The best treadmills have the ability to transform indoor workouts from a dull, staring-at-the-wall-for-hours type of experience into something far more enjoyable. Lose weight, improve heart health and offset the adverse effects of our modern, sedentary lifestyle using a treadmill from this list.
As more people seek to get fit and lose weight at home, buying a treadmill – or even a folding treadmill – feels less of a foolish luxury and more of an essential health investment. Indeed, treadmills are the go-to home cardio machine for many, despite elliptical trainers being better for joint health and rowing machines providing a better full-body workout.
That said, treadmills aren't bad for you. On the contrary, the best treadmills have well-cushioned running decks to mitigate the impact force of landing, which is better for the joints than running on the tarmac. Running machines can also help you lose weight and tone up effectively, which is what everyone is looking to do before we get into the full swing of summer. Here's the best treadmill workout to get you started.
Running machines from top manufacturers such as NordicTrack, ProForm, Echelon, and Horizon have large, interactive screens, smooth running belts and customisable programmes to help you run more efficiently to become a better runner in the comfort of your own home.
On a tight budget? Check out our roundup of the best cheap treadmills because it doesn't have to cost the earth to get fit indoors. Or you can use an under-desk treadmill if you fancy getting fit while working on your computer.
How we test the best treadmills
Treadmills are some of the most complicated home gym equipment you can get; they are big, have many features and often capable of producing various workout modes. Hence why we spend anything between 2-4 weeks with every machine before we decide where it fits in the current treadmill landscape.
As well as testing the features, we look at how comfortable it is to run on the treadmill, how straightforward the user interface is, how easy it is to store and move the machine around whether it's a good value for money (or not).
For more information on testing, we've put together a handy guide on how we test at T3 (opens in new tab).
Best treadmills to buy right now
In our NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill review (opens in new tab), we gave this amazing running machine four stars and said if you have serious amounts of cash to spend on a treadmill, you should consider the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill. This commercial quality running machine excels in every category, whether it's running speed, incline capabilities, or entertainment.
The 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor is built to deliver speeds up to 13.5 mph, plenty fast enough for most runners who might consider running on a treadmill. For comparison, Eliud Kipchoge's 2-hour barrier-smashing pace was 13.16 mph, so even if you can run that fast, the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill will be able to keep up with you.
As for entertainment, most of the middle console is taken up by a massive 21.5” full-colour capacitive touch display. As well as that, the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill also sports built-in speakers with Bluetooth connectivity so you can blast your music as well as listen to instructions coming from the iFit workouts streamed on the treadmill's gigantic screen. You'll also get a 1-year iFit Live subscription included in the price, and there are also 40 pre-programmed workouts on the treadmill.
The NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill is pretty bulky, mind, and as mentioned above, it's not too cheap either, but should you have the money and the space, this will be the last treadmill you'll ever have to buy.
The Echelon Stride is a solid running machine for most casual runners. It offers a full-sized running area and enough speed for most. It also benefits from Echelon United – a series of online classes that you can access via the app for a monthly fee.
The 0-10% incline might be a little limiting for more hardcore runners, and the Stride doesn't have a built-in screen either, so you need to use your own phone or tablet to access the classes.
"However, none of this matters as this treadmill is that it folds down flat, to just over 10 inches – meaning it will easily slide under a bed or stand up in a closet", we concluded in our Echelon Stride review (opens in new tab).
The Assault AirRunner does so much more than a standard running machine. It doesn't sport the typical motor-powered belt like others but instead feeds off user input to crank up the resistance and adapt with effort.
It feels like running on air, while the slightly kicked-up design means there is no limit to how hard you can push yourself on it. Designed with HIIT in mind, it is excellent for cranking up the pace in a split second, without the awkward wait for a belt to catch up.
Worried about parting with the dosh? Its steel frame and handrails, corrosion-resistant hardware and slat belt running surface are built to last up to 150,000 miles of use so, despite the higher asking price, the Assault AirRunner is an excellent value for money running machine – no wonder we gave it four stars in our Assault AirRunner review.
The ProForm Pro 1000 isn't the cheapest machine on the list, but it is also no way near the most expensive, yet it offers some extremely competitive features. These include a generous 12 per cent incline gradient, a built-in workout fan, 32 pre-set workout programmes and an LED display that offers all sorts of fitness metrics to suit various training regimes.
Great for heavy use, the treadmill features a professional-grade motor that is built with high-grade components and features a dynamically spin-balanced assembly (whatever that means) to power the treadmill up to a top speed of 22kph/13.6mph. That might not be a full commercial gym sprint pace, but it's more than enough for a domestic jog.
For an entry-level model, the JTX Sprint 3 is a cracking machine which is both robust and affordable. It is suitable for most people and will provide an excellent cardio workout for those looking to get or stay fit from the comfort of their homes. The folding deck means you don’t have to sacrifice much space, and it can be easily stored away in a cupboard.
It may not have the luxurious Bluetooth connectivity, but this is not too much of an issue with the built-in speakers and a dedicated place to pop your device for an enjoyable heart-pumping workout. This is a high-quality machine that is built to last and has the bonus of a two-year warranty. There really is not much not to like with this treadmill as it’s functional and does exactly what it is meant to do. It will offer most runners a solid experience for a quality workout every single time.
Read our full JTX Sprint-3 review
The Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill has one of the slowest starting speeds (0.3 km/h) on the market, making it ideal for recovery as well as complete beginners. With this running machine, you can gently ease yourself into running training without having to worry about the weather outdoors.
The fully shock absorbed deck will make running less demanding on your joints as well more pleasant for the downstairs neighbours. For added peace of mind, the Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill also comes with a 3-year parts and labour warranty including lifetime on the frame and motor.
On the other end of the intensity-spectrum, the Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill also offers seven HIIT (high intensity interval training) programs straight out of the box. HIIT training is an excellent way to lose weight and to maximise training efficiency, should you be pressed on time. HIIT workouts are made possible due to the high maximum speed (18 km/h) and the incline capabilities (up to 12%) of this treadmill.
The Kettler Sport Arena Treadmill supports Bluetooth connectivity so you can play music through the speakers of the running machine. Not only that but once paired, you can control the playback on the phone with the dedicated buttons on the console.
A name that will be familiar to anyone who frequents the gym, Life Fitness produces top quality equipment that can also be introduced to the home with minimum fuss.
The standout feature on this model is the Track console, which easily connects to smartphones and tablets in order to harness the power of the excellent Life Fitness app. A powerful FlexDeck shock absorption system is said to reduce impact on joints by 30 per cent. It's fairly expensive but you get what you pay for.
Oh, and you'll need a decent amount of room at home because this is, quite predictably, a big ol' unit.
The Horizon 7.4AT Treadmill (opens in new tab) (retailer link) features a 3.5 CHP motor and 500 lb thrust incline motor which together create the "most responsive drive system available in a treadmill", Horizon claims. The Johnson Digital Drive System featuring Rapid Sync Technology responds "33% faster than other treadmill motors" – also according to Horizon – so in theory, you can keep up with the workouts you're streaming more accurately.
The treadmill can also be connected to training apps such as Zwift. The Horizon 7.4AT Treadmill features the integrated Sprint 8 high-intensity interval training that burns fat and builds muscles in just eight weeks (yet another claim from Horizon), "trimming body fat by up to 27% and significantly lowering bad cholesterol after just eight weeks of three 20-minute workouts per week."
Sitting comfortably at the 'affordable' end of the spectrum, this offering from Reebok packs some pro-spec features that feel rather generous for the money. A clever 'ZigTech' cushioning system on the deck disperses the impact energy across the length of the running deck, helping to protect your joints, while the safety cut off clip is something that is typically seen on more expensive models.
Although easily folded and stashed away, the running deck has been designed with long-legged joggers in mind and the unit has been rigorously tested to withstand users that weigh up to 17 stone. Alas, the digital display feels a bit cheap on this model and the myriad buttons aren't quite as neat nor easy to get on with as others on this list but then what do you expect of the world's 10th best treadmill?
For the space and budget-conscious that want a treadmill to take gentle runs or walks, the Mobvoi Home Treadmill is a great option. The unit folds flat and can be slipped under the bed when not in use. It can also be used in the walking mode without folding up the handrail, so it's perfect to pair with a standing desk to get in your steps while you work.
This won't suit everyone – the running area is on the small side, there's no incline, and the max speed is 12 km/h (7.46mph), but it's perfect as an affordable home runner. Read our full Mobvoi Home Treadmill review for all the pros and cons.
Which treadmill is best for home use?
Of course, something like the LifeFitness Platinum Club Series sits at the top end of the budgetary scale – it's got the word 'platinum' in it, so what did you expect? – but that's not to say there aren't great choices to suit less extravagant tastes.
Prices range from around £160 / $200 for the basic, self-propelled models. Still, these tend to offer a very unrealistic running experience and fall apart after a couple of uses, so really, the sweet spot between performance and price starts at around £600 / $700.
A good, mains-powered treadmill is judged on its running deck, which has to absorb the impact of a run while simultaneously representing an outdoor surface, as well as keeping the amount of noise it produces to a minimum.
For everyday use (as in, not hardcore running training), we would recommend the JTX Sprint-5 Home Treadmill: it strikes a good balance between quality, ease of use and price, offering a good value for money for people not willing to remortgage a house to get a new running machine.
How to buy the best treadmill on any budget
Naturally, the more money you spend on a running machine, the more technology is thrown at it. So if you like tracking stats, running along with a virtual partner or ingesting some multimedia, then it's worth opting for the machines with built-in screens or reliable smartphone connectivity.
Or, you can buy a basic model and also get an exercise bike, elliptical or rowing machine added to your pain cave. What are the differences between how treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals? We compared them to find out: treadmill vs exercise bike (opens in new tab) and treadmill vs elliptical (opens in new tab).
RRPs can be punitive, but you'll found the usual online shopping suspects tend to offer enormous discounts off sports equipment of this nature. Just make sure there aren't any enormous delivery and set-up charges involved, especially for the larger, fancier stuff. Our price widgets will always pull in the lowest price offered by our retail chums.
One final tip: sports scientists have found that runners tend to exert less energy when pounding the miles on a treadmill, presumably due to the springy running board offering an extra boost. So, if you want to keep fit indoors, much sure you place the speed on a faster setting than you think you need.
And if it's speed you are after, you will need some additional gear too, like the best running shoes (opens in new tab) and for tracking heart rate accurately, the best heart rate monitors (opens in new tab). If you need to isolate yourself from your surroundings at home, you might also want to wear the best running headphones (opens in new tab).
Are treadmills bad for your knees?
No, they aren't! As a matter of fact, they are probably better for the knees than running on hard surfaces (e.g. tarmac). Modern treadmills have cushioned running decks to make home workouts less noisy and reduce impact force as you run. It's a different story if you try to run fast, but that will affect your knee joints on any surface. If you're concerned about your knees, try running slower and should you feel any pain or discomfort, consult a medical professional.