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Buying a treadmill for home is a great first step on your journey to a leaner, fitter, healthier body. Fad workouts and fancy, hard-to-use exercise equipment come and go, but walking, jogging, and running are exercise staples that have been around for as long as the human body has been around, and they won’t go out of fashion anytime soon (or ever) for one simple reason: They work.
Comparison: Top 10 Best Treadmills
Because there are a plethora of treadmills on the market from which to choose, it’s important to do your homework so you end up with the one that best suits your needs, goals, available space, and budget. You don’t want to end up like one of the many people out there (some of whom you probably know) who spend thousands on a treadmill only to have it serve as the most expensive clothes-hanger and or dust collector in the neighborhood. The information below highlights what you should be looking for to ensure you end up with the best treadmill on the market for your money. Read carefully and you’ll find it will help you make the best choice to suit your unique goals.
Why Buy a Treadmill for Home?
The treadmill will always be a great first choice for someone wanting to exercise at home for several reasons.
One, if you want your exercise routine to make your day-to-day life easier, and most people do, the exercises you do should be functional and simulate things you actually do every day. There is no physical activity we do more by necessity than walking.
Imagine being able to take your dog on long walks or stroll to the grocery store instead of driving without having to worry about becoming winded or having to stop and rest at frequent intervals because your legs are tired. Walking and or jogging on a treadmill every day will make traversing longer distances on foot more second-nature to you, which will make it easier for you to get your exercise outside on those beautiful days you don’t want to miss.
Another benefit of the treadmill over walking outside, besides the obvious ones like bad weather not being a factor, is that most modern treadmills have extensive built-in computers that allow you to program, vary, and track your workouts. Want to simulate going for a long walk in a steep, hilly city like San Francisco? There are many treadmills on the market that will enable you to program such a workout. Want to graduate from walking or jogging but don’t yet have the endurance to crank out a full mile at a jog?
Most treadmills are equipped with an interval training option. You can set it to move at a jog speed for a half mile, then a brisk walk speed for a half mile, and so on. A good treadmill computer can measure distance traveled, average speed, number of feet climbed if walking at an incline, calories burned, and even your average heart rate. More advanced treadmill models are even capable of adjusting the speed and incline automatically to keep your heart rate within a specified range.
Finally, good treadmills have ergonomic designs and specially designed running/walking surfaces which make it safer and more comfortable for walking or jogging as compared to an asphalt or cement sidewalk. Bone-jarring exercise is good, and many studies have shown that it helps to stave off bone-wasting ailments such as osteoporosis; with that said, there is a balance between a constant impact being healthy and beneficial and it being too hard on your body. Well-designed treadmills enable you to find that balance.
Folding vs Non-Folding Treadmills
SaveFolding treadmills are a great option for those who do not have a lot of space available; those who frequently move from place to place, such as apartment renters; and those who simply want the convenience of being able to fold their treadmill up and stow it away when they need to make more space, such as when entertaining or hosting company in their home.
Those for whom space-efficiency and portability are not concerns may be more interested in a larger, more elaborate, higher-end model. These models obviously take up more room and are much more difficult to move, but they also tend to be sturdier, capable of accommodating more weight, and loaded with more features.
Desk treadmills are a nice piece of innovation for busy professionals. Best of all, they render the excuse of “I didn’t work out today because I had too much work to do” much less effective.
A desk treadmill is exactly what its name implies: a treadmill with a built-in desk that can hold a computer, phone, files, a fax machine — everything you need to conduct business while you get in your daily stroll!
Desk treadmills are a great option for multi-taskers and workaholics who have a tendency to believe that “time is money” and that too much time spent away from the office, such as time spent at the gym or working out, is costing them productivity and income.
For those more serious about working out and more willing to take time away from work for it, a desk treadmill may not be the best option. It’s hard to imagine running timed 400-meter sprints while brokering a precious metals deal!
Most people have exercised on a treadmill at one time or another, whether at a health club, a country club, or a friend’s house. However, most also have never taken the time to analyze the specific features of the treadmills they’ve used and considered which ones would be most necessary to make their daily workouts more effective and their individual goals easier to achieve.
A good first step for anyone wanting to ensure they end up with the best treadmill for their money would be to make a list of what they want out of a treadmill. Don’t list actual treadmill features such as an adjustable incline or an iPod jack. Instead, your list should consist of statements such as, “I want to improve my 800-meter time,” “I want to burn 500 calories per day,” or “I want to be able to run a 5K without having to stop and walk.” Once your concrete goals are laid out on paper, it will be much easier for you to match those goals with the specific treadmill features which will best help you achieve them.
Below are some of the most important things you will want to take into consideration when shopping for a treadmill.
Size: Size is one of the first attributes you should use to whittle down your list of possibilities to a manageable level. If you live in a large home with an open floor plan and plenty of available space, size may not be as serious of a concern as it is for someone who lives in an apartment or a smaller, more compartmentalized home. However, chances are you have a preference as to how large you want your piece of workout equipment to be and how much space you’re willing to have it consume.
Dimensions are listed on all of the treadmills we review below. A good suggestion is to scope out the area of your home where you’re going to place your treadmill, then for each model you consider to be a possibility, measure out the space it would take up in that area and picture it sitting there. Would you have enough room to maneuver? Would you feel too cramped while working out? Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to the size of your treadmill!
Cost: This is a very obvious consideration when choosing a treadmill. Clearly, you want to buy a model you can afford and that won’t wreck your budget. However, if you want a quality machine that you can dedicate yourself to using to stay fit for a long time, you should be realistic about the investment required. There are many treadmills out there that are dirt cheap, but it takes less than ten steps on one to figure out why. You don’t want something like that in your home if you are serious about being fit and healthy.
With that said, you shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage on your home to obtain a treadmill that meets your needs and that will give you a great workout. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to scratch some of the fancier models with the most amenities off your list, but you can still purchase a great machine that is safe, comfortable, and will provide an effective workout.
Max Speed: If you’re simply looking to walk a few miles per day at a brisk pace to get your heart rate up and burn a few hundred calories, there is no reason to spend extra for a machine capable of speeds only Usain Bolt can reach. For a more advanced athlete who is interested in speed work as well as general conditioning, however, max speed is something that should be taken into consideration. For example, some machines cap out at 10 miles per hour. That is the pace of a six-minute mile or a 90-second 400-meter dash. Some advanced treadmill users like to train at faster speeds than this, so if this applies to you, make sure you take max speed into consideration when buying a treadmill.
Noise Level: This is another one of those considerations that is of absolutely no consequence to some consumers but is vitally important to others. If you need a treadmill you can use without disturbing others around you, whether it be roommates, children, or spouses, make sure you read what other users have to say about the noise level emitted by any model you are considering.
Tread Belt Length: Tread belt length is an important consideration for a couple of reasons. One, taller users who have longer strides may feel constrained by treadmills with a shorter tread belt. As you stride on your treadmill, there should be plenty of room both in front of you and behind you. This will enable you to stride comfortably without having to be concerned with taking too big of a step and taking a tumble. Also, users who plan on running at high speeds, such as during interval training, will want to make sure to consider only machines with longer tread belt lengths, as the consequences of mis-stepping and falling off a treadmill are much greater at 12 miles per hour than they are at 2 miles per hour!
Workout Effectiveness: Analyzing workout effectiveness is a little more complex and involved than analyzing something more cut-and-dry like cost or size. For one thing, the definition or description of an “effective” workout varies from one person to another. Here are a few things to consider that will help you figure out which treadmill will allow to you receive the most effective workout on a consistent basis.
You will want to look at the aforementioned speed ranges of any machine you consider, as well as incline. More basic models usually have lower max speeds and a small, if any, incline variance. More elaborate machines designed for advanced athletes enable users to move at speeds ranging from 2 miles per hour to 15 or more, with the option of a very steep incline if you wish.
Something else to consider is a treadmill’s technological capabilities. All but the most bare-bones models will have a digital screen capable of displaying speed, incline, distance traveled, and calories burned. The options only get more advanced from there, and range from heart rate tracking to race simulations, even virtual one-on-one coaching!
Finally, many treadmills offer luxuries like built-in speakers, iPod docking stations, televisions, and drink holders. If you think any or all of these will make your workout more enjoyable and effective, and thus motivate you to stick with it, you should put these options at the top of your list.
Comfort: If you’re not comfortable during your workout, you will never stick with it. Therefore, it’s important to choose a treadmill with comfort in mind. Look at what users have to say about the running surface. If you’re someone who is prone to afflictions such as shin splints when running, you will want to pay extra close attention to this area.
Also consider the aforementioned luxuries featured on many treadmills such as televisions and speakers; if you find it difficult to stick to a workout without some kind of entertainment to take your mind of what you’re doing, make sure the treadmill you choose provides you with what you need.
Best Treadmills by Price
With all the different treadmill models out there at various price points, it can be difficult for a beginner user to sift through the miasma of information and obtain the important facts he or she needs to ensure he is getting the best value from his money.
The information below should help you take some of the guess work out of it. Based on hundreds of reviews online, here are some options which provide a very solid value for the money at a variety of price points.
Best Treadmill Under $200
Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill
SaveThis machine is very basic and it certainly isn’t for professional athletes or hardcore fitness enthusiasts, but for a price point of less than $200, it more than gets the job done.
For one thing, online reviewers report that the treadmill is sturdy and unlike other inexpensive models they have used, it doesn’t feel the least bit weak or unstable when using it. With that said, most users recommend the Confidence Power Plus for walking or power-walking only. While running speeds are possible, users report that it is noisy and somewhat shaky at higher speeds.
Another advantage of this machine is that it is very small and light. A reviewer who described herself as a petite female reported that she has no trouble moving this treadmill from room to room when needed. She also wrote that it was very easy to assemble and set up when she received it and that the entire process took less than 30 minutes.
The built-in computer is basic but gets the job done. It is very easy to adjust the treadmill speed up and down and it even comes with an emergency clip you can affix to your body that will automatically stop the belt if you get too far away from the center console.
There is no adjustable incline; however, some users have found a way around this by using props to physically elevate the front end of the machine. This should be safe to do as long as it is done at a reasonable level such as a few inches.
Best Treadmill Under $500
ProForm 6.0 RT
SaveFor users wanting more options and flexibility than is available on the previous model but still wanting to stay at a very low price point, the ProForm 6.0 RT is a solid option.
While the lower-priced model is really only effective for brisk walking, the ProForm 6.0 RT runs smoothly and efficiently at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. As previously mentioned, this is the pace of a six-minute mile so it should be plenty fast for all but the most advanced athletes.
The ProForm6.0 RT also enables users to walk at up to a 10% incline, which can add variety to your workout as well as increasing workout intensity and calories burned while also decreasing the impact on your knees. This is a very beneficial feature for users with joint issues.
The built-in computer on the ProForm 6.0 RT is more advanced than the one on the previous model. It features eight pre-programmed workout apps, all designed by certified personal trainers.
With TreadSoft Cushioning, the impact on your joints from using the ProForm 6.0 RT is minimal, ensuring a more comfortable, pleasant workout and also a shorter recovery period between training sessions. The tread belt length is 55 inches, providing safe and comfortable striding even for longer stride lengths. Reviewers well over six feet tall have reported comfortable use of the ProForm 6.0 RT.
For users who want a light but intense workout on a machine that is comfortable, durable, and provides many amenities, there are few options available at under five hundred dollars but the ProForm 6.0 RT fits the bill.
Best Treadmill Under $1000
ProForm Power 995i
SaveThis is a bigger, stronger, more capable version of the ProForm 6.0 RT, reviewed above. It is ideal for athletes who want to stay under a thousand dollars on their treadmill but want more features and the ability for a harder workout than can be achieved on the previous model.
For one thing, the ProForm Power 995i allows speeds of up to 12 miles per hour and an incline of up to 15 percent. 12 miles per hour is the speed of a five-minute mile. Unless you are in the top one percent of athletes in the world, there is no reason to shell out more money just to have a machine capable of going faster than this. 99 percent of treadmill users will never have a need to exercise at a higher speed than 12 miles per hour.
Instead of having only 8 pre-programmed workouts from certified personal trainers, the ProForm Power 995i offers 30. Not only that, but 10 of those workouts are powered by Google Maps. You can experience what it would be like to walk or jog at various real places throughout the world.
There is a 7-inch backlit display which tracks your speed, time, distance, and how many calories you’ve burned. It even allows you to log your workouts so each time you step on the machine, you can aim to beat your previous workout.
Another neat feature of the ProForm Power 995i is its iFit capability. Want to see what it’s like to take a jog on that road in the hills of North Carolina your cousin told you about? You can do this by tapping into Google Maps through iFit, plotting it out, and the ProForm Power 995i will simulate every climb, plateau, and dip.
Best Treadmill for Home Use
To determine the best treadmill for home use, you must consider comfort, functionality, durability, ease of use, as well as portability and space-efficiency.
A good treadmill for home use can provide nearly the same level of comfort and functionality as do health club treadmills which cost several thousand dollars each, while also being much lighter, much less cumbersome to move, and most importantly, significantly lower in price.
Our Pick: LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill
SaveThe LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill offers a plethora of options which enable its users to achieve a health club quality workout, but it still maintains a price point of under $1000 and it is ideal for apartment-dwellers, users who move frequently, and those with limited space. It features an “EZ Drop” folding system making it simple for anyone to fold it up and move it from room to room.
For a folding treadmill, te LifeSpan TR 1200i is very durable. It supports users weighing as much as 300 pounds and operates smoothly at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour and at an incline of up to 15 percent, adjustable in increments of one percent.
The surface area of the tread belt is 20 inches by 56 inches, so there is plenty of room in both length and width for users of all sizes and stride lengths. The two-ply cushioned belt helps absorb the impact as you jog, making it much easier on your joints.
Where the LifeSpan TR 1200i really sets itself apart from the competition is in its built-in LCD console, which comes with a host of workout tracking options allowing you to tailor your workouts to your specific goals and track your progress. The LCD readout is capable of displaying all the basics such as speed, distance, time elapsed, calories burned, and heart rate, but it goes far beyond that. There are 17 preprogrammed workouts, each designed by exercise physiologists, and each of those workouts features 20 different segments from which you can choose based on your fitness level and goals.
The most advanced feature of the console is called the My Zone Constant program. This enables you to keep your heart rate within a target range. When your heart rate approaches the top end of that range, the machine will detect this and automatically lower the speed and or the incline until your heart rate settles back down to the middle of your target zone. If your heart rate begins to slow down too much, the speed and or incline will increase automatically until the machine detects your heart rate is where you want it to be.
Other amenities include built-in, high quality speakers and an iPod jack as well as a counting feature which operates like a pedometer. A lifetime warranty is offered on both the frame and the motor.
There are numerous considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a treadmill, and those considerations vary from person to person based on individual preferences, goals, and restrictions. The goal of this review was to inform prospective treadmill owners of which machines at various price points meet most buyers’ primary objectives in terms of comfort, functionality, portability, and space-efficiency.
Whether you are buying a $200 treadmill, a $1,000 treadmill, or anything in between, there is a wide gamut of quality available at each price point. Make sure you read up on any treadmill you are considering carefully, listen to current owners about their experiences, and use this information to make a purchase that best suits your needs.
For more detailed information, refer to the full reviews for each of the treadmills listed above. Arm yourself with this information and you are sure to end up with the best treadmill for your money!
Mike Nikko is a blogger with over 15 years of experience. I will bring you the best product reviews and other useful life experiences, tips to increase height, tips to improve health… If you have any questions, feel free to ask Mike Nikko!