Would you love to lose weight while scrolling through Instagram in the comfort of your own home? What about improving your endurance while binge-watching your favorite TV show? You can get fit on your own, at home, and without a gym membership via an at-home treadmill.
Treadmills have come a long way over the years, and nowadays treadmills offer more than just stationary running. There are so many brands and types of treadmills out there, but which is the right choice? In this article, you will learn about the best treadmill brands, different treadmill features, how to prioritize your needs with an at-home treadmill, and how to pick a good-quality treadmill that will complement your home gym for years to come.
Why should I invest in a treadmill for my home?
You may wonder if investing in a treadmill is really worth it. There are thousands of YouTube workout videos that offer free cardio exercise online: Aerobics, Zumba, HIIT Training. You could just go to the gym and break a sweat on a variety of exercise equipment, right? Why would an at-home treadmill be a better option, and what can an at-home treadmill do for you?
Aside from the convenience of having the means to get a good workout in at your home, a good quality treadmill can accommodate a variety of exercise needs and will continue to challenge you as you get more fit. That’s the goal, right? Cardio on at-home treadmills is easier on the joints so it can push you to work out harder, workout longer, and lose weight quickly. Plus, once you buy a treadmill, no more monthly gym fees! You own the gym! Keep in mind, however, that with ownership comes more responsibility with maintenance and cleaning. Check out our “Tips” section below for more information about how to properly care for your treadmill.
Types of Treadmills: How to Know Which is Right for You
Understanding the benefits of an at-home treadmill is easy. The hard part: Choosing the best treadmill for you. Different treadmills offer different exercise benefits, different price range, and different space requirements. As you shop for the best treadmills, think about your needs, your current fitness level, and your fitness goals for the future.
If you are new to exercise, just getting 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular activity 3 times a week can have some huge benefits to your health. Just with 20 minutes a day, you can expect to see things like:
- Increased calorie burning
- Improved respiratory health
- Boost in immunity
- Better energy levels
- Management of blood sugar levels
- Better sleep
- Lower blood pressure
As your endurance grows, you can increase your time on the treadmill, getting up to 45 to 60 minutes. The big advantage of having a treadmill at home is that your exercise will not be hampered by days with poor weather, allowing for more consistency with your exercise.
They also design modern treadmills with a better ability to absorb your running or walking stride. This makes them better for those with joint and knee problems. Running outside is great, but the constant impact of the hard roads and sidewalks can lead to issues with your joints, tendons, and ligaments, and the possibility of significant injuries.
Here is a breakdown of popular treadmills and our tips on how to choose the best treadmill for you:
Tried and True: Best Treadmill Brands Over Time
Treadmills like the NordicTrack T Series and Bowflex BXT116 are classic pieces of equipment for home gyms. They give you the option of running any time, and are lower-impact than outdoor running, as well, with a padded tread that’s better on your knees. We’ve reviewed the 5 best treadmills for home fitness below. Check out their features to find the right one for you and your price range!
Best Treadmill for Avid Runners and Athletes
The Horizon T101 is one of the best rated treadmills and most comfortable to run on. This is because it uses a 3-zone system on the deck, with softer cushioning in the impact zone at the front and a firmer running surface in the push-off zone at the back.
Customizing your workout is easy with the Horizon T101 Treadmill. Its 10 speed settings range from .5-10 miles per hour, with an incline option up to 10%. You can also add music easily. Put your device in the built-in holder and connect it to the treadmill’s speakers through Bluetooth for instant workout entertainment.
While the Horizon T101 Treadmill isn’t exactly light, it’s built to be easily to move and store. It folds easily for storage, and has wheels for easier transportation—no lifting required.
- In-depth display includes 10 speed keys and 10 incline keys
- Easy to fold and move
- Good-sized belt with 3-zone variable response cushioning
- Bluetooth compatibility lets you stream music right through the speakers
- Built-in device holder and fan
- Exceptionally quiet operation
- Can be challenging to assemble
- Some users have difficulty connecting to Bluetooth
The Horizon T101 is the best treadmill if comfort is your main concern. It includes 3-zone cushioning on the deck, along with the built-in fan and Bluetooth-ready speakers.
#2 – Bowflex BXT116 Treadmill
Looking for the ultimate home treadmill? You’ll want to check out the Bowflex BXT116. It’s the sturdiest treadmill on the list, with an all-metal frame that won’t shake or tip. The Bowflex BXT116 is the best option for bigger and taller users, too, supporting up to 375 pounds and with a 60” deck that’s longer than most.
The Bowflex JRNY app comes pre-loaded onto their BXT116 Treadmill. You do need to pay a subscription to use it, but most find it worth the money. With the app, you’ll get daily workouts personalized to you, automatically adjusting to your running ability and goals. In addition, there are 9 “push and go” workout programs. You also have the option of saving custom workouts in real-time.
The Bowflex BXT116 can do everything other treadmills do—and then some. Other features include heart monitoring and Bowflex radio, which provides a range of playlists for your workout. The main downsides? It carries a hefty price tag, and it takes up a lot of space. Even folded, it’s a hefty machine.
- Comes with JRNY app for individualized workout programs
- Can create and save custom workouts
- Elevation up to 15%
- Durable all-metal construction
- Long 60” deck
- Supports users up to 375lbs.
- High price
- Large and bulky, even when folded
The Bowflex BXT116 is sturdy and durable, with high-tech touches like personalized workouts. You do pay a premium for the Bowflex name, however, and at over $1,500 it’s not the best value.
Best Treadmill Under $1000
#3 – NordicTrack T Series Treadmills
NordicTrack T Series treadmills combine innovative features with reliable construction. This starts with its SpaceSaver design, which is quick and easy to fold up when you’re finished with your workouts. Though it’s compact, it’s not too small. The 20” by 55” belt is large enough anyone can run comfortably, and it supports users up to 300 pounds.
The display of the NordicTrack T Series has OneTouch controls for adjusting the speed and incline. There’s also an integrated device holder for your phone or tablet. That’s especially helpful for using its iFit app. While it does require a subscription payment, using iFit gives you access to interactive trainer sessions. It will also automatically adjust the treadmill’s incline to match the terrain along its real-world courses.
- Spacious tread belt
- Connects via Bluetooth to iFit for automatic adjustments
- OneTouch include and speed controls
- Comes with interactive trainer-led workout programs
- Quiet operation, even at higher intensities
- Folds up for easy storage
- Using workout programs required paid membership
- Built-in speakers don’t put out much volume
The NordicTrack T Series is well-built but still easy to use and store, with convenient high-tech touches through the iFit app that make it one of the smartest treadmills on the market.
Best Treadmill Under $500
#4 – MaxKare Folding Treadmill
The MaxKare Folding Treadmill is perfect for those who live in small apartments. The space-saving design allows it to be easily folded and moved by one person. Once folded, it’ll fit easily into a closet or corner.
The MaxKare Treadmill’s display might not be as sophisticated as those on other treadmills, but it has everything you need. This includes heart rate monitoring, as well as tracking your speed and running distance. It’s easy to adjust the speed right on the display. There are 3 incline settings, as well, though the angle needs to be adjusted manually on the treadmill’s base.
The tread and motor of the MaxKare Folding Treadmill are smooth and quiet. While the frame may shake slightly at high speeds, it’s durable and resists toppling, despite its low weight. Having said that, it’s designed for smaller users. Larger individuals might find the 17” tread feels a bit cramped, and it’s only rated up to 220 pounds.
- Easy to assemble
- Most compact and portable option
- Backlit screen monitors speed, heart rate, and calories burned
- Comes with 15 workout programs built in
- Great value
- Narrower tread (17”) with lower weight rating (220lbs)
- Incline requires manual adjustment
The MaxKare Folding Treadmill is an affordable option, and the ideal treadmill for apartments and other small spaces.
Best Foldable and Compact Treadmill for Home
#5 – ASUNA Space Saving, Flat Folding Treadmill
Finally, this ASUNA Space Saving Treadmill uses a simpler handrail design to keep it compact without losing any stability. Since it folds up flat, you can easily slide it under your bed when you’re not using it.
Though the display on the ASUNA is smaller, it’s still very useful. You can easily adjust the speed between .6 and 8 miles per hour, and it still tracks important stats like your speed, distance, total time, and calories burned. There are even built-in speakers for you to play your music through.
Something else that’s great about the ASUNA Space Saving Treadmill: it’s ready to go right out of the box. It’s also designed to give you a low-impact workout, with built-in shock absorbers in the running deck.
- Tracks speed, distance, and calories on the 4-window display
- Folds completely flat for storage under other furniture
- Easy to adjust speed
- Includes media port with built-in speakers
- Low-impact tread with shock absorption technology
- No assembly required
- No incline options
- Not as sturdy as other treadmills
The ASUNA Space Saving Treadmill folds completely flat for maximum portability. Its low-impact design makes running more comfortable, though it lacks the incline settings and workout programs of other treadmills.
The Keys to Picking the Best Treadmill for You: Your Checklist Before You Buy
Now that you’re familiar with the best treadmills on the market, you can now make an educated purchase in a treadmill that will be suitable for you years to come. Here’s a checklist of the most important factors in finding the perfect treadmill for you:
- Your Budget: Budget is often the most important factor when choosing large exercise equipment for a home gym. Consumers want to balance cost and convenience to make investing in a treadmill worth it. As detailed in this article, most treadmills cost between $500-$1500, with others exceeding this range. However, as you have seen, more expensive treadmills do not necessarily mean better ratings from customers and better-selling products. The person who wants to get fit at home on a budget can find high-quality treadmills between $200-$500.
- Your Fitness Goals: If running is your life and your passion, you may want to opt for treadmills that have all the bells and whistles to connect your phone and track your running progress. Being able to track your fitness data is a great way to make sure you are progressing with your workouts. As we discussed, some treadmills offer innovative technology to improve the quality and enjoyment of running, whereas others are far more basic for those who want to run and be done! If you like to do low impact workouts and being an elite athlete is not your goal, there are plenty of treadmills to choose from. Remember to consult your doctor before starting any workout routine, including those on your home fitness equipment. Your doctor may be able to help you create fitness goals and prioritize your needs in an at-home treadmill.
- Space and At-Home Footprint: Keep in mind that treadmills can be huge and heavy! Don’t invest in a treadmill that is not suitable for your home, because that will lead to problems during delivery, installation, and everyday living. The best at-home treadmill for you should complement your home gym and your lifestyle.
- What Will Motivate You: Just like almost everything in life, another important key is to understand which treadmill will motivate you to actually start exercising and keep up with it in the future. If you feel you need a treadmill with a TV or music or detailed running stats, make sure you find a treadmill that offers these features. If you think getting a compact treadmill that you can store away when not in use will motivate you to work out more than running outside or running at a gym, that is important to consider. The best workout is the one you will actually do, so find the right piece that inspires you to continuously use it. When it comes to getting results, adherence and consistency are the most important factors.
Tips for How to Care for Your New Treadmill
- To avoid damage and injury to yourself, make sure that you set your treadmill in an open area with at least 2 feet clearance around all sides of the treadmill. This will ensure your safety as well as prevent damage to furniture as you engage the moving parts of the treadmill.
- With treadmill ownership comes your responsibility to clean and maintain the machine. Treadmills require cleaning for both aesthetics and proper hygiene, so it is important to clean the running surface from dust and surface spots as well as disinfect the treadmill. While the treadmill company may offer you their specific cleaning products, you can also make your own treadmill cleaning solutions. Here’s a list of products you can use to clean your treadmill:
- Gym equipment wipes (found in commercial gym equipment stores)
- Disinfecting running surface wipes or aerosol spray (i.e. Lysol)
- Fitness equipment polish (i.e. Spintech)
- Make your own equipment cleaner by combining 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup baking soda, and 2 cups hot water into a spray bottle. Spray this mixture onto the treadmill and wipe dry with a clean towel.
- One thing to keep in mind when cleaning your treadmill: Clean all areas of the treadmill but avoid letting liquid cleaning products seep into the crevasses of the treadmill. The internal electrical equipment in the treadmill can be damaged if wet, so do not over-do the spraying. It is best to use cleaning wipes or lightly spray the treadmill to avoid drips.
- Companies may also offer cleaning and maintenance services for a fee or as part of their warranty, so understand the ongoing financial commitments for treadmill maintenance before you buy.
- Always consult the treadmill’s user manual or call the customer service line for questions regarding the maintenance of your machine. Doing so will ensure your treadmill will operate at its best for years to come.
The Bottom Line on Selecting and Purchasing a Home Treadmill
Everyone can benefit from an at-home treadmill to lose weight, increase cardiovascular endurance, and ultimately become more fit. Once you find the perfect treadmill for you, you will find that a treadmill complements, enhances, and motivates you to reach your fitness goals.
Now that you’ve read this article, the easy part is finding the right treadmill. The harder part: Evaluating your particular needs. Use the checklist above to help you. By following this checklist and choosing your perfect treadmill, you’ll lose the weight and be more fit in no time!
What’s your most important factor in choosing a treadmill? Budget? Small footprint? Cool features? What motivates you to get on your treadmill? Let us know in the comments below.
Most times I’m also wondering if investing in a treadmill is really worth it. I can always go to the gym and break a sweat on a variety of exercise equipment and may get to see some people who I can get motivation from. But the idea of having a means to get a good workout at home, no gym fees and not having to feel like I’m not doing much when I see people panting away on the treadmill is just enough for me to search for a good quality treadmill that can accommodate a variety of exercise needs and will continue to challenge me as I get more fit.
I’ve been reading up on treadmills because I actually plan to buy one. I’ve been long wanting a personal treadmill at home and I had to do my research first hand before going to a physical store. I don’t feel comfortable buying heavy equipment online due to delivery problems and the handling. You’ve made a very good point regarding budget and footprint, the two would actually be my biggest concerns. The C700 Treadmill looks good and in budget but I’m a bit curious about the folding ones, would you consider them to be more fragile than those at higher price points? I’m afraid if that’s a big issue I’d rather invest in something more durable.
Thank you for sharing this information. This will help me make a choice and finally buy a similar equipment.
My gym has a similar track to C700. Nordic has some of the best equipments in the business. Treadmills in general are my favorite machines to use on cardio day!