The 8 Best Treadmills
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in May of 2015. If you want to enjoy the health and beauty benefits that come with staying in shape, but don't want to deal with people on the street or at the gym, then having your own treadmill makes sense. The options on this list are perfect for getting in a solid workout from the comfort of your home — and you'll never have to worry about that creepy guy taking the machine next to you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 25, 2021:
After the last editor for this page cleaned out most of our budget picks, there wasn’t a lot of thinning out left for us to do, although we did consider removing the Exerpeutic TF1000 – which is only capable of speeds up to four miles per hour – but ultimately decided that there was no harm in including it at the bottom of our list, for the benefit of senior citizens and beginner exercisers who are interested in walking, but don’t expect to be progressing to running any time soon.
We also eliminated the Sole Fitness F80 and Schwinn 830 due to availability concerns. It was difficult for us to judge how long-term these issues would prove to be, as the last year has seen plenty of sporadic shortages for fitness equipment, but we decided to let these two go, to play it safe. Instead, we added the OMA 6134EAI to our list, which impressed us with its 15-percent maximum incline and and 23-inch dot matrix screen.
Lastly, we replaced the ProForm 2000 with the updated ProForm Smart Pro 2000, which has proven to be a well lauded model thus far.
If you don’t see anything that you like on this generalized list, you might find that you have better luck with one of our specialized sets of rankings. We’ve got lists of budget treadmills, commercial-grade treadmills, folding treadmills and even treadmills for dogs.
February 19, 2020:
During this update, I made the difficult decision to remove a lot of the budget-friendly treadmills we had. Why? Because, while my natural instinct is to always recommend affordable options, especially seeing as professional-grade treadmills can cost thousands, my past experience of investing in cheap treadmills with small running tracks runs completely counter to that instinct. Don’t get me wrong - cheap treadmills are usually fine for power-walking and other light activities, but, unless you’re incredible petite or only doing some very light jogging, they’re hopeless. They’re wobbly and their programming options suck; but most importantly their running surfaces are too small for regular-sized people - a fact that I can attest to, having tripped on my old budget treadmills on a handful of occasions.
Perhaps I’m just a clumsy runner, but if you really like to get into your runs like I do without having to constantly watch your foot placement, then, as a matter of safety, I would recommend a track that’s at least 20 inches wide and 50 inches long for serious runs. Hence, I’ve taken out the Sunny Health & Fitness with its 15.5 x 45-inch track and Weslo Cadence R5.2 with its 16 x 50-inch track.
I would say that ample width is more important than length, and so I’ve left in the Exerpeutic TF1000 as the only budget-friendly option here with a 40-inch track, but it really depends on your stride length. If you’re not a serious runner and you want something smaller, then you can always look at our budget-friendly treadmills and foldable treadmills.
I’ve filled the gaps in the list with some professional-grade models, like the NordicTrack 1750 and NordicTrack 2950, as well as the Sole Fitness F80. The NordicTrack 1750 is like a lite version of the 2950, with an intermediary model – the 2450 – in between the two. All 3 options are recommendation-worthy, but I felt it redundant to include all in the list, so I’ve highlighted models at either end. Both models have the same running track size of 22 x 60 inches and reach the same maximum speed of 12 mph, but the 2950 has a larger motor, a broader incline range and a significantly larger screen.
I’ve also upgraded the Horizon Fitness T101-05 from the older 04 version that was listed. Like models in the aforementioned NordicTrack series, the T202 and T303 are all good, but I think that the T101 offers the best value for money – it’s one of the better budget-friendly options that offers an ample surface area.
Finally, I’ve added the Sole Fitness F80 – another excellent commercial-grade treadmill. The company makes some great professional treadmills and many of their F-series models are great, like the F85 and the F65, which is a more entry-level professional-grade model, but I’ve decided to highlight the F80 here for the best balance of features.
NordicTrack Commercial x32i This is a range-topping model in NordicTrack’s professional incline-series treadmills. Where commercial-grade treadmills rarely offer inclines above 15%, this model can raise itself all the way up to a previously unthinkable 40%. It also has a 6% decline, and a whopping 32-inch screen, which is ideal for interactive training sessions, like the kind you get with its one-year complementary iFit membership. It’s expensive, though it does come with financing options. nordictrack.com
ProForm 505 CST If you're looking for a reasonably affordable model that isn't bogged down by a bunch of costly extras, but can still deliver a killer cardio session, this is one option worth considering. It has a 20- by 55-inch deck that can accommodate users up to 325 pounds and is capable of speeds up to 10 miles per hour. dickssportinggoods.com
More To A Treadmill Than Meets The Eye
At first glance, it doesn't look like a treadmill is that complicated of a machine.
At first glance, it doesn't look like a treadmill is that complicated of a machine. All you really see of it is the console, some posts, and a belt that wraps around a flat surface.
To put the complex construction of any given treadmill into perspective for you, we've provided this almost needlessly elaborate schematic of all the treadmill's parts.
This is, honestly, the other end of the spectrum, and it makes a treadmill out to be more intricate than it is at its core.
The heart of the treadmill is near the center of the image, where you see the main motor component which turns an internal belt, whose motion translates to the movement of large rollers. Those rollers move the big belt on which you run.
It's a pretty simple transition of energy from one element to the next, but the stronger the motor and the sturdier the rollers, the better the treadmill.
Judge Tread: Evaluating Your Perfect Mill
When I was in my teens, I would start almost every year with a resolution to get in shape. Too much refined sugar and simple carbohydrates kept me in a perpetual state of chubbiness, and those holiday months of hibernation, hot chocolate, and home-baked cookies didn't help.
So, every January, I'd roll the old treadmill out of the closet and set it up, hop on, and begin the long, tedious, suffering path toward fitness. By my junior year, with a little more commitment and a better eating plan, I finally got in the shape I desired.
The treadmill we had was perfect because it stored nicely enough that we never felt the need to get rid of it to save space.
The treadmill we had was perfect because it stored nicely enough that we never felt the need to get rid of it to save space. That allowed me to keep trying year after year until the habit stuck.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you're going to be the prefect runner, or that you're going to get the best results out of your treadmill within a certain amount of time.
A lot of your success here is going to depend on you, but if you get the right machine, not only will your chances of success go up, the likelihood that the treadmill will last as long as you need to establish good habits becomes greater, as well.
That decision comes down to your current level of fitness, your goals for yourself, and your space. If you can fit a big machine in your house or apartment, and you need that great top speed and steep incline just to break a sweat, then go for it.
If, however, you're really just looking to raise your heart rate a few times a week, maybe just to get a good, brisk walk in during the months of the year when it's too cold to go walking outside, a smaller, simpler machine might be perfect for you.
Oh, and don't forget to mention to your doctor any drastic changes in your eating or exercise habits. He or she might want to help you ease into it. After all, there's nothing worse than having to suspend your journey toward wellness to recover from an injury.
It's Always Been A Punishment
If you've ever heard anyone describe their workout as 'punishing,' it turns out they were making a specific historical reference, though they might not have known it.
Their climbing motion turned the heavy stones that ground grain in the mill.
Back in the early 1800s, a miller's son devised a form of effective punishment for idle prisoners. Based on the principal of the water wheel, the original treadmills were long, step-based wheel systems on which prisoners would be forced to climb.
Their climbing motion turned the heavy stones that ground grain in the mill. Hence the term 'treadmill.'
It was more than 150 years later that the first consumer treadmill hit the market in response to growing evidence of the need for exercise among Americans.
More recently, we've seen the incorporation of Bluetooth connectivity, built in speaker systems, and advanced statistic tracking, among other technological developments.
When the weather's nice, I still think nothing beats a good run outdoors, but when the weather's cold or rainy, and as the sun and the air get more dangerous to our health, having one of these high-tech treadmills in the home is necessary.