A treadmill can be a very effective piece of exercise equipment for your home. Originally invented back in 1818 to punish prisoners the treadmill now has become one of the most popular cardio machines.
If you want to experience the effectiveness of a treadmill at the comfort of your home then going online to buy one seems like a good option. Except, there are a lot of different models. In this article, you will discover which are the best treadmills for home use. Let's dive into it!
An Overview Of Our Top 5 Picks:
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Reviews - overview
Entry-level (our top picks)
The treadmills which we define as ‘entry-level treadmills’ are mainly suited for people who are just about to start on their journey to fitness. These treadmills are good for walking or jogging. You could use them for running, but they tend to have; a relatively small workout area, less stability and fewer features than most mid-range and high-end treadmills, which is why they are less suited for running.
The upside of entry-level treadmills is that they tend to be easier to store. This is due to their relatively low product weight and smaller assembled dimensions. So they might also be a good choice if you have little room.
Mid-range (our top picks)
The treadmills which we refer to as ‘mid-range treadmills’ are suited for a variety of users. They can be used for walking, jogging and running. However, they might not fit every serious runner's needs.
Most of the mid-range treadmills have quite a lot of features. Typical features for these treadmills are; the ability to measure your heart rate with a wireless heart rate monitor, an automatic incline and a backlit LCD-display. These treadmills have features which might be useful for those who want to use their machine for running or intensive and frequent walking.
High-end (our top 6 favorites)
Lastly, the models which we call ‘high-end treadmills’ are most suited for runners and serious runners. Most of these models have a relatively; large deck, a powerful motor and good cushioning.
Some of the higher-end treadmills have commercial-grade features which make them more appealing for frequent and higher intensity use. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have more features, but the quality of the features tends to be higher.
When space is scarce, a small model could be an appealing option. Smaller treadmills tend to be best suited for walking and jogging or running at a low pace because they usually don’t have high-quality features.
Due to their small build, most of these treadmills are easy to fold and unfold. This makes them a good choice for the lower intensity users who want to save as much room as possible.
A heavy or obese person has to pay extra attention to the maximum weight capacity. Exceeding the limit could cause damage to the machine.
Additionally, heavier individuals and those who suffer from obesity probably should care a bit more about the cushioning system. A good cushion system can reduce the impact on your joints. Another way to create more cushioning is by making use of a treadmill mat. Plus, it can reduce noise, which is especially helpful if you want to place your treadmill in an appartement.
If you want to walk on an incline, then you might consider buying a manual machine. These treadmills usually don’t have a lot of features, but they could also help you to achieve your fitness goals.
Just be aware of the fact that you are the one that will have to set it in motion because these treadmills don’t have a motor. That’s why these treadmills usually have some degree of incline. The combination of your movement on the belt and the incline is what makes a manual machine move. So they may only be worth considering if you are prepared to train on an incline.
If you're looking for electric treadmills with an incline instead, I recommend to read the following article about the best incline treadmills for home use.
What are the most important features to consider?
Before you are ready to make a decision, it’s important to understand that there are a few features which you might want to consider. What these features will be, mainly depends on the way you want to use your machine.
If you want to use it solely for walking then you might have other needs then those who want to use their machine for running. So it’s up to you if you want to consider the following features or not.
Walking and Running surface
If you are a small person who wants to use the machine mainly for walking, then the track size of the belt isn’t something you should pay a lot of attention to. But, if you want to use it for running then it’s certainly more important.
The running surfaces for home treadmills come in a wide variety of sizes. Most tracks for runners have an approximate length of 60” and a track width of 20”. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that all running surfaces have these exact measurements, nor does it mean that you’ll need a track of this size. Which surface size suits you the most will mainly depend on your stride length. The stride length of a longer person tends to be higher, but this isn't always the case.
The running surfaces for home treadmills come in a wide variety of sizes. Most tracks for runners have an approximate length of 60” and a track width of 20”, which is a good size for running. However, this apparently doesn’t mean that all running surfaces have these exact measurements, nor does it mean that you’ll need a track of this size. Which surface size suits you the most will mainly depend on your stride length.
Heart Rate Monitoring
There are three main ways to keep track of your heart rate. Most treadmills have built-in metal pulse grips. Some have a thumb sensor. Another way of measuring your heart rate is with a wireless chest strap, which isn't one of the more standard features.
The built-in pulse grips give you an idea of your current heart rate. It’s important to understand that these tend to give you an IDEA of your heart rate, they are usually not 100 percent accurate. The same goes for a thumb sensor which can measure your pulse from your finger.
A more precise way to measure your heart rate is by making use of a wireless chest strap transmitter. The transmitter connects with the console, which then shows your heart rate. The downside of this might be that it feels uncomfortable. The upside is the fact that you are always aware of your current heart rate.
Workout programs are one of the most typical computer features. In most cases, the exercise program automatically changes the speed and incline. These programs are useful to vary your training.
The number of programs and the kind of programs is something that can greatly differ. Examples of typical workout programs are;
- Weight loss programs which are designed to burn calories in an efficient way. The more advanced models will have the ability to train at your ‘fat burning zone’ or ‘cardio zone’. To use a program specially designed for weight loss you normally need to wear a chest strap. Keep in mind that calorie counters on treadmills might be a bit inaccurate.
- Interval workouts, especially high intensity interval workouts, increase your fitness level in an efficient way by alternating high and low-intensity exercise. During an interval exercise, the pace and incline will vary a lot.
- Incline workouts are very similar to interval workouts. They incorporate an incline to increase the intensity of your training. This can help to build muscles and increase your endurance faster.
- Heart rate controlled workouts keeps you training at a particular heart rate. Not too high or not too low. If your heart rate gets too high, it will automatically lower the intensity. If your heart rate drops then the workout computer will automatically increase the intensity.
- Custom programs allow you to set up your personal training program. You can usually customize every part of the workout, like; time, incline and speed. Custom training programs are a particularly useful function for serious runners who want to take control of every part of their workout without manually adjusting the pace or incline. It's a great way to train for something like a 5k.
- Some treadmills have the ability to connect with iFit. This a useful tool to keep track of your workout activities. It's also useful to create custom workout programs.
If you want to keep track of your progress, then you might be interested in connecting your machine with an app or manufacturers website. There are treadmills which allow you to upload your workout stats manually or automatically to an app or website. This is helpful to keep you motivated, as you can track your progress. Or can help you to prepare for a running race.
If you have to upload your progress manually, then this usually means you need to use an USB-stick which can be quite a hassle.
You will usually have to input an USB-stick into the console and take it out after you finish your training. Then you'll manually need to upload the data from the USB-stick onto your personal computer.
Some treadmills automatically upload your workout stats via WiFi or a Bluetooth connection with your phone or tablet which is a less time-consuming way.
For most people, an easy-to-read LCD-display(s) will be important. It gives you useful information about your workout, like; time, distance, speed and calories burned. What is an easy-to-read LCD-display and what is not, will differ from one person to another.
Additionally, you may want to think about the lighting in the room. If there isn’t a lot of light, then a backlight on the display screen could be the difference between a readable or unreadable screen.
Another noteworthy point is the fact that some LCD-displays don’t show all of the information at once. These displays show your workout stats in a particular sequence, or you’ll have to push a button before you see the rest of the information which might be annoying.
The motor is one of the more important aspects. Because, after all, it is the engine which powers the belt. There are two ways the power of a motor can be specified. Either in HP, which stands for Horse Power. Or, CHP which stands for Continuous Horse Power.
Usually, you’ll only see CHP, as it is the most logical way to describe it. CHP gives you an idea of how much power the motor can produce on a Continuous basis. HP just gives you the maximum amount of HP the motor can produce.
You might wonder how much CHP you need. Well, this will depend on your workout intensity and your weight. The more intense you want to exercise and the more you weigh, the stronger motor you’ll need. To give you an estimate; 2 CHP for walkers, 2.5 CHP for joggers and 3 CHP for runners.
Your need for speed will usually be satisfied. Most treadmills have maximum speed limits of up to 10 Miles Per Hour; some even have higher speed limits of up to 12 Miles Per Hour. Which makes speed one of these things you usually don’t have to worry about. Unless you really want to speed up things.
However, this doesn’t mean that checking the maximum speed isn’t important. There are some treadmills on the market that have set their maximum speed to 4-6 Miles Per Hour. The models that have a relatively low maximum speed are usually models for specific groups of individuals, like; people who are overweight or people who need to recover from an injury.
Treadmills can have a lot of extras. Some treadmills even have a WiFi-connection to stream movies or music directly to your treadmill’s console. However, this is more of a commercial-type extra.
A more common extra is the ability to connect your MP3-player, Ipad or another device to listen to music. Some speakers work better than others. So if this important to you then it’s recommended to read the reviews carefully.
A fan is another possibly helpful extra that can provide you with extra comfort. Some fans are even adjustable. Which usually means you can vary the speed and sometimes turn the fan a bit.
Additionally, you might want to think about a tablet holder or a water bottle holder. Most tablet holders are attached to the top side of the console. This makes it easier to watch a movie or anything else you want to watch. A water bottle holder is especially useful if you want to exercise for a longer period (more than 1 hour).
Not really a feature, but important nonetheless. Each model has got a certain warranty period. The higher end machines usually have a longer warranty period than the entry-level models.
There’s not really something you need to look out for, but just be aware of the difference between different models. Different parts usually have different warranty periods. They are regularly split between; the frame, motor, parts and labor.
If you are in doubt between 2 different comparable treadmills, then the warranty period could be a decisive factor.
A safe workout is essential; you don’t want to get injured during your workout. Almost all treadmills have a safety key attached somewhere to the console. If you clip this to your clothing, then the belt will automatically stop if you slip. It’s strongly advised to use the safety key at all times, especially if you're a beginner!
Other safety features are;
- An anti-slip belt. These belts are designed to give you more grip and prevent you from slipping.
- Make sure to lubricate your treadmill every once in a while.
- Extra wide sides. If you suddenly have to step off the belt, then an extra wide side might be useful.
- Extra long handlebars. Some treadmills have relatively short handlebars which make it difficult to hold on to them while other models have especially long handlebars. It isn’t recommended to keep holding on to the handrails during your training. Just use it for balance.
- Make sure the belt is tight enough.
- A large pause/stop button. In the case of emergency, you may want to pause or suddenly stop your training. An extra large pause or stop button can help you to push the button more quickly.
- A code lock can prevent non-authorized users from using the machine. This might be important for you if you have children.
- Also make sure you clean your treadmill after a certain time period!
How to use the machine correctly & safely? (7 easy steps)
For your own safety, here's more in-depth information on how to use the treadmill correctly :
In this video, a personal trainer explains what you need to do to start with your workout.
The video is good and useful, but there are some extra steps that we think are important as well. So here are the steps that you should take:
- Before you start your first exercise, you have to determine what your goals are. They could be; preparing for a marathon, lose a certain amount of weight or train for your very first 5k run. It’s important to write your goals down. Writing your goals down will help you stay motivated.
- Determine your fitness level. You may be new to fitness, or you might be an experienced athlete. It doesn't matter at which level you currently are. All you’ll need it for is to choose the correct speed and time!
- Before you start, it’s important to stretch. Some basic stretches are usually enough to loosen your muscles. A good example of basic stretches is lifting your knees while walking. Also, loosen up your arms by swinging your left and right arm. 10 of these at a slow speed are usually enough to loosen up your joints and muscles.
- Attach the safety clip to your shirt. The safety clip usually has a red color. The safety clip will make sure that the belt stops when you fall off.
- In contradiction to popular belief, it’s safer to start with your feet on the sides instead of on the belt. Once your feet are on the sides, you can press the ‘start’ button. When the belt starts to move it’s time to place your feet on the belt one foot at a time.
- During your warm-up, you don’t want to overstretch. If you’re new to fitness, you may want to start with a small incline of up to 3 percent. Those who are more advanced can start with an incline of up to 7 percent. If you’re an athletic person, then it’s fine to start with an incline of up to 15 percent. Try out what incline feels comfortable to start with and what doesn’t.
- After you’ve set the incline, it’s time to determine the speed. Remember you’re still warming up your body. For those who are new, start with a speed of up to 3 Miles Per hour. A fit person could start with a speed of up to 7 MPH. An experienced user can set the speed during the warm-up to 10 MPH.
Advice for beginners
If you’re completely new to fitness or if it’s the first time then we recommend to;
- Talk to your doctor or fitness coach if you have physical problems. He or she can tell you if it’s safe for you to start. Plus, they can tell you if you should start with walking or if you can start with running as well.
- Buy good running shoes. Running shoes are an essential part of a safe workout. Go to a store that can determine your running style. They know which running shoe will suit your running style the best. A good running shoe should have excellent cushioning and enough room for your toes. Start to wear them during the day. Wearing your shoes during the day will help you decide if it’s the right fit and get used to your new shoes.
- Read the manual before you even start. Reading a manual can be a bit boring. But, it’s important to make sure that you follow all the safety instructions in the manual. For example, the machine has to be placed on a flat surface and must be stable. An uneven surface might damage the belt, or in the worst case, it might cause an accident. So make sure yours is even before you turn it on.
- Familiarize yourself with all the controls. The start and stop button being the most important buttons. Familiarize yourself with the; speed and incline, entertainment options and other control buttons. If things are going too fast, then the speed and incline buttons are essential to make quick changes. So you will want to make sure that you’re aware of all the options.
- If your treadmill belt is slipping you should fix it as soon as possible. A slippery belt is very dangerous, because it might cause you to fall off the machine!
What are the benefits?
As we all know exercising is good for your health. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults who exercise at least 150 minutes per week can drastically improve their health. In most cases, the more you exercise, the more it will benefit your health. So get moving, but don’t overdo it.
Walking and running in particular, can improve your well-being. Some of the benefits of running are:
- It will make you feel happier. Running produces endorphins which are a response to your physical discomfort. Amongst runners, this feeling is also called the ‘runner’s high’. You are likely to experience the runner’s high during and shortly after your run. People who are active tend to have; less anxiety, better moods and have more feelings of well-being.
- If you follow the advice of the U.S. Departement of Health and Human Services to have at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, your life expectancy will increase by 3.4 - 4.5 years on average. Even brisk walking is enough to meet the standards.
- It helps you get fit and stay fit. Rick Hall, a registered dietitian, says that someone who runs on a regular basis will usually have; lower blood cholesterol levels, improved blood circulation and a better self-esteem.
- As an older adult, it will help you stay mentally fit. Regular exercise like running slows down age-related mental decline. It improves brain functions, like; selective attention, switching tasks and working memory. And there’s more. There are several studies which have shown that seniors who are fit score better in mental tests than older adults who aren’t. I recommend reading this article: best treadmills for seniors citizens, if you're looking for treadmills which are suitable for older people.
- Running strengthens your knees. A lot of people still think running is bad for your knees, well it could be, but only if you already have bad knees. According to research, runners who never had knee problems have a lower chance of developing arthritis compared to people who don't exercise on a regular basis. A logical explanation for this could be that runners tend to have a lower body weight. So they will put less pressure on their knees during their daily activities.
Walking and running are forms of exercise that you can do outside. But, there are a few good reasons why you may want to use a treadmill instead of going outside. There are specific benefits of using a treadmill compared to other types of fitness equipment like a exercise bike or an elliptical. Let’s take a look.
It's good for weight loss
A treadmill is good for weight loss, which is good news for heavy or obese people who want to use their machine to burn calories. How many calories you’ll burn, depends on a lot of factors. Your physical condition, weight, age and body weight are a few important factors that will influence how many calories you’ll burn.
Another major factor is your workout intensity. When you are walking you burn less calories than when you’re running. You can also choose to increase your exercise intensity by increasing the incline.
A popular way to increase the amount of calories you’ll burn is by doing interval training. During an interval training, you will burn more calories than most standard forms of cardio.
There’s a lot of debate going on about which cardio machine burns the most calories. Like we said, it will depend on a lot of factors. So it’s almost impossible to say if it's the best cardio machine for weight loss.
What we do know is that walking or running on a treadmill is a good way to burn calories. Only 20 minutes of running on a treadmill at 6 Miles Per Hour burns about 229 calories. Walking for 20 minutes at 3 Miles Per Hour burns around 219 calories. The exact amount of calories burned depends on a lot of factors. These figures you give you an idea about the effectiveness of using a treadmill for weight loss.
The weather doesn’t stop you
Luckily, there a lot of things in life that you can control. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t one of them. Hot weather or a cold and rainy day could stop you from walking or running outside. Some people don’t get influenced by the weather and still go outside no matter what.
If inclement weather is something that withholds you from exercising outdoors, then a treadmill can be an excellent alternative. So you won’t have an excuse anymore for not working out.
Additionally, there’s the safety aspect. Running on a belt could even be safer than running outside during the winter. If the temperature drops below zero the quality of the roads might be affected by the weather. You won’t be the first one who gets injured because of a slippery street. So that’s why it might be better to choose the treadmill as an alternative on those days.
You’re in control
You can control a lot of aspect of your workout. The most useful are the speed and incline. Usually, you can change these at the touch of a button.
When you’re walking or running outside, it’s much harder to control your speed. Of course, you could use a fitness app with a GPS option. But, depending on the quality they could be less accurate, and it tends to be harder to keep your desired pace. Whether you will be able to run or walk on an incline depends on the area you live in. These are things you won't have to worry about on a treadmill.
Running on a treadmill Vs. Running Outside
Both running outside and treadmill running have their advantages and disadvantages. You might wonder if it’s better to run on a treadmill as opposed to running outside. The short answer; it differs from one person to another.
A Canadian study from the University of Calgary by Nigg, De Boer, and Fischer examined the kinematic differences between treadmill running and overground running. What they found was that on a treadmill the runners landed with a flatter feet than overground.
Other than that, there wasn’t a lot of consistency between the body motion of the individual runners. It varied based on their; running speed, running shoes, running style and which treadmill was being used.
The Canadian study most likely indicates that there isn’t a lot that you can say about how your body adapts to running on a treadmill. Some users might find that running outside has less impact on their body, while others might find that treadmill running has more impact on their body.
But, this doesn’t mean that running outside is the same as running on a treadmill. The wind, uneven roads and obstacles are a few things that you could encounter during an outdoor run.
According to a study by Jones and Doust, running on a treadmill is easier than running outdoors, because you don’t have any air resistance while walking indoors. So it will cost you less energy. They found that running at a 1% incline almost costs the same amount of energy as outdoor running. So runners, if you want to simulate outdoor running then run at an incline of at least 1 percent.
Now that you know which treadmills for home use are a good choice, it’s up to you to make a final decision. We would like to give all you personal buying advice, but that isn’t possible. That’s why we did our best to provide you with this in-depth article so that we can help as many people as possible.
The treadmills below are the treadmills that we recommend. We have divided them into two different groups, because a model for walking requires different features than a model for runners.
In our opinion, the Weslo Cadence G 5.9 is the best model for walking. The 16” by 50” inch belt, the 2.25 HP motor and the comfort cell cushioning system make this machine suitable for a comfortable walk. Furthermore, it weighs 119 pounds which is relatively lightweight. The relatively low weight makes it easier to fold and move the machine.
Furthermore, in our opinion, the ProForm Power 995i is the best model for running. The 3.0 CHP motor, the 20” by 60” running track and the 30 preset workouts are probably good enough for most runners. Plus, it has an incline of up to 15 percent, which gives you the ability to train at quite a steep level of incline. That’s why we recommend the 995i.