly straightforward and are typically published. You can therefore know beforehand how much space to set aside. Don’t just look at length, either. Width and height matter just as much. The width of your treadmill, for example, has a significant impact on your treadmill’s footprint. The average treadmill is about 20 inches wide. If you’ll be running most of the time, and need more room on the side, you might want to go for a treadmill with a width of 22 inches. Of course, 20 inches is still quite wide enough for running, it just leaves you with slightly less room.
Length-wise, a walker will be quite comfortable with 50 inches. If you’ll be running, 55 inches will do. If you’re over 6 feet tall and running, you should probably get a 60 inch long treadmill for max comfort.
The typical home treadmill, track and all, will be about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. You will, of course, find some which are much shorter and others which are longer. However, the best treadmills are foldable, making them less of a hassle to have around the house.
Foldable treadmills are a great idea, of course, but don’t forget to look out for quality. You should also still keep an eye out for the dimensions to know what space the treadmill will take when it’s opened up or else it won’t matter how small it becomes when fully folded.
It’s also important to understand yourself. The kind of exercise you see yourself doing is important when determining the size and power of the treadmill you’ll get. If all you want to do on your treadmill is take a long, leisurely walk, then you don’t need a large treadmill or a powerful motor. If you’ll be doing some intense running, then you’ll likely need a powerful motor and a larger treadmill.
Decide on what Features You Want – Most features aren’t essential to the workout program. However, they make the whole experience smoother and a lot more pleasurable. Such features include speakers compatible with iPods, television screens, browsers, and workout programs. With extras, it’s easy to get carried away if you aren’t prepared. It’s therefore imperative that you know beforehand exactly what kind of features you want.
Some practical extras you might want to come along with your treadmill include the following:
Workout Programs – Most of the mid-priced treadmills come with a few preset workout programs, while the cheapest ones don’t. Some treadmills will only have a few of these programs while others may have nearly a hundred. The extra programming labor required is what makes some treadmills so expensive, despite having no physical advantages over similar, but cheaper, treadmills.
There is also special workout technology that comes with specific brands:
- Passport Virtual Active – These workout programs come in the form of videos, with a little interactivity built into them. The Passport player can easily be hooked into your television, allowing you to have an immersive workout experience full of picturesque scenes and soothing sounds. The videos also adapt to the speed and intensity of your workout, giving the whole process quite a realistic feel.
- iFit – iFit works via the internet, and can be delivered through a wireless internet connection. The technology works on a subscription model and includes the ability to download different personalized workout programs. iFit also offers video workouts and can be connected to the Google Maps app. With this app, you can chart an actual route on the map and experience it on your treadmill. Not only will you be able to see the actual streets via the StreetView stream, but you’ll also be able to experience the changing terrain and inclines.
Nothing Beats a Test Run – The best way to get a good idea of what using a treadmill will be like once it’s in your home is to test it before you bring it into your home. This allows you to get a good idea of the comfort levels of the track and how good the features are. However, while it’s a good idea to test, this does not necessarily mean you should buy your treadmill from the same shop where you tested it. It’s always a better idea to buy a treadmill online, rather than physically at a department store. The original manufacturer’s website will always give you a better deal. If you don’t get the opportunity to test the treadmill first, then you should read as many reviews as you can of it to find out what other people think of it. You can start with our own reviews to find out which treadmills happen to be the most popular this year.