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Best treadmills 2019: the top running machines to help keep you fit

Whether you’re looking to take those first steps towards getting fit or training for a marathon, a running machine is a great way to achieve your goals. We’ve picked the best treadmills to help you do that. 

While you can’t beat a run outdoors, a home treadmill has plenty to offer runners of all abilities and is a powerful training tool. Features packed into running machines include cool interactive elements, as well as a host of connectivity options and built-in workouts and training plans. 

With most gyms offering banks of running machines, why splashout on one at home? If running is your only interest, they can be  solid investment, giving you years of use, while the fact it’s at home means you’re more likely to hop on it before work or when you’re back, rather than having to venture out to a gym. Having a running treadmill at home also means you can use it even when the weather doesn’t permit a run outdoors.

That said, a treadmill is a major purchase, and pricing is an important consideration. You can pick up a low-end machine for under $100, and top-of-the-line models can nearly $10,000. We identified the sweet spot for most consumers as averaging $2,000 and reviewed treadmills ranging in price from $1,500 to $3,599.

Our pick is the NordicTrack Commercial 1750. A great treadmill that delivers a consistent performance, it's also reasonably priced when you consider it features 38 onboard workouts and comes with a one-year NordicTrack iFit membership.

Best Treadmill Overall

NordicTrack Commercial 1750

NordicTrack Commercial 1750

Quiet, self-cooling motor
One-year iFit membership included
Hydraulic shock-assisted folding
Isn’t available on Amazon.com
May be challenging to assemble
Has a relatively small screen

The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 makes a repeat showing as our best overall treadmill because it is loaded with desirable features designed to make your fitness routine enjoyable.

It helps you achieve a natural stride and comes with a one-year NordicTrack iFit membership that includes iFit Coach, iFit data tracking and the ability to interface with Google Maps to simulate a run anywhere in the world.

This high-performing treadmill has a powerful yet quiet motor and a 22-inch by 60-inch running surface. Its 2.5-inch rollers are balanced and precision-machined, and it has a two-ply commercial grade belt. It can accommodate users weighing up to 300 pounds and features NordicTrack’s adjustable FlexSelect deck cushioning. Deck cushioning is important because it helps protect your joints from injury during workouts. Along with 38 customizable workout programs onboard, it also offers streamed studio workouts and proprietary iFit connectivity.

The 15 percent incline and 3 percent decline add terrain-matching intensity to your workout, and you can exercise at speeds up to 12 mph. This is the most common maximum speed among the machines we reviewed. Like other top treadmills, it includes an EKG grip pulse and a wireless heartrate monitor, and you can track your workout with 11 data points such as time, speed, calories burned and distance.

To give you a multimedia experience, the Commercial 1750 has a 7-inch web-enabled HD touchscreen and two digitally amplified speakers. Its dual AutoBreeze fan, one-touch controls and a pivoting integrated tablet holder also help improve your workout. The machine weighs 310 pounds and folds easily with a telescoping hydraulic shock. Free shipping is available from NordicTrack, and there is a lifetime frame and motor warranty.

Read the full review

Best Value

LifeSpan TR4000i

LifeSpan TR4000i

Easy to assemble
Has a patented auto-pause safety feature
LifeSpan’s excellent customer service
May not feel sturdy for avid runners
User interface isn’t intuitive
Bluetooth adapter must be purchased separately

We chose the LifeSpan TR4000i as our best value because it performs so well at a competitive price. It has a 3.25 continuous drive motor and an upgraded belt, and you can exercise at up to 12 mph.

It also has 15 levels of incline to help simulate outdoor terrain. Its all-steel frame houses a 20-inch by 60-inch running surface, and it has eight compression shock absorbers to protect your hips, knees and ankles. A treadmill’s running surface is important to helping you maintain a natural gait. Most machines we reviewed have 22-inch-wide belts, so this one can be less comfortable for larger users.

Although you must buy its Bluetooth adapter separately, the LifeSpan TR4000i interfaces with fitness apps like Apple Health, Google Fit and LifeSpan Active Trac. It boasts 21 preprogrammed workouts for weight management, healthy living and sports training and has a maximum user weight of 350 pounds. The treadmill weighs 226 pounds and is the lightest machine we reviewed. It also has an EZfold hydraulic folding system and four mounted wheels for easy moving and storage. Treadmills are bulky machines, so these are especially nice features.

This treadmill’s console has a 6-inch blue backlit screen. If you’re looking for a more robust display, we’ve reviewed some machines with larger, full-color displays. Typical of high-quality treadmills, it has contact heart rate sensors and a chest strap receiver, but you must buy the strap separately. It has a three-speed cooling fan, speakers and an audio-in jack, along with a USB port. Its console readouts give you nine points of data, such as time, distance, steps, pace and elevation change. If you step off the deck for more than 20 seconds, the belt will automatically pause, which is a unique, useful safety feature. Customer service is available by phone, chat and an online contact form. LifeSpan offers free standard delivery.

Read the full review

Best Features

Bowflex BXT216

Bowflex BXT216

Bluetooth compatible and syncs with the Bowflex Results Series app
Can be programmed for up to four users
Has cushioned siderails and a Comfort Tech deck
Belt can be cumbersome to adjust
Fewer onboard workouts available than with comparable treadmills
Doesn’t have a stellar warranty

We chose the Bowflex BXT216 as the treadmill with the best features because it’s so functional, comfortable and convenient. From its oversized media rack to its one-touch speed and incline adjustments, it is practical and user-friendly.

It provides excellent connectivity for up to four users, and it’s easy to fold up and stow.

It has a 4.0 continuous horsepower motor and a 22-inch by 60-inch running deck that can accommodate users who weigh up to 400 pounds. Keep in mind that manufacturers recommend selecting a machine with a weight limit 50 pounds higher than the heaviest user’s weight. Like all the treadmills we reviewed, this machine’s maximum incline is 15 percent. Its console has a 9-inch full-color display. It gives you more workout feedback than any other machine we evaluated, including data such as calorie burn rate, heart rate zone, intervals, distance and speed.

The BXT216 has cushioned siderails and variable response deck cushioning, along with a three-speed fan. It also has an integrated sound system and features 11 pre-programmed workouts. There are also customizable workout options available. While most treadmill warranties cover frames and motors for a lifetime, Bowflex gives you 15 and five years respectively. While this is the least impressive warranty in our lineup, Bowflex offers solid customer support via phone and live chat. You can also find videos, manuals and answers to FAQs online.

Read the full review

Most Workout Programs

NordicTrack Commercial 2950

NordicTrack Commercial 2950

Has a 22-inch HD touchscreen
Costs nearly $3,000

The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 has 40 onboard workouts, which ties with the ProForm SMARTPro 9000 for the most of any treadmill we reviewed. Both machines come with a membership to iFit, allowing you to stream thousands of studio workouts into your home.

You can also run anywhere in the world with GoogleMaps, and you get real-time performance stat tracking. The Commercial 2950 has pulse grips to monitor your heart rate and comes with a wireless chest strap. It has a 4.25 continuous-duty horsepower motor and a running surface of 22 by 60 inches. It has a maximum exercise speed of 12 mph, along with both incline and decline. At 364 pounds, it’s the heaviest machine we reviewed, but it has a hydraulic shock to help you fold it. This treadmill has an integrated accessory tray, dual workout fans and digitally amplified speakers. Its 22-inch HD touchscreen is the most impressive treadmill display we’ve seen. NordicTrack warranties this machine’s frame for a lifetime.

Read the full review

Best for Interval Training

ProForm SmartPRO 9000

ProForm SmartPRO 9000

Has automatic incline and decline
Users report slow customer service

The ProForm SmartPRO 9000 is the top-of-the-line model in its series. This treadmill is great for interval training because its deck cushioning has an air compression chamber designed to minimize stress on the hips, ankles, knees and feet.

It also has balanced 2.5-inch rollers and is built to be stable and sturdy enough for sprints. The SmartPRO 9000 has a 4.0 continuous-drive horsepower motor built to work hard without overheating. It has a 22-inch by 60-inch running deck and it provides you with both incline and decline. It also has a maintenance-free tread belt. Like the NordicTrack Commercial 2950, this machine has 40 onboard workouts. It also has two EKG hand-grip sensors and a wireless chest strap to track your heart rate. The SmartPRO 9000 comes with a one-year membership to iFit, giving you access to thousands of streaming workout videos on its 10-inch HD touchscreen display. You can track your exercise progress from the console and tweet your success right from the screen. Customer service is available by phone and live chat, but consumers report that response can be slow.

Read the full review

Can you lose weight on a treadmill?

Treadmills are a great way to help you shed the pounds. You’ll need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat. A 30 minute run won’t come close to this, but it will chip it away and do it regularly enough and the pounds will soon fall off. 

Not only that, but most treadmills will have a program to fit your needs. Here's a list of basic workouts and what each type entails:

  • Lose weight fast: If you’re looking to lose weight, you should use interval workouts. Warm up, and then move to a brisk walking pace for about 2 minutes. Then, run as fast and as hard as you can for roughly double that time. Repeat this process several times – but always listen to what your body tells you, and slow down when you need to.
  • Build muscle: Use the treadmill’s incline function for an interval workout. Run on a flat surface (0 degrees) before raising the incline to a level where you feel challenged but comfortable; this will really work your hamstrings. Alternate between running on a flat surface and at an incline.
  • Increase endurance: Endurance training is an important part of running for a long time, as in a marathon. On a treadmill, start with a jog for a little less than a mile, and then increase your speed to a full sprint. When you need to slow down, start jogging again to cool down. Continue alternating as long as you can.

Aside from helping with weight loss, running (and walking on a treadmill) has numerous other health benefits. Each time you do a cardiovascular workout, your heart is strengthened, which can lower your blood pressure. And you don't have to run as fast as you can either; many treadmills are programmed with workouts that range from light and breezy to extremely strenuous. It's important to figure out what works best for you and talk to your doctor about any health concerns. If you feel lightheaded or experience sharp pain, you should stop your workout immediately.

Treadmills are great if the weather’s wet and cold outside, as you can stick to a training plan without fear of slipping on an icy road or sidewalk. Not everyone likes running in the dark, so a home treadmill means you can run in the comfort of your own home whatever time of day it is.

Are treadmills bad for you?

One big advantage of running on a treadmill is that it’s softer than pounding the streets, but you still need to be careful as they can still produce a jarring impact on the back or stress the hip, knee, and ankle joints. 

You’ll also want to make sure the treadmill you buy has an automatic shut off feature, meaning the treadmill will abruptly stop running if you lose your footing or need to stop your workout for any kind of emergency. 

Choosing the best treadmill for you

Choosing which treadmill to buy isn’t a cookie-cutter decision. There’s not a one-size-fits-all machine, and the selection process depends on many factors.

As a result, what you’ll look for when you’re shopping depends on your goals. You’ll also need to consider your space. Treadmills are large pieces of equipment, and you need to have adequate room.

When buying a treadmill, first off consider the running surface, specifically the length and the width. Most are fairly similar in size, but if you’ve got a wide running gait for instance, you’ll want a treadmill with a wider surface area. 

The power of the motor is also important, and while the horsepower delivered is important, the key factor here is the continuous speed provided. If a treadmill will only achieve your average pace, then you’ll quickly end up burning the motor out.

As we’ve touched on, to help avoid injury, good cushioning is key on a treadmill, while those looking to do serious efforts will want to get a running machine that has an incline setting to help mimic ascents. 

The control panel is another important factor, with some offering large full-color displays and access to a range of workout and training modes. Some even offer interactive training via GoogleMaps, which will allow you to set a route, with the treadmill replicating the terrain to a point (provided you have an incline mode).  

Purchasing a new treadmill can be likened to purchasing a car,” said Pete Schenk, president of LifeSpan Fitness. “You should purchase based on treadmill capabilities first and foremost. Whatever attractive features are built in should be viewed as a bonus.”

Schenk also said many first-time buyers are swayed by a feature or two and are then disappointed when the treadmill needs repairs just a few months down the road. 

How much should you spend on a treadmill?

Treadmill price points are driven by many factors. These include the quality of the treadmill’s design components, its durability, the type and size of its display and the features of its console. You’ll want to think ahead about how much you can afford to spend and where you want your money to go. For example, if the stability of the machine is what matters most to you, you might not need to spend additional money on an upgraded console. However, if connectivity is your priority, you might be willing to pay more for a larger screen and more features. As you determine your budget, we recommend paying more attention to engineering and technology than to brand names. Also, making a larger upfront investment may save you repair and replacement headaches in the future.

“In this industry, no manufacturer has the luxury of over-pricing their treadmill options,” said Brant Brooks, Etail account manager at LifeSpan Fitness, “so you get what you pay for, so-to-speak, in respect to build quality. While budget models may look attractive from a price standpoint and may work for a very casual user, an owner will likely run it into the ground within a year or two with moderate to heavy use.”

Performance

If you want to get the most out of your treadmill, you’ll want to consider the size of its running surface, the quality of its belt, the cushioning of its deck and the power of its motor. It’s also important to determine how many people in your household will use the machine, how intensely each person exercises and how console features and technology can help you achieve your fitness goals.

In recent years, improvements have been made industry-wide to make home treadmills more energy efficient, durable, useful and enjoyable. From making advancements in the stability of folding treadmills to adding workout tracking, Bluetooth compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity to consoles, manufacturers are responding to consumer needs.

“One recent technological advancement that is forging the future of in-home fitness is the inclusion of live workout classes and friendly competition via social-active apps such as RunSocial,” said Brooks.

This trend to integrate with popular fitness apps is enhancing the performance not only of the best treadmills but also of the best elliptical machines. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health or reduce stress, home fitness equipment is becoming an increasingly popular tool to help you reach your goals.

Safety Features

It’s important to make sure the treadmill you buy has an automatic shut off feature of some kind. This means the treadmill will abruptly stop running if you lose your footing or need to stop your workout for any kind of emergency.

The automatic shutoff feature on most treadmills is controlled with a small plastic key. In order for the machine to run, the key has to be inserted in a slot on the front of the treadmill, usually toward the bottom and under any kind of interactive screen. The key is connected to the treadmill by a string so that when pulled, the key slides out of its slot causing the whole thing to turn off. The key’s location is important because you’ll be able to grab the string and stop the machine if you fall forward. When installing it, make sure you leave enough loose string hanging to get your hand around. If for any reason you lose your treadmill key, you can buy replacements at numerous stores or through Amazon. They usually cost less than $10.

Even with a safety key, make sure there is plenty of open space around your treadmill. If your treadmill randomly shuts off for no apparent reason, this is unrelated to the safety features and usually means there is a problem with the treadmill's belt not being able to move smoothly.

Some treadmills also have an automatic pause function. This means if you step off the treadmill at all for a given period of time – usually less than a minute – the machine will pause the belt. We can see this being useful if you have to hop off quickly to grab something off the stove or keep your family pet from eating something important. Still, you should always try to shut off the treadmill yourself before walking away even for a moment.

Best running apps for treadmill workouts 

All the treadmills we tested come with built-in workout programs, but if you grow tired or need some extra motivation from certified trainers and professional runners, a running app is a better option. The best mobile applications have workouts specifically designed for treadmill running.  

Nike+ Run Club

This app has more than 50 guided runs and six workouts specifically designed for treadmills. The treadmill workouts last 15 to 30 minutes and include audio instructions, pace and incline settings and tips from Nike running coaches. Each workout is paired with a custom music playlist if you sync a Spotify or Apple Music account. Additionally, all the training and tracking features are available for free on iOS and Android devices.

Peloton Digital

You don’t need an expensive Peloton treadmill to take advantage of this running app and its vast library of exercises. Unlike Nike Run Club, this app requires a monthly membership fee of $19.49, but it has more than 175 treadmill running classes that range from 10 to 60 minutes. In addition to the treadmill workouts, Peloton Digital also has more than 10,000 on-demand exercises, including strength training, yoga and floor workouts. If you are looking for some external motivation, this app has a wide variety of virtual instructors with more than 15 new exercises added daily.

Best fitness trackers for treadmills 

The best treadmills we tested have chest-strap and pulse-grip heart-rate monitors. If you want more accurate readings, workout archives and personalized fitness feedback, a wrist-worn fitness tracker is the best solution. Here are some of our favorite fitness trackers that cost less than $150.

Garmin Vivosmart 4
The Vivosmart 4 tracks heart rate, blood oxygenation and sleep patterns, and it has a unique Body Battery feature that tells you your body’s optimal active time and when you need to rest. The rechargeable battery lasts up to seven days on a single charge or five days with the Pulse Ox sleep-tracking function enabled. This fitness tracker’s design is a little boring compared to other wearable devices from Garmin. However, it has a slim silicone strap that’s comfortable and available in four color options. Unlike the Fitbit fitness trackers, the band on the Vivosmart 4 is permanently attached to the sensor, so it’s impossible to customize.

Fitbit Charge 3
The Charge 3 automatically begins monitoring your activity when you start a treadmill workout and sends your heart rate and calories burned to the Fitbit app or other popular fitness apps, like Apple Health and MyFitnessPal. The touchscreen is simple to use and has a backlit display that’s easier to read than those on smaller trackers like the Vivosmart 4. This fitness tracker has customizable clock faces and swappable bands that make it an attractive accessory.

Treadmill Maintenance 

Like any piece of machinery or technology, it’s important to keep your treadmill clean and working properly. Start small with daily cleanings. Wipe down the treadmill every day after you use it to prevent any moisture buildup on important electronics. Then, check the walking belt and deck once each week. Make sure it's running centered without any snags, and listen for any scraping sounds. You should also vacuum the area around the machine, if possible. If dirt and dust build up on the floor, it could migrate to the delicate mechanical parts at the base of the machine and cause problems. Every month, double check the bolts, and make sure the treadmill frame is secure. If you notice any strange noises or the machine feels shaky when you run, stop immediately and check the bolts.

Large scale maintenance only needs to happen once a year. We recommend vacuuming the motor compartment carefully to remove built-up dust and grime. Don't touch any mechanical or electronic parts with the nozzle of the vacuum. You should also lubricate your treadmill once each year. Keep the manual on hand, and consult it if you need to, as you might just need to restart the machine.

If the electrical components of your treadmill start glitching, it's time to call a professional or the company you ordered the machine from. If you keep experiencing problems with the treadmill’s computer components, it’s most likely a larger problem you won’t be able to fix yourself.

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How active are you through the working day?

ProductPriceOverall RatingPriceDesignBuilt-In AccessoriesWarranties & SupportWorkout & Monitoring FeaturesFree ShippingMaximum SpeedMaximum InclineMaximum DeclineMaximum User WeightRunning Surface WidthRunning Surface LengthMotor (countinuous-duty horsepower)Shock Absorption DeckWorkout ProgramsIndividual User IDsCustom ProgramsHeart Rate Monitor - Hand GripsHeart Rate Monitor - Wireless Chest StrapDisplay SizeDisplay TypeConnectivityCooling FansWater Bottle/Accessory Compartment Audio SystemSmartphone/Tablet HolderIntegrated Wi-FiFoldableFrameMotorPartsLaborSupportLengthWidthHeightWeight
NordicTrack Commercial 1750 TreadmillView Deal4.5/544.34.94.94.8Yes1215330022603.63847Full Color HD TouchscreenBluetooth Compatible, Google Maps Technology, On-demand Video Streaming, iFit Membership IncludedDual AutoBreeze FanTwo 3-inch Digitally Amplified Speakers and Aux Music PortXLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Manuals, FAQs72.253461310
Bowflex BXT216View Deal4.5/54.74.354.43.3Yes12150400226041149White Backlit LCDBluetooth Compatible, Google Maps Technology, On-demand Video Streaming, iFit Membership Included3-speed FanIntegrated Speaker Sound System15 Years15 Years5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Videos, Manuals, FAQs84.636.355.2304
LifeSpan TR4000iView Deal4.5/553.74.53.54.9Yes1215035020603.252116Blue Backlit LCDBluetooth Compatible, Google Maps Technology, On-demand Video Streaming, iFit Membership Included3-speed FanSpeakers, USB Port and Audio-in JackLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Contact Form, Manuals, FAQs74.53256226
Horizon Elite T7-02View Deal4/54.34.73.54.44.5Yes12150350206034228.5Blue Backlit LCDBluetooth Compatible, Wi-Fi Enabled, ViaFit Connectivity, Passport Ready to Sync with Home TVYesSpeakers and USB PortLifetimeLifetime5 Years1 YearPhone, Email, Videos, Manuals, Troubleshooting Guide773560227
ProForm SMART Pro 5000View Deal4.5/53.84.74.94.74.8Yes12153300226043817Full Color HD TouchscreeniFit Wireless TechnologyDual CoolAire Workout FanBuilt-in Sound System with Dual 3-inch Speakers, iPod and MP3 CompatibleXLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Videos, Manuals, Online Support Guide77.1639.1570291
ProForm SMART Pro 90004/53.354.94.24.8Yes121533002260440110Full Color HD TouchscreeniFit Wireless TechnologyDual CoolAire Workout FanAudio Auxiliary Port with Dual 3-inch Speakers XLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Videos, Manuals, Online Support Guide77.1639.1570320
NordicTrack Commercial 2950View Deal4/52.55554.8Yes1215330022604.2543422Full Color HD TouchscreenBluetooth Compatible, Google Maps Technology, On-demand Video Streaming, iFit Membership IncludedThree Auto-adjusting Fans Two 3-inch Digitally Amplified Speakers and Aux Music PortXLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Chat, Manuals, FAQs72.253461363.76
Sole F80 TreadmillView Deal4/53.73.44.83.74.8Yes1215037522603.5829White BacklitBluetooth Compatible, Syncs with Sole, Fitbit, Record, Mapmyrun and Apple Health AppsYesBuilt-in Speakers, iPod/MP3 CompatibleLifetimeLifetime5 Years2 YearsPhone, Email, Contact Form, Videos, FAQs823757278
Matrix Fitness TF50 Treadmill with XR ConsoleView Deal0/52.74.83.953.9Yes12.515040020603.251120Varies by ConsoleBluetooth Compatible, Wi-Fi Enabled, ViaFit Connectivity, Sprint 8 Compatible, Passport Ready to Sync with Home TVNoVaries by ConsoleVaries by ConsoleLifetimeLifetime7 Years2 YearsPhone, Email, Customer Service Form, Videos, Troubleshooting Guide, FAQs813562298
Precor TRM 223View Deal3.5/52.91.94.33.33.4No1215030020553925High contrast blue-white LCDNot ConnectedNoiPod/iPhone & Android Volume ControlLifetimeNot Specified5 Years1 YearCustomer Service Form, Videos, Troubleshooting Guide, FAQs813359238