Best Treadmills of 2018

Working out on a treadmill is an excellent aerobic activity—plus you can exercise no matter the weather. Find the best treadmill to enhance your fitness routine.

Your Guide to the Best Treadmills

We all know that running is an effective, heart-pounding workout, but battling the elements when you run outdoors is no fun at all. With a treadmill in your home gym, you'll have no excuse not to fit in a run.

Choosing a treadmill for your home can be tricky, though. There are so many treadmills on the market that sorting through all the options can get frustrating fast. You need to know what to look for in terms of size, motor power, the console, and other features to make sure that you wind up with the best treadmill for your running routine.

At BestReviews, we make shopping easy. We do the product research for you, so you only have to focus on the key features to make the most educated shopping decisions. And since we never accept promotional products in exchange for a good review, you can always trust our recommendations.

In the market for a new treadmill? You can find BestReviews' top three picks in the matrix above. For in-depth tips on selecting a treadmill, our shopping guide has all the information you need.

For the most balanced workout, do interval training on your treadmill. Alternate running at a slower speed with an incline and a faster speed with no incline.

Benefits of Having a Treadmill at Home

There are many reasons why a treadmill is a great addition to any home gym.

  • Convenience: With a treadmill in your home, you can run or walk regardless of the weather or time of day. That means you can stay in shape all winter long and fit in a late-night run with no excuses.
  • Safety: Running on a treadmill is usually a lot safer than running on the street. You don't need to worry about keeping an eye out for cars, potholes, animals, or other people, so you can just focus on your run. You'll also limit your sun exposure.
  • Privacy: Some people are uncomfortable working out in public, particularly if they're new to a fitness routine. With a treadmill, you can run in the privacy of your own home without worrying about anyone watching.
  • Entertainment: When you run or walk around the neighborhood, you have to pay attention to your surroundings. With a treadmill at home, you can watch TV or blast your favorite music to keep you motivated to work out longer.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Just like running outdoors, working out on a treadmill is excellent aerobic activity, which strengthens your heart.
  • Weight Loss: If you're trying to shed a few pounds, a treadmill is a great tool. You can burn serious calories running on a treadmill for 30 minutes just three times a week.

Warm up for a treadmill workout by walking for five minutes first. Do the same at the end of your workout to cool down.

What is a Manual Treadmill?

Manual Treadmills
A manual treadmill doesn't have a motor, so the belt moves with the motion of your feet. Manual treadmills don't offer quite the same workout as motorized treadmills and they are usually best for walking, but they can work well in small spaces. Manual treadmills are also less expensive and cost less to operate because they don't require electricity. These treadmills make very little noise when in use, too, so you don't have to worry about disturbing your family or neighbors.

Motorized Treadmills
A motorized treadmill has a motor that moves the belt under your feet and maintains the pace for you. You can adjust the treadmill's speed and incline while you're running on a motorized model, and there is typically a wide range of preset programs to choose from to guide your workout.

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Don't Forget the Water

Keep water within reach when you're on a treadmill to make sure that you stay properly hydrated.

Finding the Right Treadmill for You: Features to Consider

Size
Treadmills are fairly large pieces of exercise equipment. Most are approximately 77 inches long and 35 inches wide, so they take up quite a bit of space. For walking, you want a belt at least 50 inches in length, while runners usually prefer at least 60 inches. Measure the area where you plan to place the treadmill to make sure you have enough room.
If you don't have much space to spare, consider a folding treadmill. The deck folds upright, which makes it much easier to store.

Motor
If you're buying a motorized treadmill, it's important to choose a model with an appropriate motor. In most cases, a motor that offers 2.0 continuous horsepower (CHP) or higher is sufficient for walking. If you plan to use it for mainly running or jogging, look for a treadmill with a 3.0 CHP motor or higher.

Hand and Foot Rails
Treadmills usually have handrails at the front and sides to help with balance; some are padded for greater comfort. You should also keep an eye out for the foot rails alongside the belt. They should be wide and flat, so you can easily get on and off the treadmill.

Console and Controls
Most treadmills have a console that houses the controls and tracks key information during your workouts. Look for a treadmill with a clear, easy-to-read display that keeps track of multiple stats, including distance, speed, incline, calories burned, and heart rate. It's also important to choose intuitive control buttons that are clearly labeled and allow you to easily adjust the speed and incline while you're running.
Higher-end treadmills usually include extra features on the console to enhance your workout. Some offer speakers and USB ports to allow you to listen to music from your phone or other devices, while others have a fan to keep you cool as you run.

Speed
Motorized treadmills offer a range of speeds, which determine how fast the belt moves. Most treadmills can go up to 10 or 12 miles per hour, so they work well for nearly all walkers and runners.

Incline/Decline
Many motorized treadmills feature an adjustable incline that allows you to raise the running bed at an angle to simulate running or walking uphill. This can be a key feature if you're looking to lose weight or build muscle because uphill running or walking burns more calories and targets muscles in the hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Some treadmills also have an adjustable decline feature that allows you to lower the running bed at an angle to simulate walking downhill. The downhill movement targets other parts of the body, including the hips and knees, which may be helpful to some users.
For the most convenient workouts, make sure to choose a treadmill that allows you to adjust the incline or decline while you're on the treadmill.

Heart Rate Monitor
Many treadmills offer a heart rate monitor, so you can hit your target heart rate zones for a more effective workout. The monitor is usually located on the hand grips beside the console, which you hold to get a heart rate reading on the treadmill's display.

Preset Programs
Some treadmills feature preset programs for varied workouts. The programs usually target specific goals, such as weight loss or endurance, and adjust the treadmill's speed and incline automatically, so you can keep running or walking without worrying about pressing any buttons.
Some treadmills offer up to 30 trainer programs to provide plenty of variety for your workouts. Higher-end treadmills even allow you to simulate runs on famous trails or courses, such as the Boston Marathon course, with images on the display screen to make the experience more immersive.

Safety Key
Safety is very important on a motorized treadmill because you can be seriously injured if you fall on a treadmill while the belt is moving. All models should have a safety key, which must be properly fitted in the console for the treadmill to operate. You then clip the key to your clothing, so if you fall the key comes loose and the treadmill automatically stops. The safety key can also keep small children from accidentally turning it on.

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Keep Your Head Up

Avoid looking down when you run or walk on a treadmill. You can upset your form and possibly injure yourself.

How Much Should You Pay for a Treadmill?

Treadmills range in price based on type, horsepower, and special features. They generally cost between $80 and $5,000.

  • Budget-Friendly: A manual treadmill with few special features typically runs between $80 and $375. A folding motorized treadmill with a lower horsepower motor and only a few special features typically runs between $200 and $400.
  • Mid-Range: A folding motorized treadmill with an average horsepower motor and several special features typically runs between $400 and $1,000.
  • High-End: A folding motorized treadmill with a high horsepower motor and plenty of special features typically runs between $1,000 and $3,500. A non-folding motorized treadmill with a high horsepower motor and plenty of special features typically runs between $1,000 and $5,000.

Don't hold onto the handrails when you're running or walking on a treadmill. They're only meant to be a safety measure if you lose your balance.

FAQ

Q. How long does a treadmill usually last?
A. It depends on the treadmill's quality. Higher-end treadmills usually have sturdier frames and motors, so they hold up better. Lower-end treadmills with weaker motors and frames, on the other hand, burn out faster. On average, you can expect a treadmill to last seven to 12 years.

Q. Is a non-folding motorized treadmill better than a folding motorized treadmill?
A. Because folding treadmills are designed primarily to save space, some compromises are usually made in their construction when it comes to the stability of the frame and the power of the motor. As a result, non-folding treadmills are usually more durable and powerful.

Q. Is running on a treadmill easier on your body than running outdoors?
A. Running on a treadmill is often easier on your joints because the running surface is softer. The treadmill also absorbs some of the shock, so your joints don't receive the full impact when your feet hit the belt.

If you walk on a treadmill with a decline feature, you can work out your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings.