For the last several decades, treadmills have been the most popular choice for home exercise machines. As fitness fads come and go, and the latest hi-tech exercise machine debuts on a television infomercial, only to fade away a year later, the treadmill always remains.
While the consistent popularity of treadmills has resulted in hundreds of manufacturers continuing to put out products on the market, this has also led to some oversaturation, making it hard to comb through all the choices and narrow it down to your best treadmill options.
We’ve gone ahead and taken care of that for you. In this buying guide, we’ve picked 5 of the best treadmills for 2018, separated into two distinct budget ranges. Included in our picks are some of the best treadmills for home use, the best treadmill for walking, and more.
We’ve also included some helpful buying information that will aid you as you weigh your shopping choices before purchasing.
The Best Treadmills Under $1,000
Winner: NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
The NordicTrack NTL T6.5 S offers the perfect combination of strategic design and advanced, modernized features. Built for the serious runner that wants to not only track progress and make substantial gains, but also control everything with the touch of a button, the T6.5 S is worth every penny.
The T6.5 S is very much a full-sized treadmill, and has a belt size of 20”x55”, providing plenty of room to run freely and retain full running motions, without that bothersome cramped feeling.
Although it’s a large unit, the platform can be quickly folded up and out of the way, giving the treadmill only a small amount of ground coverage when not in use. StrikeZone 4 cell cushioning help provide a softer, stable surface for runners, absorbing the blows of even the heaviest steppers. Large 2.5” rolls allow for quick and easy transport when needed.
Everything on the T6.5 S is adjustable, and that includes speed of under one mph to ten mph and inclines ranging anywhere from 1 to 12. This broad range allows the treadmill to offer a broad range of running scenarios and programs at the touch of a button.
Controls and information are displayed on an integrated screen that keeps track of all your vital information, including distance, heart rate, speed, and plenty more. The screen is clear, backlit and flanked by a number of different one-touch buttons.
The T6.5 S keeps track of many different types of data, and can even use them to create personalized workout plans based on your evolving results. Heart rate can be scanned simply by placing your hands on the front handles when running or walking.
When it comes to innovative and convenient features, the T6.5 S goes above and beyond. The treadmill not only changes speeds with the touch of a button, but it can also raise and lower the incline.
Also, NordicTrack’s FlexSelect cushioning lets you alter the give on the platform from more cushioned and shock-absorbent, to a firmer feel similar to the actual pavement.
The treadmill is iFit compatible, so you can use it to access Google Maps to create runs based off of real locations around the world, along with statistical analysis, workout apps, and more. An Intermix acoustic sound system lets you play your phone or tablet music through integrated speakers.
The NordicTrack T6.5 S would be impressive regardless of the price, but the fact that it’s actually under $700 makes it an even more attractive buy. If you favor brand-name quality integrated with modern technology and added conveniences, the T6.5 S is the best you can get anywhere near this price range.
Runner-Up: Nautilus T614 Treadmill
The Nautilus T614 maintains a fine balance of form and function, offering users all the things they need to be successful in their aerobic fitness journey. Comfort, convenience, and a load of extra features all contribute to what makes the T614 such a great purchase.
The treadmill has a 20”x55” running belt on the platform, which is more than enough needed to maintain a comfortable feel and fluid running motion without feeling constricted. Thick, wide set crossbar tubing allows for balance and support when need, while offering a more stable and secure overall feel.
The T614 is powered by a 2.75 CHP motor and can reach speeds ranging from 0 to 12 mph. The treadmill also has a wide incline capability, letting users choose between 0 and 12 degrees.
An integrated console features a 5”x5” blue backlit screen that is very vibrant and clear, displaying several different stats and statistics about your session, along with averages, goals, and more.
The console is compatible with NautilusConnect, which allows for goal tracking and data exportation to help you reach your fitness milestones. It can also work with Fitness Pal, a popular workout app. Heart rate can be tracked using either the treadmill’s grips or any telemetry device.
The console also has a USB charging port so you can charge your phone or tablet while working out. Even without using other software or apps, the console comes preloaded with 22 programs with plenty of variation. Speed and incline quick access buttons can be found on each side of the screen.
Additional features include integrated acoustic speakers for headphone and earbud-less listening, a fan with three different speeds, and a media stand located on top of the console that lets you position things like magazine and tablets so you can have watching material at an ideal height and location.
It’s easy to see why the Nautilus T614 is one of our favorites. Even without all the added features and designs, this would still be a top-tier treadmill that offers smooth, efficient, and comfortable training. Add the massive amount of conveniences and features, and it truly pushes it into a superior category -- and all for under $850.
The Best Treadmill Under $500
Winner: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 Treadmill
A favorite among buyers looking to keep their purchase below $500, the Sunny Health and Fitness Treadmill provides users as much as it possibly can for the price range. Although slightly smaller than most of the more expensive treadmills, its performance is nearly on par.
The running surface of this treadmill measures 15.75”x48.82”, which is still on the larger side of the spectrum, and offers enough room for full strides in comfort. The running surface can fold up when not in use, and even has a feature that lets it slowly fall back down flat when you release it before use.
A 2.20 peak HP motor can power the treadmill up to 9 mph, and incline adjusters in the rear offer quick moves from 1,2, and 5 degrees in a matter of seconds. Extended handrails on each side provide support when needed.
The console of this treadmill has a wide range of features. The LCD monitor is backlit with a vibrant blue screen, which also has a power saving option. From the console controls, you can choose from 9 different preloaded programs, and also select your designated speed (or manual mode.)
The console can also measure time, distance, calories, and pulse, which is drawn from the side grips when in use. Start, stop, and speed adjusts are conveniently located on each side of the handrails, so you can quickly adjust on the go while maintaining your balance.
And, if you’d like to watch a show or video during your workout, there is a tablet holder located at the top of the console. Cupholders are located on each side of the console as well.
Overall, the Sunny Health and Fitness Treadmill provides the best value you’ll find when keeping the price under $500, and this one barely cracks the $400 range.
Its combination of a larger running surface, plenty of added features, and convenient operation and storage easily makes it one of our favorites on the market, regardless of price.
Runner-Up: Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill
The Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill is an ideal purchase for anyone looking to buy a quality, reputable treadmill on a budget. Its size and features provide users with an extended amount of versatility, in an easy-to-use package that also has a small footprint when not in use.
With a tread belt size of 16”x50”, the R 5.2 offers a comfortable amount of stride clearance, whether you’re walking, jogging, or running. The 16” width is not on the same level of more expensive models, but it is still an ample size for the vast majority of body sizes.
A 2.5HP Impulse motor powers the belt through its many different speed settings with fluid, quiet operation. It can easily handle interval, speed, and endurance training, and has a durable build that requires little maintenance.
For those that require more incline for more intense workouts, the R 5.2 has a manually-adjusted two-position incline setting you can use to add some variety to your training and target specific muscle groups while burning more calories.
The impact is light on the running board, regardless of speed thanks to a Comfort Cell cushioning system in between the frame and board. This reduced impact on joints, and also allows for faster recovery time in between uses. Extended handles provide balance assistance on each side.
The console of the R 5.2 includes a large LCD display that tracks your speed, time length, distance, and also your calories burned, helping you to track progress as you go along.
Six different workouts have been pre-programmed into the console, all picked and designed by a trained fitness expert. There are three specific weight loss programs, and three interval training programs, providing plenty of variety in between.
Adjustments to speed can be made on the console, and a safety key is provided that triggers an automatic shut off if pulled out as well. When you’re done using the R 5.2, just fold it up and insert a pin instantly create more room in your space.
The Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill is easily one of the most popular in this price range, and it’s easy to see why. With its sturdy build, ease of use, compact design, and additional programs and data tracking, this is as much as you can get when staying in a price range of under $350.
Alternative Pick: Exerpeutic TF1000 Treadmill
Not everyone needs a full-on sprint-worthy treadmill for their fitness needs. For those that only require the ability to walk or lightly jog, the Exerpeutic TF1000 Treadmill offers safe, efficient, and comfortable operation, without skimping on the extras and adjustability.
This is not your typical running treadmill that tops out around ten mph. The caters to users that prefer to walk for the most part, while still maintaining comfort, the ability to collapse the unit when not in use, and providing plenty of fitness tracking data in real time.
The TF1000 can accommodate a body weight of up to 400 pounds and offers speeds ranging from 0 to 4 mph, with 0.10 mph increments available with the speed adjustment settings. The treadmill’s belt is 20 inches wide, providing a little extra space for those who may need it.
And while this is a treadmill strictly for walking and light jogging, the TF1000 does offer manual incline controls, which is something you don’t always see with a treadmill in this category. It also has additional cushioning for maximum shock absorption, taking some of the stress off of your joints and feet.
Extended handrails are found on each side, which can be height adjusted for a better fit if needed. The unit comes mostly assembled upon arrival, and only requires that you connect the computer before use.
When not in use, the walking deck can be raised up vertically to create more space, and rolling rear casters allow to yo quickly lift and push the treadmill to a different spot in the room if you’d like.
The speed of the TF1000 can be controlled using the integrated buttons on each handrail, and a safety key is included, which immediately causes the treadmill to stop when detached. The unit will also read your pulse when a hand is placed on either pulse pad located on the rails.
The console utilizes an easy to read LCD screen and displays data such as calories burned, heart rate, total time, total distance, and more. For those with a little ingenuity, the TF1000 is perfect for adding on a custom desk, instantly turning it into a walking desk. This is further backed due to the treadmill’s’ exceptionally quiet operation.
Walking treadmills are generally for those that have more focused fitness needs, and the Exerpeutic TF1000 comes through in all aspects. If you’re someone needing an affordable option for a quiet walking treadmill, or even a converted walking desk, this is easily the most logical buy.
Aspects To Consider When Shopping For A New Treadmill
Treadmills are usually not all that complicated in terms of exercise machines, but they still have a number of traits and characteristics that you should also pay close attention to before buying. Knowing what to look for will ensure you end up with the best treadmill for your needs.
For the majority of treadmill buyers, the size of the unit will make a big difference as to where they can set it up. Whether you’re looking to use it in your living room, or in the corner of your office or spare room, the size is typically going to be one of the first things you’ll look at.
If space isn’t an issue for you, overall size may not matter as much, but there are other things to look at, mainly the running deck of the treadmill. Depending on your body size and stride style, a wider, longer belt may be required.
Most people can get by with a minimum width of 16 inches, but not everyone. Also, unless you want the treadmill taking up a ton of space when not in use, always look for a model that can fold up and out of the way once you’re down. Rolling casters are a great feature as well.
Again, not a significant issue for a lot of buyers, but the weight limit always needs to be double-checked before purchase. If you weigh more than the limit, you risk causing damage to the treadmill, and perhaps even injury.
Most running treadmills will have a weight limit of around 250 pounds while walking treadmills can often reach 400 pounds.
Treadmills are very much simple devices in theory, but it’s always helpful to have some integrated technology to help you along with your training goals. For some, the mere ability to change speeds and inclines is enough for them, but if you need some extra motivation or guidance, training programs can be a major boost.
For some treadmills, these programs can be as simple as varying speeds for certain times, alternating between cooling down, and pushing your heart rate up.
More advanced treadmills are compatible with smartphone training apps, and may even be able to replicate certain terrains from real locations. These treadmills will usually cost more, but to those needing some variety and higher training limits, it’s totally worth it.
The settings on a treadmill can include some different things but often revolve around the different speeds offered. The ability to comfortably change speeds during a run should be paramount to your shopping search.
Settings will either be located on the rails of the treadmill, on the screen and console, or a mixture of both. Some treadmills will even let you alter the incline with a push of a button, or control a fan, and some will allow you modify speeds to change as you run randomly.
This one’s simple. The ability to incline the running surface can make a huge difference in your workouts, both regarding calories burned, and muscle groups being targeted.
Inclining the treadmills gives you more variety in your runs and walks, and lets you control the intensity as well. Most treadmills will have at least two different inclines offered, and more advanced models will have up to 10 inclines, and even let you adjust by tapping a button, rather than adjusting manually.
Treadmills are not cheap for the most part, so it makes sense to buy one that’s in it for the long haul. Always check the manufacturer's warranty to see what’s covered. For reference, a warranty of 10 years on a frame, and two years on parts is always a good place to start.
Data tracking is a crucial component for those looking to track their actual fitness progress as time goes on. This can include both real-time data display, and stored data to reference later.
Most treadmills these days have at least minimal data displays, often including speed, time, distance, and almost always heart rate.
Advanced treadmills will let you store your data and then cross-reference it to following results as you progress, so you can see precisely what gains you are making regarding burned calories, heart rate, and time to complete a certain distance.
Added features on a treadmill are where you’ll find the most variance. These can include things like cup holders, USB chargers, fans, Bluetooth syncing, built-in speakers for music and television, and a spot to place a magazine or tablet.
Purchasing a treadmill is the first step in attaining your fitness goals. Whether you’re looking for something to use in between the gym, or something to help you get started on your fitness journey, a treadmill is always the first thing you should buy.
As we mentioned earlier, any of the treadmills listed above would make an excellent addition to your home gym or workout setup. Just remember to go over all the aspects we discussed, and you’ll end up with the perfect treadmill to help you get in shape, and stay that way.