Treadmills are some of the most straightforward pieces of gym equipment: You hop on them and start moving. But shopping for them is a much more complicated task. (Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as going to the store, lacing up the new pair of running shoes you’re hoping to use on them, and hopping on the belt.) These are big (and oftentimes expensive) machines that can be a pain to move and install, so it’s important to do the research to find the right one for you. I’ve logged hundreds of miles on many different types of treadmills in various gyms, hotel fitness areas, and rec centers, and I’ve learned through experience what makes a great treadmill. For this guide, I also combed through the Strategist archives and spoke to running and fitness experts to get their recommendations for the best treadmills for every type of user.
What we’re looking for
A treadmill’s belt dimensions are an important consideration for the type of activity you’ll be doing. Larger strides will require a longer belt length — that way your feet have room to catch the belt and not the treadmill frame. If you plan on just walking, anywhere from 48 to 50 inches should give you enough room. For regular running, 55 inches in length provides a bigger buffer, and if you’re over six feet tall, look to belt lengths of at least 60 inches. For walking, look for an 18- to 20-inch-wide belt, and if you’re running, look for 22-inch options.
The most obvious thing to consider when purchasing a treadmill is the space it will take up. Some models are more geared toward smaller living spaces, while others are best suited for areas with more room.
Every treadmill on this list is designed to help you move, but they each have standout features that specific users will prefer over others, like incline-decline capabilities, non-motorized belts, big display screens, guided runs, and classes, to name a few.
Max belt speed
Traditional treadmills have a motorized belt whose speed can be adjusted, thus requiring you to run at a faster pace. The speed ranges for the treadmills vary in this list (one model has a non-motorized belt) and can help you determine what level of intensity best suits you. (Twelve miles per hour — the max setting on some of these models — translates to a six-minute mile. Here’s a handy conversion chart that lays out belt speed and pace.)
The bulk of most treadmills makes them hard to put away, but some options have smart storage features, like a foldable design or flat builds that make them easy to tuck away into a corner, a closet, or, in some cases, under a bed.
Best overall treadmill
Belt length: 22” W by 60” L | Footprint: 80” L by 38” W by 65” H | Standout features: Built-in workout and training programs | Max belt speed: 12 mph | Storage: Folding frame
The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 was the top choice in our roundup of the best treadmills to use at home, according to personal trainers. Given NordicTrack’s history as a reliable brand and designer of treadmills, it makes sense that the 1750 comes recommended to us by fitness experts like David Roche, coach and founder of the Swap running team and co-author of The Happy Runner. New York–based personal trainer Miriam Fried says it’s a solid all-around option that fits her criteria: “You’ll want something that ideally goes above ten mph and a 10 percent incline, especially if you have more specific fitness goals in mind,” she says. Ava Fagin, a personal trainer and functional-strength coach, also recommends the 1750, highlighting its built-in workouts and interactive classes (it comes with a free 30-day iFit membership). The 1750 is all that most people need for walking or running sessions at home. The newest version of the 1750 — the 2022 — has a larger 14-inch touchscreen compared to the 10-inch version on older models. The screen also swivels, which could come in handy if you’re following an iFit class from your yoga mat.
Best (less expensive) overall treadmill
Belt length: 20” W by 55” L | Footprint: 73” L by 35.8” W by 67.5” H | Standout features: Built-in workout and training programs | Max belt speed: 10 mph | Storage: Folding frame
At under $700, the T 6.5 Si is one of NordicTrack’s most affordable treadmills. Compared to the Commercial 1750, the T 6.5 Si is more compact overall: It has a smaller footprint, a lower maximum belt speed, and a smaller screen (it also comes with a free one-month iFit subscription). This is the ideal treadmill for a runner or walker who might spend most of their time working out outside but wants a treadmill for rainy days or winter months. I’ve done a handful of easier runs on this treadmill, and I particularly liked the feel of the belt. Its rubber is not too grippy as to feel sticky on your shoes, but my feet never felt like they might slip or slide while running. If you plan to have lighter workouts that won’t require a speed beyond ten mph, the T 6.5 Si is definitely worth considering.
Best manual treadmill
Belt length: 17.1” W by 62.2” L | Footprint: 69.9” L by 32.8” W by 64” H| Standout features: Runner-powered belt | Max belt speed: No max speed | Storage: Transport wheels, no folding frame
The AssaultRunner is the only treadmill on this list that doesn’t have a motorized belt. Ben Unger, a personal trainer and nutrition coach based in New York City, recommended this treadmill with a slightly curved belt to Strategist writers Hillary Reid and Karen Iorio Adelson for at-home use. Unger explained that because the runner powers the treadmill, and not an electric belt, “way more calories are burned than on an electric treadmill in the same amount of time.” There’s no maximum speed, so this is a good option for those looking to practice sprints or tempo workouts. Your first time running on a manual treadmill might feel a bit different than on a treadmill with an electric belt, because you control the pace, not the belt. It took me a few sessions on the AssaultRunner to get used to slowing down the belt by slowing down my stride, rather than pressing a button to turn off the treadmill or stop the workout.
Best treadmill for class-based activities
Belt length: 20” W by 59” L | Footprint: 68” L by 33” W by 62” H | Standout features: 0 to 12.5 percent incline, 24-inch touchscreen, Peloton app and class access | Max belt speed: 12.5 mph | Storage: No folding frame or carrying handles
When it comes to at-home fitness classes, Peloton and its ecosystem of live and on-demand classes is king. Just like the popular Peloton Bike, the Peloton Tread gives you access to guided workouts and live sessions — and not just running-specific workouts. Stephen Pennington, a home-fitness enthusiast based in Dayton, Ohio, upgraded from his old treadmill to a Peloton Tread after he found himself frequently trying to replicate Peloton Bootcamp classes — which he says are similar to an Orange Theory class — on his treadmill via the mobile app. “My old treadmill only had speed and time functions,” says Pennington, who also frequently rides on his Peloton Bike. “There are so many more features you can access on the Tread. Not only can you sync your heart rate and health data to the Tread, it also stores a lot of that information for you in your profile.” He adds that Peloton’s instructors are engaging and easy to follow. Rapper Sen Dog frequently takes classes on his Peloton Tread and calls the brand’s equipment “above and beyond everything I’ve worked out with before.”
Best treadmill for virtual runs and workouts
Belt length: 22” W by 60” L | Footprint: 81” L by 39” W by 76” H | Standout features: -5% to 40% incline, 22-inch touchscreen | Max belt speed: 12 mph | Storage: No folding frame or carrying handles
The X22i offers a 40-percent maximum incline, which is the steepest setting we’ve seen available on a treadmill. “That wildly steep incline makes all the difference for me because being able to really crank that up simulates the skimo races I’m training for,” says writer and Outside magazine gear columnist Joe Jackson. “I felt like I was getting a badass hiking workout but on a treadmill. If I was on a normal treadmill at the gym, I wouldn’t be able to do that.” The massive 22-inch touchscreen is ideal for classes and programs available through iFit. One of Jackson’s favorite features is the lineup of runs that simulate trail topography by increasing and decreasing the incline throughout the session. “On a climbing and skiing trip to Chamonix years ago, there was a trail that I wanted to run but never got to. I recently got to run that trail, virtually, thanks to the X22i’s super varied incline capabilities. It was cool to get that kind of workout.” Similarly, I revisited a hike I took in Patagonia back in 2018 via an iFit workout on the X22i. The incline changed as I ran, mimicking the switchbacks on the trail. That feature, paired with a video of the running guide, Tommy, as he made his way up the trail, was a totally unique experience, especially compared to a regular treadmill run with no interactive component. I would recommend the X22i to folks who are looking to upgrade from a standard treadmill experience.
Best standing-desk treadmill
Belt length: 20” W by 45” L | Footprint: 58” L by 48” W by 60” H | Standout features: Desktop with adjustable height, USB charging port | Max belt speed: 4.0 mph | Storage: Two transport wheels
In our roundup of the best standing desks, we picked the LifeSpan as the best model with a treadmill. Daniel Huang, chiropractor at Level Up Sports Chiropractic recommends it and says a standing treadmill desk is a good way to stay active throughout the workday, which, for many of us, is usually spent sitting. “A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, joint pain, and other systemic issues that can be prevented if we just simply move,” Huang explains. The desk is adjustable and motorized and comes with four height presets, from 25 to 52 inches. While you won’t be running on this (its max belt speed is four miles per hour), it’s a great way to get steps in at your workstation. (LifeSpan also sells a manual version of this treadmill desk for a few hundred dollars less.)
Best under-desk treadmill
Belt length: 17.3” W by 47.2” L | Footprint: 57.1” L by 28.3” W by 51.2” H unfolded | 39.4” by 28.3” by 6.3” folded | Standout features: Pairs with app | Max belt speed: 6.5 MPH max speed | Storage: Folds in half
The WalkingPad comes recommended by Strategist contributor Brittany Brown, who rounded up the best under-desk treadmills. Its folding capability and relatively slim size makes it an effective walking treadmill — great for casual exercises and pairing with standing desks. “I could pretty much do any work task imaginable on this,” Brown writes. Because the belt speed is slower compared to other models on this list, and because the frame is less substantial, this isn’t a treadmill designed for running. Brown also notes one tradeoff with the folding construction: “You can feel the line in the belt where it folds. It didn’t exactly bother me while walking on it (in shoes or barefoot), but those used to working out on treadmills may find it distracting.”
• Karen Iorio Adelson, former Strategist senior writer
• Brittany Brown, Strategist contributor
• Ava Fagin, a personal trainer and functional-strength coach
• Daniel Huang, chiropractor at Level Up Sports Chiropractic
• Joe Jackson, freelance writer, Outside magazine columnist, and home-gym expert
• Stephen Pennington, home-fitness enthusiast
• Hillary Reid, former Strategist staff writer
• David Roche, coach and founder of the Swap running team and co-author of The Happy Runner
• Ben Unger, a personal trainer and nutrition coach based in New York
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