Home treadmills make fitness accessible
Having the right piece of exercise equipment in your home means you can
get your workout in even when the weather is too bad -- or your schedule is too
tight -- to make it to the gym. The
good news is that creating a home gym is as easy as setting up a treadmill in
the corner. Whether you're already fit and want to stay that way, or are trying
to make some positive lifestyle changes to become less sedentary, a home
treadmill can help you reach your goals.
Types of Treadmills
The vast majority of the treadmills we recommend in this report are motorized treadmills. These are available at wide variety of price points and an equally wide variety of quality and features. The mid-priced and cheaper models are usually folding models, to save floor space when you're not using it, and the price depends upon features and build quality. Folding treadmills are generally recommended for walkers and joggers, although plenty of people say they run on them with no problem. However, if you are a serious runner, however, you might want to consider a non-folding treadmill -- the type found in most gyms and other workout facilities. They're pricier, but also built to last.
Unlike motorized treadmills, manual treadmills require you to power the treadmill belt by the friction from your feet combined with a flywheel or other roller mechanism. They can be very difficult to get moving, but usually have a built-in incline that helps get the belt in motion. Manual treadmills tend to get poor reviews, overall, but they remain popular with those who have a small budget and/or limited space.
If you do have plenty of space, consider rounding out your home gym with
some other pieces of exercise equipment to give you a great circuit workout.
Check out our reports on exercise bikes, elliptical trainers, stair climbers, home gyms and yoga mats for our recommendations in
those categories. To help motivate you even further, fitness trackers help you keep track of your steps and other activities -- even your calories.
And, if you're trying to lose weight, we found the top weight loss programs to help you do just that.
Finding The Best Treadmills
To find the best rated treadmills, our editors
consulted top review sites including Consumer Reports and Treadmill Doctor.
Fred Waters at Treadmill Ratings Reviews offers great insight into
the vast treadmill market. These experts
not only have good knowledge of what separates a top treadmill from a lower-tier
model, they also test each treadmill they recommend.
We also look for user feedback -- and some
popular treadmills get hundreds of reviews at sites like Amazon, Sears and Dick's
Sporting Goods. We consider performance, of course, but also ease of use,
durability, and how responsive the manufacturer is to making things right when
something goes wrong. The result of our research is our recommendations for the
The best treadmills
When it comes to
the top treadmills for home use, the name Landice usually surfaces somewhere in
the conversation. The company makes two similar models, the Landice L7 (Est. $3,950 and up) and the Landice L8 (Est. $4,750 and up). Reviews are split
between the two as to which would be the best choice for most buyers. Consumer
Reports puts the L7 at the top of its list of non-folding treadmills. Runner's
World looks at both models and gives the nod to the L8, adding "This is
the treadmill you need if you're training to race up Mt. Washington."
Michael Jackness at Pulse by Treadmills.com also looks at both and he rates
them similarly. Jackness notes that the L8 is, for the most part, the L7, made
bigger, with a larger deck, rollers and frame. He adds that the L8 is "basically
a commercial unit for the home and it is priced in line with that theory."
Because most people
don't need a commercial-grade treadmill, and in light of the higher price tag
on the L8, we are giving our nod to the L7 as the Best Reviewed treadmill for
runners, though with one caveat: the L7 has a 58-inch deck -- just long enough
to accommodate most runners' strides. However, Landice suggests that those
runners over 6-feet tall might be more comfortable with the L8, which features
a super-long 63-inch deck. And, if noise is a consideration, note that the L8
is described as quieter than the L7; Runner's World gives it a nod as best for
houses with sleeping babies.
Regardless of whether you select the Landice L7 or Landice L8, construction
quality is described as excellent, earning top marks in one round up and
compliments all around. Landice backs these treadmills with a lifetime warranty
on parts, including wear parts, though there is a catch -- your treadmill has
to be dealer installed and you need to live within 60 miles of a Landice
customize their Landice treadmills in a variety of ways. Most important,
perhaps, is the choice of four different control panels. The base version comes
with the Pro Trainer control panel and it's pretty basic, with five built-in
programs, two user defined programs and not much else. Step up versions add
additional programs, jazzier displays, and options such as a heart monitor. The
top-of-the-line Executive Control panel adds an LED display that simulates various
activities, such as road scenes and a track for running. Feel like climbing
instead? The screen can show your progress as you scale six landmarks, like the
Washington Monument or the Empire State Building.
How basic or fancy
a control panel you want is a matter of preference or budget, but step up
panels add to the bottom line -- as much as $1,400 for the Executive panel.
Jackness suggests that you be "truthful with yourself" regarding what
you really need, and adds that "many users are actually better off with a
simpler screen and adding a tablet mount or TV mount instead to the unit based
on what they will use while working out."
There are many other options for the Landice treadmills as well. Those
include the aforementioned TV and tablet mounts, as well as an integrated
15-inch LCD TV/DVD combo system. The VXF Shock Absorption system is standard
and well regarded, but if you need a softer run to minimize impact to your
knees and other joints, an optional Orthopedic Shock Absorption system is
offered. The company claims that with the latter installed, running on a
Landice treadmill is seven times softer than running on grass, and reviews
indicate that the difference is noticeable. Medical handrails are available to
assist older users or rehabilitation needs.
These Landice treadmills can be pricey -- especially when loaded up with
extras such as the Executive Control panel -- but they are the closest thing
you can get to club-grade exercise gear without really opening up your wallet. For
example, Runner's World testers gush over the Woodway 4Front (Est.
$10,000 and up). It's a tank, says
Jeff Dengate about the Woodway, adding, "Its belt even resembles a
caterpillar track found on heavy-duty vehicles." The Woodway also does a
better job than any other treadmill of creating an experience that feels like
you are running on a road. "It isn't a treadmill -- it's an indoor road-running
simulator," says Mark Remy, Runner's World editor at large.
The downside to the Woodway 4Front, of course, is the price, which is
described as "huge" by the reviewers at Treadmill Doctor. However,
they add, "Given that, this is one of the few treadmills that can claim to
be the last treadmill you will buy." Runner's World agrees that the price
will be hard to swallow for many individuals -- and keep in mind that options
can drive it even higher. "But if your neighborhood health club owns one,
it's worth the cost of membership," Dengate says.
If you are looking for a non-folding treadmill that's a little easier on
the wallet, we saw some good feedback for the Sole TT8 (Est. $2,500).
The TT8 finishes right behind the Landice L7 at Consumer Reports and earns a
Best Buy rating from Treadmill Doctor.
Construction quality on the Sole TT8 is very good, although it's a step
behind the treadmills mentioned above. The frame, deck and motor are covered by
a lifetime warranty, the electronics and other parts for five years. In testing
at Consumer Reports that looks at durability over the long haul, both the L7
and the Sole TT8 showed very few signs of wear following a half year of
simulated usage. Treadmill Doctor concurs that build quality is excellent. "With
the TT8, you get as solid a unit as Sole makes," they say.
The Sole TT8 backs its durable treadmill with a number of features. It's
Bluetooth-compatible to sync your fitness data with several fitness-tracking
programs. There are six standard programs and two custom programs to add
variety to your workouts. A large 10-inch LCD display is easy to see, and the
heart rate control programs are very effective if your training program
mandates staying within a specific target heart rate.
Folding treadmills are a great choice for most
Experts say that non-folding treadmills are the best type for serious
runners and others who need the heavier duty performance and durability they
provide. However, for those looking for a more basic piece of equipment for
home exercise, a folding treadmill could be a better fit. They take up less
space than non-folding treadmills when not in use, and they cost less.
There are several very good choices in this category. If you are looking
for a folding treadmill with solid construction and many features, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 (Est. $1,400) earns top billing. Updated for 2017 with some tweaks to the
console and display, the 1750 is highly recommended by experts and owners --
and has been for years.
Treadmill Doctor names the Nordic Track 1750 their Treadmill of the Year
for 2017 and Treadmill Ratings & Reviews makes it a
Best Buy. Treadmill Doctor notes that you can buy a better treadmill, but then
adds that "you will have to pay substantially more for it." The
maximum user weight is 300 pounds -- slightly lower than the maximum user weight
of the top-flight non-folding treadmills. The 22- by 60-inch tread belt should
give most runners all the room they need for a workout, yet it's slightly more
compact than most comparable folding treadmills; plus, of course, it can fold
up when not in use. The treadmill is backed by a lifetime warranty for the
frame and motor, five years for everything else, and two years labor. The
manufacturer, Icon Health and Fitness, used to get panned for terrible customer
service, but reviewers across the board agree that it has improved a lot in the
past couple of years.
In addition to the 2017 upgrades noted above, features on the
NordicTrack 1750 include a running deck that can incline (up to 15 percent) to
simulate running up hill, or decline (to -3 percent) to simulate running
downhill. The two-setting Runners Flex cushioning system can soften to ease the
impact on your joints, or stiffen to replicate the feel of running on the road.
There are 38 built-in workout apps, and the high definition, 7-inch touchscreen
is web-enabled, so you can browse the Internet as you run. The 1750 has the
ability to integrate iFit Coach technology. That's a subscription-based service
that costs $144 per year and includes a wrist-style fitness tracker. It allows
you to access interactive training programs, nutrition advice and workout and
sleep tracking, among other things.