While the basic design of all treadmills is the same, there are many ways to customize one for personal use. For instance, upgrading to an interactive console with media features can take some of the boredom out of a treadmill workout and motivate users to go further than they would otherwise.

The price of a treadmill is important to many consumers, but that shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when shopping. It’s important to buy a treadmill that has the cushion, technology and durability you need to complete your workouts.

Top 10 Best Rated Treadmills

Yowza Fitness specializes in advanced cardio equipment such as ellipticals and treadmills. They offer unique technology and online shopping options. Select models may include interest-free financing and a warranty.
Life Fitness treadmills are designed for both home and commercial use. They have several console options available, including touch screen consoles with entertainment features and interactive monitoring. Prices start at $2,199.
Precor treadmills are designed for commercial use, with several models to meet the budget and space requirements of facilities. They also have a variety of consoles to keep users engaged and motivated. Prices start at $2,199.
Founded in 1986 as Bowflex, Nautilus sells fitness equipment for home and commercial use. Their treadmill speeds range from 0-12 miles per hour and allow users to track and monitor their progress online. Prices start at $1,499.
HealthRider has been producing fitness equipment for home use since the 1990s. Their treadmills are designed for home use and include technological features for maximum comfort and motivation. Prices start at $999.
With a low starting price of $399, Weslo treadmills are ideal for home treadmill users who need a basic model for walking or running. Buy Weslo treadmills on their website for curbside delivery.
Star Trac sells high quality treadmills designed for commercial use to fitness facilities around the world. Their treadmills feature a weight capacity up to 500 pounds and integrated technology. Contact Star Trac for a quote.
SOLE treadmills started out as a commercial vendor for hotel gyms. They now also include treadmills for home use with high quality features and speeds up to 12 miles per hour. Prices for personal treadmills start at $999.
ProForm treadmills are designed to help runners of all abilities reach their fitness goals, with treadmills that can perform at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. Their treadmills for home use start at $999.
Known for their iconic skier, NordicTrack also manufactures treadmills for a range of needs and athletic abilities. Their incline series treadmills have an industry-leading 40 percent incline. Prices start at $799.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What features matter most when purchasing a treadmill?

Intended use

There are a lot of reasons to own a treadmill, and your particular reason will factor into deciding which treadmill is best for you.

  • Walking: People who want a treadmill for walking can get by with a basic model that isn’t as sturdy as larger, more expensive models. They may be interested in an incline treadmill if their primary purpose for using it is climbing. They also might want to consider a manual treadmill, which is less expensive than a motorized treadmill and is best for walking rather than running.
  • Recreational jogging/light running: People buying a treadmill for light running will want a treadmill that is sturdy enough to handle their tempo and weight.  A treadmill with speeds up to 10 miles per hour should be fine for those who run at a slower speed.
  • Elite running: People who run frequently, fast and/or long distances will want to invest in a treadmill with a wide range of speeds. They will want a sturdy model that can handle the amount of effort they put forth. Cushion is another important consideration for people who plan to run on their treadmill frequently.
  • Walking while working: People who want to stay active while working will enjoy a treadmill desk. These units have a sturdy desk attached to a treadmill to allow for light walking while completing tasks such as checking emails, writing reports and talking on the phone.

Console

Consoles on treadmills vary widely, depending on what features you want. An upgraded console can enhance your workout, but it will also cost you extra. Invest in an upgraded console if you plan on using your treadmill frequently and/or if an upgraded console will motivate you more than a traditional one.

  • Basic: A basic console will include relevant information, including speed, incline, calories burned, time spent exercising and distance. This console is included in basic models and will give you all the information you need to track your progress while walking or running on your treadmill.
  • Entertainment console: A console designed for entertainment will include all the features of a basic console, along with additions to keep you entertained during your run. These features vary by company and can include a tablet holder, speakers and a built-in TV.

Motor

The motor on the treadmill is important, especially for avid runners who need a motor with a lot of power. A lower motor will work fine for walkers and light joggers. People who weigh more will also want a higher motor to ensure proper support.  A good rule of thumb is to increase the horsepower (HP) by .5 if you weigh 200 pounds or more. It’s ok to use a treadmill with a higher HP than you ideally need, but do not sacrifice HP in the name of a lower price.

  • 2.0 HP: This type of motor can be found on budget treadmills and treadmills specifically for walkers. It will work fine and give you the support you need for your daily walks.
  • 2.5 HP: This is the minimum HP you need if you plan on jogging regularly on your treadmill. You can get a treadmill with a higher HP if you prefer, but do not drop below 2.5.
  • 3.0 HP: This is the minimum HP your treadmill should be if you are a runner. Increase your HP if you are an elite runner and/or if you plan on using your treadmill for long runs to ensure you have the support you need.
  • 4.0+ HP: Commercial grade treadmills are generally 3.0-4.0 HP. These are the types of treadmills you will find in a large fitness center or gym.

Integrated technology

Many treadmills integrate technology to allow for a total user experience. These technological advances enable users to track their progress, monitor their weight loss and connect with mobile apps. Users can log in when they have a registered account, even if they are using a piece of equipment in a gym or other fitness facility.

  • iFit: iFit is a popular fitness program that tracks progress on fitness equipment at home and at the gym. It connects to Google maps to give users the experience of running anywhere in the world, without leaving their home. iFit is available on select brands, and premium memberships are available.
  • Brand specific technology: Several brands have their own version of iFit that allows users to keep track of their fitness progress, log nutrition information and more.
  • Workout programs: Most treadmills include pre-programmed workouts to give users a range of options when it comes to varying their workout. A manual feature is also an option, for users who want total control over the incline, speed and timing of a workout.

Additional features

There are a lot of components to a treadmill, and these additional features will have varying weights of importance to each user. Determine which of these features are important when you are shopping for a treadmill to narrow down your options and find the best one for your home or gym.

  • Cushion: The cushion, or support, of your treadmill is important, especially if you are planning on using your treadmill extensively. Having too little cushion can lead to pains and injuries, so it’s worth paying extra money for a treadmill with an appropriate level of cushion.
  • Incline: Increasing the incline of your treadmill is a fast way to achieve results, whether you are a walker, jogger or runner. If you are serious about incline, look for a treadmill with incline up to 20 percent. Another option is an incline trainer, which is designed specifically for walking up a steep incline. Some treadmills also include a decline, for users who want the experience of running downhill.
  • Storage: Some treadmills are designed for easy storage, by folding up quickly and easily. If saving space is important to you, make sure to look for a folding treadmill. Note that these treadmills may not be easy to roll away, so you will still need a dedicated spot in your home to store them, even while they’re folded.

Belt and deck size

Treadmill tracks come in different sizes, with lengths ranging from 45 to 62 inches and widths ranging from 16 to 22 inches. Different treadmill sizes work best for different uses, like running or walking, and the user’s body size. The size treadmill you choose will depend on your body size and your intended use. Pay attention to both the width and the length measurements when choosing a treadmill. Note that the recommended sizes are for average adults, so if you are tall and/or run with long strides, you will want to look for a longer treadmill than what is recommended.

  • Walking treadmills: Treadmills designed specifically for walkers tend to have a length ranging from 45 to 55 inches. Ideally, you will choose a treadmill with a length of 55 inches. Their width should be at least 18 inches. Only buy a treadmill with a track this length if you intend to use it strictly for walking, as you will find it does not provide adequate space for running or jogging.
  • Jogging treadmills: If you intend to use your treadmill for jogging and/or light running, look for one that is at least 20 inches wide and at least 54 inches long.
  • Running treadmills: Treadmills for serious runners should be at least 58 inches long and 22 inches wide. This size will give you the room you need to run comfortably without hitting your feet on the sides or front of the treadmill.

What are different types of treadmills?

Incline treadmills

Incline treadmills are designed with climbers in mind. While most treadmills have the capability to incline up to 10 or 12 percent, incline treadmills have a steeper incline, up to 40 percent. These are ideal for users looking for an intense climbing workout.

Manual treadmills

Manual treadmills are generally the most cost effective treadmills, however, they can also be frustrating to use. These treadmills are powered by the user’s movements, which means the user needs to keep a consistent pace to keep the belt moving. Incline needs to be changed manually, which means the user will need to step on and off the treadmill during their workout if they want to adjust the incline. One positive feature of manual treadmills is that they can be safer than motorized treadmills since they stop as soon as the user stops.

Motorized treadmills

Most treadmills on the market are motorized, meaning they move automatically with a motor. These can range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on which additional features are added.

Folding treadmills

Folding treadmills are a nice option for people who want to save space when their treadmill is not in use. These can be shorter than non-folding treadmills, so they might not work for runners who are tall and/or who take long strides during their workout.

Non-folding treadmills

Non-folding, or traditional, treadmills are generally larger and heavier than folding treadmills. Generally, gyms and fitness centers use non-folding treadmills, since they do not need to worry about additional storage space. Their extra length can be a benefit for tall runners and runners who take long strides.

Desk treadmills

Desk treadmills are designed for office workers to walk at a slow to moderate pace while they work. They have a sturdy desk attached to the front of the treadmill, allowing users to use their laptops while walking. Because they are designed for walking, they do not have a high speed.

Who's it for?

Avid runners

Avid runners will want to take the time to try out several different types of treadmills before buying one. They will want to make sure the treadmill they choose has a high enough incline and speed for their needs, and they also will want a treadmill with enough cushion for comfort and injury prevention. It is worth it for avid runners to pay extra money to get a treadmill with all the features they need since they will be using it regularly.

Recreational runners

Recreational runners will want a treadmill designed for running, and they will want to try out several treadmills before buying one. Their focus should be on cushion, incline and speed. They may want extra features such as a built-in TV on the console to keep them entertained as they run.

Walkers

Walkers can spend less money on a treadmill than runners, since they don’t need a treadmill with extra support. They may want to consider an incline treadmill if they are going to be primarily climbing. If they are considering transitioning from walking to running, they will want to invest in a treadmill that is sturdy enough to support running.

Health club owners

Health club owners will want to provide treadmills that will keep their clients happy. They may want to invest in a variety of treadmills and treadmill consoles to give their clients variety.

Desk workers

Desk workers who have an office with enough space for a desk treadmill may want to consider this option as a way to burn calories at work and stay on their feet instead of sitting at their desk all day. Some offices have desk treadmills that anyone can use throughout the day, making this a cost efficient way to improve employee morale and add an extra perk to the office.

Company reviews

  • Nautilus Treadmills

    An innovator of fitness equipment, Nautilus was founded in 1986 as Bowflex. They formerly sold commercial-grade fitness equipment and now focus on selling fitness equipment, including treadmills, for home use.

    • Best for Nautilus treadmills are best for fitness enthusiasts looking for a high quality treadmill with online tracking capabilities.
  • NordicTrack Treadmills

    Known for their iconic skier machines, NordicTrack began manufacturing treadmills in the late 1990s. They have a variety of treadmills for consumer and commercial use, including their incline trainer, which has a 40 percent incline, and their treadmill desks, which allow users to work while burning calories and staying active.

    • Best for NordicTrack treadmills are best for walkers, joggers and runners.
  • Precor Treadmills

    Precor has been making fitness equipment for commercial and personal use for over 30 years. Their treadmills are mainly designed for commercial use, making them a great option for owners of fitness centers and health clubs around the world.

    • Best for Precor treadmills are best for commercial fitness facilities.
  • Life Fitness Treadmills

    Life Fitness has been developing fitness solutions for commercial and residential users for over 45 years. They started making treadmills in 1991 and are available commercially in three series: Elevation, Integrity and Activate.

    • Best for Life Fitness treadmills are best for desk workers, recreational runners and fitness club owners.
  • ProForm Treadmills

    ProForm has been engineering fitness equipment for over 30 years. Their treadmills are designed for both gym and home use, with prices starting at $999. ProForm has a treadmill for every level of runner.

    • Best for ProForm treadmills are best for walkers, runners and elite runners.
  • SOLE Treadmills

    SOLE Treadmills started out as a hotel vendor, selling treadmills to Hilton and other similar hotel chains. These treadmills were so popular with people who used them at hotels that the company decided to manufacture similar equipment for home use.

    • Best for SOLE treadmills are best for consumers looking for a high-quality treadmill for home use.
  • Weslo Treadmills

    Weslo offers budget-friendly treadmills for home users who are looking for a basic treadmill for walking and light running along with advanced treadmills with enhanced features. Buy their products online with prices starting at $399.

    • Best for Weslo treadmills are best for walkers and recreational runners who need a budget-friendly treadmill for home use.
  • HealthRider Treadmills

    The HealthRider fitness system became popular in the 1990s as an alternative to high-impact cardio equipment. Today, the company manufactures ellipticals, bikes and treadmills for home use.

    • Best for HealthRider treadmills are best for individuals looking for an at-home treadmill at an affordable price.
  • Star Trac Treadmills

    Star Trac is a multinational fitness company that makes cardio, strength training and group training fitness equipment for commercial use. They also provide solutions for fitness facilities, including help with design and planning a new fitness center.

    • Best for Star Trac treadmills are best for fitness facilities looking for high quality fitness equipment with integrated technology.