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Treadmill Buying Guide

Walking on the treadmill is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and lose weight, but it's important to choose the right model for your personal health needs and the space you have in your home. This guide breaks down all the factors you need to consider when purchasing a home treadmill.
Treadmill Buying Guide Video
Treadmill Buying Guide
Treadmill Buying Guide Video Treadmill Buying Guide Video
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Getting Started

Investing in a home treadmill is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health, lose weight or train for a 5K. These cardio machines give you control over your fitness routine without worrying about the weather or the cost and time restrictions associated with a gym membership. However, with so many brands and models on the market, it can be hard to decide which model is right for you. Before you get overwhelmed with options, take a step back and consider what your goals are. From size to budget to smart technology, we've outlined all the factors to keep in mind as you browse.

Belt Size: Deck Length and Width

The length of the treadmill deck is a factor you may not have thought of, but is incredibly important when investing in a new cardio machine. Decks typically range from 45" to 60". Runners should always opt for a longer deck (at least 54") to accommodate for a longer stride. Those who primarily intend to walk can choose a treadmill of any length between 45" and 60". If running isn't a part of your exercise routine, save yourself some room and opt for a model with a shorter deck. If you're taller than 6 feet, a 60" long belt is a must.
The width of your treadmill deck also depends on your exercise habits and frame. Belts are typically 13" to 22" wide, but we recommend choosing a belt that is at least 16" wide. 18" is recommended for walking and 20" or wider is best for running. If you're someone with a larger frame, you may also want a wider belt to feel comfortable while moving. The width also affects how close you are to the handrails. You should also consider the width of any doorways the treadmill has to fit through for installation.

Weight Limit

The weight limit of the treadmill you're looking at is another factor to consider. If you're investing in a cardio machine, you want to ensure you can use it safely for years without worrying about damaging the machine; the deck should be able to comfortably support your body weight. Often, lower-end treadmills that lack the durability and support of investment models have a lower weight limit, typically around 200-300 pounds at most. If you invest a bit more, you'll typically find higher weight ratings thanks to a sturdier construction, around 300-500 pounds. Even if you plan to lose weight, it's important to choose a treadmill that can accommodate your current size.
Woman with brown hair running on a treadmill


Just about everything you can buy for your home has some kind of smart technology and home treadmills are no exception. Many new models offer a variety of high-tech and convenient features that make exercising more enjoyable.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Treadmills with Bluetooth connectivity allow you to connect your smartphone to your cardio machine. Bluetooth-enabled treadmills are great for enjoying your favorite workout playlist, typically via built-in speakers on the machine. Bluetooth can also be used to enjoy workout classes via apps. You'll be able to train with world-class trainers to hit your fitness goals or introduce something new to your workout routine. Additionally, select models use Bluetooth and a touch screen so you can enjoy your favorite streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. You can also use smart technology to sync with fitness apps on your phone to track metrics like your heart rate, calories burned or general fitness progress.
  • Built-in features: If you're working out at home, you don't need to wear your headphones; there aren't other gym goers around, so why not enjoy your favorite workout playlist at full volume? Home treadmills with built-in speakers let you skip the headphones. As mentioned above, many Bluetooth treadmills use built-in speakers to play music from your phone but some models may have a cord or cable with which to connect your smartphone. Other built-in features to look for are cup holders for your water or sports drink, built-in fans or built-in tablet or book holders. These features enhance your workout by keeping you entertained or by keeping you cool.
  • Workout Programs: Many treadmills offer pre-programmed workouts, which are perfect for beginners or those looking to adopt a training program. You can choose options for various types of walk or run like incline training or hiking. If you're training for a race, there may be an applicable program for that as well. Depending on the brand of treadmill you purchase, you may get a 30- or 60-day free trial of a workout program or app.

Budget: How Much Should You Spend on a Treadmill?

Home treadmills are available at a variety of prices to suit a range of budgets. Whether you prefer a simple, straightforward machine or want to splurge on the best equipment for an incredible home gym, you can easily find a treadmill that meets your requirements. Many reputable brands offer no-frills models under $1,000. Features on these less-expensive models vary: some may just have the controls you need to walk or run, but there are also options with Bluetooth connectivity and speakers. If you're willing to spend thousands of dollars on your home treadmill, you'll find a slew of incredible features. Touch screens, WiFi connectivity and free trials for virtual fitness classes are just some perks to expect. Each model will vary, so be sure to check specs and create a list of your must-have features before making your purchase.

Foldable Treadmills

If you want to work out at home but live in a smaller space like an apartment or don't have room in your home for a designated fitness area, try a folding treadmill. Their deck folds up for easy storage in a closet, under a piece of furniture or simply tucked out of sight. These models typically feature wheels so they can easily be moved around and stored when not in use. Despite their convenience and portability, many folding treadmills offer great design features like built-in fans or smart technology. You don't have to sacrifice power and durability even if you're short on space.

Making Your Final Decision

Now that you've considered all the potential factors, it's time to make a purchase. Remember to keep your budget, height and weight at top of mind as you browse. Once you find a selection of treadmills that are right for your frame, you can move on to fun features like Bluetooth, touch screens and more. We suggest making a list of your must-have features to make shopping even easier. Purchasing a home treadmill will help improve your cardiovascular health, help you train for a marathon or help you lose weight. No matter what your goals are, the right treadmill will help make it happen.

Q & A Summary

What is the best treadmill?

There isn't a singular best treadmill. Instead, you should choose a treadmill based on your fitness goals and budget. However, there are certain brands that have built a reputation for reliable quality, including NordicTrack and Horizon Fitness.

How long should I run on a treadmill?

It's important to do at least 20 minutes of cardio in your workout. However, if you're training for a 5K or a similar event, you can run longer—just be sure to monitor your heart rate.

What is a manual treadmill?

A manual treadmill is one that is powered by the runner rather than a motor. These treadmills are popular with professional runners and athletes and they more closely replicate the experience of running outdoors. Manual treadmills tend to be more expensive than motorized models.

Which is better, a treadmill or elliptical?

This depends on several factors to consider including your budget, fitness goals and space in your home. Walking on a treadmill is a great low-impact exercise that just about anyone can do.