Three best treadmills

Kailey Fralick

If you’re short on space, consider a folding treadmill. Measure the area first to make sure you can accommodate the model you’re interested in.

You love to run, but streets and sidewalks can put a lot of strain on your joints. And if you live in the northern part of the country, running outdoors might not even be possible in the winter. That's where a treadmill comes in. These machines can give you the same kind of workout in the comfort of your own home, and they're known for being easier on your joints. If you're thinking about getting a treadmill, here are the most important things you need to consider.

Considerations when choosing treadmills

Folding or non-folding

Folding: A folding treadmill should suffice for most people. The advantage of this type is that you can fold it up when you're done, so it takes up less room in your home. However, folding treadmills are not typically as durable as their non-folding counterparts. If you do buy a folding treadmill, make sure it has a good warranty and comes with safety features that prevent the treadmill from slamming to the ground if it slips out of your hands while you're folding it.

Non-folding: Non-folding treadmills are more durable than folding models, but they take up a lot more room, so they're not a good fit for smaller homes or apartments. However, if you're looking to invest in a machine that will last you for many years, a non-folding model may suit you better.

Treadmill features

Today's treadmills are much more than a simple rotating belt. Here are some features that you can expect to find as you shop:

Speed and incline controls: Most treadmills come with adjustable speed and incline controls so you can change the difficulty of your workouts.

Safety features: Look for a machine that has an emergency stop button or a clip that you attach to your clothes that will automatically stop the machine if you fall.

Built-in workouts: Some treadmills have preprogrammed workouts that vary in intensity and incline. You might also be able to save custom workouts to the console.

Entertainment features: High-end treadmills often come with WiFi, a built-in audio port, or Bluetooth speakers, and some have a TV attached to the console.

Warranty: A good treadmill will come with a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor. You usually get a one-year warranty on parts and labor, too.


Q. Are treadmills hard on the knees and ankles?

A. Treadmills are actually gentler on your joints than running on pavement, though the impact reduction varies depending on the model. Some have extra shock absorbers in the deck to make running easier on your knees and joints.

Q. How do I know how large a treadmill I need?

A. That will be determined by your weight and height. All treadmills have a weight limit. You can find this information by looking over the treadmill's online product page or contacting the manufacturer. Taller people will want to look for a treadmill with a longer deck. A standard deck is usually about 55 or 56 inches, while extra-long decks can be 60 inches or more, allowing for a longer, more natural stride.

Treadmills we recommend

Best of the best: LifeSpan Fitness TR3000i Folding Treadmill

Our take: This treadmill is a perfect choice for the fitness enthusiast who wants to vary workouts and track progress over time.

What we like: This compact treadmill folds up for easy storage and comes with 15 incline levels and half-mile speed increments up to 12 miles per hour. It tracks your workout stats and can send these to your phone if you link the two devices via Bluetooth.

What we dislike: While it's a solid machine, it's a little pricey compared to other treadmills with similar features.

Best bang for your buck: Proform 505 CST Treadmill

Our take: It might not have enough power to satisfy the hardest-training athletes, but if you're just looking for the occasional workout at home, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more feature-rich machine in this price range.

What we like: This folding treadmill comes with adjustable speed and incline controls up to 10 miles per hour and 10%, respectively. The deck cushioning helps to ease the impact on your joints, and the built-in audio port means you won't have to worry about your smartphone falling off the console.

What we dislike: Some reports of misaligned parts when assembled.

Choice 3: Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

Our take: This treadmill isn't cheap, but it's worth the investment if you're looking for a powerful machine that's going to hold up well over time.

What we like: Elite athletes will appreciate the powerful 3.5 CHP motor, the two-ply belt, and the Cushion Flex Whisper Deck that helps to reduce impact by up to 40%. It comes with several built-in fitness programs and an extra-long deck, so it's a great choice for taller runners.

What we dislike: A few reports of problems with the machine not turning on when first trying to start it up.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.