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Best treadmills 2021: The top-rated running machines for home

Best treadmills 2021: Plus the top folding treadmills for home
(Image credit: Getty)

The best treadmills enable you to walk, jog and run indoors. Maybe you want to run outside but don’t want to brave the weather, or you don’t feel safe running outside. Whatever your reasons, a running machine will help you get fit from the comfort of your home. In short, they’re ideal for improving cardio health, building stamina and losing weight. Treadmills are also good for helping you transition from walking to jogging, as they offer different speeds to suit your progress.

If you enjoy interval training and hiking, you can do both of those too. Two critical factors when choosing the best treadmill for home workouts are space and budget. You can buy running machines for under $500, but the higher-end models cost $1,000 or more. 

We tested five of the best treadmills for home use, from top fitness brands including Bowflex, NordicTrack and ProForm. We also consulted a treadmill expert from LifeSpan Fitness, and looked at hundreds of running machine user reviews to bring you our independent best treadmills guide.

Our promise to you

These include our best-rated treadmill overall, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750, as well as the super-popular ProForm Smart Pro 9000.

Size-wise, there are folding treadmills, like the Mobvoi Home Treadmill, that slide under a sofa or bed. These are compact, lightweight and perfect for small homes. In comparison to something like an exercise bike, you’ll need ample space to set up a treadmill at home. If you have hard flooring or new carpet, we'd recommend investing an exercise mat to protect your flooring from the running machine's base.

The very best treadmills track your distance covered, plus metrics like heart rate, calories burned and minutes spent working out. This is handy if you don’t own one of the best fitness trackers to monitor your exercise. Let’s take a look at the top-rated options now to help you find a good-value running machine for your home… 


Best treadmills: Our top three picks

What the experts say

Best treadmills: Two people take part in cardio exercise using treadmills for home workouts

(Image credit: Getty)

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

Schenk also says that many first-time buyers are initially swayed by a cool feature or two, but are often disappointed when the treadmill needs repairs only a few months down the road. 

“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,” says Schenk.

Working out your budget is important so that you can buy the best treadmill you can afford, rather than just opting for the cheapest. While cheap treadmills with a good build quality do exist, you normally get what you pay for in terms of materials, durability and warranty.

Best treadmill for home overall

Best treadmills for home: NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill for home

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

The best running machine for a gym-level performance at home

Specifications
Dimensions: 72.25L X 34W X 61H"
Weight: 110kg
Tread belt size: 22x60"
Max user weight: 135kg (21.2 stone)
Display: 10-inch HD Touch Screen Display
Features: Low Impact Cushion, Bluetooth Compatible Dual 3-Inch Speakers, Dual AutoBreeze Workout Fans
Speed: 0-22km/h
Incline: -3%-15% Digital Incline control
Warranty: Lifetime frame warranty, 10-year motor warranty, two-year parts and labour
Reasons to buy
+16,000+ on demand workouts+Low Impact Cushion reduces strain+Built-in tablet holder
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

NordicTrack is a well-known home fitness brand, making pro-level cardio machines including some of the best elliptical machines for a full body workout. The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill is a gym-grade running machine for your home, and is consistently among the world's best-rated treadmills. 

It’s designed to be quiet in use, and loaded with features to help you develop as a runner, or to progress if you’re a seasoned runner. 

The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill comes with a free one-year membership to iFit Family, which enables you to create profiles for up to four users. iFit Family is an online fitness program that gives you access to over 16,000 on-demand fitness classes with some of the fitness world’s most popular running coaches and personal trainers. 

The membership is worth $468, so it’s a great extra to have when first buying the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill. iFit Family membership costs $33 a month outside of the free trial period, or $15 for iFit Individual.

What the users say

The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 scores 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 1,200 reviews. Many existing customers love the treadmill itself, and how great it is to walk and run on. Others complain that it's very heavy to move around during initial setup, and how you need to hand over your credit card details to take up the free iFit Family subscription, even though you won't be charged.

If you don’t fancy continuing with the iFit membership once your free year’s subscription has ended, use the treadmill in manual mode and devise your own walking or running workouts. Or, to mix up your home exercise routine, use any of the the 38 built-in workout programs.

The treadmill itself is pretty much faultless. The Commercial 1750 is well made and durable, which means it's also heavy, so don’t think about trying to move it around your home unless you have fitted the wheels (rollers) first.

NordicTrack has designed this home treadmill to accommodate a maximum user weight of 300lbs, and have fitted it with adjustable FlexSelect deck cushioning to reduce impact on your ankles and knees as you run. For interval training, there’s digital incline control (-3 decline to -15% incline), plus speeds of up to 12mph.

Like other models in our best treadmills guide, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 has an EKG grip pulse, and tracks time, speed, distance covered and calories burned during each walking or running workout.  

While the HD touchscreen is relatively small compared to the overall size of the treadmill, the display is clear and easy to view, with two built-in speakers enabling you to exercise along with your favorite workouts. To keep you comfortable while exercising, the Commercial 1750 will blast you with a dual AutoBreeze fan.

Best treadmill for training

Best treadmills: ProForm Smart Pro 9000 Treadmill

(Image credit: ProForm)

Best treadmill for interval training at home

Specifications
Dimensions: 77L x 39W x 70H”
Tread belt size: 22x60"
Max user weight: 300lbs
Display: 10-inch HD touchscreen
Features: Folding treadmill design, built-in speakers, 40 built-in workouts
Speeds: 0-12%
Incline: -3-15%
Warranty: 10-year frame warranty, two-year parts warranty, one-year labor warranty
Reasons to buy
+Automatic incline and decline+Cushioning reduces impact by 28%+Built-in heart rate monitoring
Reasons to avoid
-Slow customer service

The ProForm Smart Pro 9000 Treadmill is great for interval training because it has deck cushioning with an air compression chamber designed to minimize impact on your hips, ankles, knees and feet when you switch between sprinting and running.

The treadmill also has balanced 2.5-inch rollers and is built to be stable and sturdy enough for full-pelt sprints. The SmartPRO 9000 has a 4.0 continuous-drive horsepower motor built to work hard without overheating - that's powerful for a treadmill for the home. 

It also has a 22x60-inch running deck, as with four of the other models in our best treadmills guide, and provides you with automatic incline and decline control depending on the workout you're doing. ProForm describes the tread belt as maintenance-free, though we didn't test the machine for long enough to know if that's the case longterm. 

What the users say

The ProForm Smart Pro 9000 Treadmill has 113 reviews averaging 3.9 out of 5 stars on Target, and five reviews averaging 4.6 out of 5 stars on Walmart. Positive reviews praised the cushioned running deck, there to reduce impact, and the ample space for getting in longer strides when running and sprinting. The less favorable reviews, while in the minority, mentioned issues with Bluetooth connectivity, and how ProForm's customer service was poor. The reviews are mostly positive though, with users saying this is a good treadmill for home use.

Like the NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill above, this ProForm treadmill has 40 onboard workouts. Unlike the NordicTrack, the Smart Pro 9000 won't cost you the earth. However, you also don't get that glorious 21.5-inch HD touchscreen display as you do on the NordicTrack.

The ProForm Smart Pro 9000 Treadmill sports two EKG hand-grip sensors, plus it comes with a wireless chest strap to accurately track your heart rate during each workout. 

The ten-inch HD touchscreen display feels somewhat small compared to the giant NordicTrack offering, but it's actually fractionally larger than most standard treadmill display sizes. Overall, this is a great choice if you want a treadmill for home use but don't want to spend a crazy amount to buy one.

Best cheap under-desk treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill

(Image credit: Sunny Health & Fitness)

Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill

Walk this way for a treadmill to sit underneath your standing desk

Specifications
Dimensions: 50L x 21.5W x 6.5H”
Tread belt size: 39 (L) x 14 (W)”
Max user weight: 220lbs
Display: 14 x 5” digital monitor
Features: Remote control operation
Speed: 0-3.75mph
Incline: None
Warranty: Three-year structural frame; 180 days on parts and components
Reasons to buy
+Slim and lightweight+Wheels for easy rolling
Reasons to avoid
-Low max weight capacity-No incline mode

The Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation is very different to the rest of the machines featured in our best treadmills guide. That’s because it’s designed for walking, and for use underneath a standing desk. So don’t go anywhere near this machine if you plan on progressing from walking to running - it isn’t designed for it and you’ll have wasted your money. 

With that out of the way, there are definitely uses for such an under-desk treadmill like this one. Namely, they help you stay physically active while working a desk job. 

By now we’re all more aware of the dangers of sitting too long, so the Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill could help you avoid that. Especially if you team it with a height adjustable desk or converter.

What the users say

The user reviews for Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation under-desk treadmill are mainly favorable, but there are a couple of negative user reviews worth flagging. There’s only 22 user reviews of the Walkstation on the brand’s website, with an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Customers comment that it’s “Great for daily walks indoors”, and how it “barely takes up any space.” On Amazon it scores a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, but this is also where we find the more biting reviews. Complaints focus on poor build quality, the narrow deck, and poor customer service. 

For what it’s designed to do - help you walk more indoors - the Walkstation does it well. It’s also compact and designed with transportation wheels so you can easily move it to a new spot. Many customers push it under furniture when not in use, if they don’t have a desk to leave it under. 

So if you want a walking treadmill to get up your daily steps, whatever the weather, this could be a cheap solution. That said, the maximum speed is just 3.75mph and there’s no incline mode, so it won’t ever challenge you or get your heart rate up. It’s a machine built for steady plodding along. 

We can definitely see its use for walking-working sessions, and for absolute beginners who would like to get fit through walking but need to take a slow pace. But if you want a treadmill to help you progress from walking to running, look elsewhere in this guide because the Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill just isn’t built for it.

Best folding treadmill

Best treadmills: LifeSpan TR4000i Folding Treadmill for home

(Image credit: LifeSpan)

Simply the best treadmill if you're on a tight budget

Specifications
Dimensions: 73L x 34.5W x 55.5"H (Folded: 40.5L x 34.5 W x 65.5"H)
Weight: 239.5lbs
Tread belt size: 22x60 inches
Max user weight: 350lbs
Display: 7-inch color touchscreen
Features: Contact heart rate sensors, built-in Bluetooth speakers
Speeds: 0.5-12mph
Incline: Two decline levels, 13 incline levels
Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor warranty, five-year parts warranty, two-year labor warranty
Reasons to buy
+Easy to assemble+Has a patented auto-pause safety feature
Reasons to avoid
-Not as sturdy as others during sprints-User interface isn’t intuitive

The LifeSpan TR4000i Folding Treadmill enables you to get in walking and running workouts at home whenever you want. The running surface measures 22x60 inches, which is a standard size among most models in our best treadmills guide. 

There’s also a six-inch color touchscreen display, though it isn’t as high-res as the displays on the more expensive running machines. Still, it's enough to easily follow along with a guided running workout.

The LifeSpan TR4000i Folding Treadmill utilizes eight compression shocks to reduce vibration as you run. In theory this should reduce impact on your ankles, knees and other joints, as well as helping to keep the noise down as you run. This is vital if you plan on keeping your new running machine in an upstairs bedroom, or if you live in an apartment above another person.

What the users say

The LifeSpan TR4000i Folding Treadmill scores a 4.5 out of 5 stars on LifeSpan's site, and 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Existing customers praised the treadmill for being sturdy and quiet in use, and how easy it is to assemble. Bluetooth connectivity seems to a be a mixed bag, with some customers experiencing no issues, and others having trouble syncing various fitness devices to the treadmill. Another user complained that customer support was patchy, and that the belt seemed to slip on occasion, but overall users seem pleased with the treadmill for the price.

LifeSpan has also designed the TR4000i Folding Treadmill with integrated Bluetooth so that you can sync the running machine with your phone to listen to music or a podcast. Of course you could skip that and use your favorite workout headphones instead. 

There are 21 preprogrammed workouts for weight management, healthy living and sports training, plus contact heart rate sensors. The console readouts give you nine points of workout data, including calories burned, distance covered, number of steps, pace and elevation change.

The max user weight is 350lbs, while the treadmill itself weighs just under 240lbs. An EZfold hydraulic folding system plus four mounted wheels makes for easier folding, moving and storage. We also like the three-speed cooling fan, and how if you step off the deck for more than 20 seconds, the belt pauses for safety reasons.

Best treadmill with high weight capacity

Best treadmills: Bowflex BXT216 treadmill for home

(Image credit: Bowflex)

If you want a 400lb capacity treadmill, step on this

Specifications
Dimensions: 84.5(L) x 38.5(W) x 54.7(H)"
Tread belt size: 22x60"
Max user weight: 400lbs
Display: 9-inch color LCD screen
Features: 11 built-in workouts,
Speeds: 0-12mph
Incline: 0-15%
Warranty: 15-year frame and drive warranty, five-year motor and mechanical, two-year parts, electronics and labor
Reasons to buy
+Supports users of up to 400lbs+ComfortTech deck reduces impact+Folding treadmill design
Reasons to avoid
-Belt can be tricky to adjust

The Bowflex BXT216 Treadmill looks and acts like a gym-grade cardio machine, but is priced for home use instead. It's one of the best treadmills for hitting that sweet spot between generous features and a more affordable price tag, and is built by one of the biggest names in home exercise equipment.

The running surface is the same as the LifeSpan and NordicTrack models, measuring 22x60 inches, and the treadmill uses a hydraulic system to make folding and unfolding easier. While we're not mad about the nine-inch color LCD display, we're pleased to see a media rack, within which you can dock your tablet.

What the users say

The Bowflex BXT216 scores 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 200 ratings. 67% of reviews are five-star, while 17% are four-star, so the overall user experience is very positive. Existing customers praise the easy and fast setup, and how well the cushioned deck absorbs sound. They also praised how smooth it runs, and that the fan can be programmed for different speeds. Critical reviews complained that the belt stopped working within the first year, and that the built-in speakers are patchy. Less favorable reviews are in the minority on this machine.

The one-touch speed and incline adjustments are super-easy to use, so you won't have to slow down to fiddle around with any incline levels. We also like how the Bowflex BXT216 supports users of up to 400lbs, rather than the standard 300lbs found on many other treadmills.

This is important because many treadmill brands recommend choosing a running machine than can support 50lbs over your body weight in order to avoid running the treadmill belt into the ground.

Overall, the Bowflex BXT216 is a powerful treadmill for home use, and offers enough to tempt serious runners as well as small families all looking to use the same treadmill - it can be programmed for up to four individual users. 

Wireless heart rate monitoring is here, and the BXT216 will also display your calories burned, distance covered, steps taken and elevation. You'll find these metrics on the Burn Rate console. 

We also liked the cushioned side rails and variable response deck cushioning, which not only reduced impact and the sound our our feet hitting the deck, but also produced a more realistic run feel.

Best treadmill for guided workouts

Best treadmills: NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill for home

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

Enjoy ample guided workouts and GoogleMaps runs

Specifications
Dimensions: 66.9H x 39.3W x 78.3D" (Folded 74.8H x 39.3W x 36.6D")
Weight: 315lbs
Tread belt size: 22x60"
Max user weight: 297lbs
Display: 21.5-inch HD touchscreen
Features: Year's free iFit subscription, Runners Flex Cushioning,
Speeds: 0-12mph
Incline: -3-15%
Warranty: Lifetime frame warranty, ten-year motor warranty, two-year parts and labor warranty
Reasons to buy
+21.5-inch HD touchscreen+16,000+ workouts on demand
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill has 40 onboard workouts, so there's plenty here to keep you occupied right out of the box. This running machine comes with a year's free iFit Family membership, enabling you to stream over 16,000 studio level exercise classes in your own home.

You can also virtually run anywhere in the world with GoogleMaps, and get real-time performance stat tracking to see how hard you're working during each of your runs (or walking workouts). The Commercial 2950 Treadmill for home use has pulse grips to monitor your heart rate, and also comes with a wireless chest strap for more accurate heart rate tracking. 

The 21.5-inch HD touchscreen is one the most impressive treadmill displays we’ve seen. Watching guided workouts on the NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill's display is so easy, and the screen is big enough that you can follow along with mat-based workouts, including yoga, when you're exercising away from the machine.

What the users say

The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 with iFit has over 1,900 workout reviews on the brand's website, averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars on NordicTrack. It has over 1,100 reviews with an average score of 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Users rated the high build quality of the treadmill but complained about the cost of an iFit subscription after the trial period is over. It's worth noting that you can use the treadmill in manual mode if you don't want to use iFit. While some said its just too heavy, others praised how smooth and responsive it is to run upon.

The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill has a 4.25 continuous-duty horsepower motor, which is powerful for a home running machine. It also has the same size running surface as the Bowflex BXT216 and the NordicTrack Commercial 1750. The maximum speed is a standard 12mph, and you can adjust the incline and decline for a varied or more challenging workout. 

The Commercial 2950 is by far the heaviest running machine in our best treadmills guide, so you won't be moving it around too often once it's installed in your home. It does have a hydraulic shock mechanism to help you fold it away, though this treadmill is so stunning, we'd leave it out constantly. 

The Commercial 2950 also has an integrated accessory tray, dual workout fans to keep you cool as you exercise, and digitally amplified speakers. That way you can loose yourself in the soundtracked workouts on offer via iFit if you haven't created your own running soundtrack just yet.

Home treadmill buying advice

How much do the best treadmills for home cost?

Treadmill price points are driven by many factors. These include the quality of the materials and the design components, the type and size of the treadmill's display, and the features it has on offer (such as built-in speakers and onboard workouts). 

If you want to get the most out of a 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 the motor. It’s also important to determine how many people in your household will use the running machine, how intensely each person exercises, and whether you need in-depth fitness tracking from the machine.

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'll have to pay more for a larger display and Bluetooth connectivity. 

Investing in the best treadmill you can afford right from the start may save you repair and replacement headaches in the future. You can can expect to pay anywhere from $700 upwards for a good treadmill, though real top-flight running machines can cost thousands. 

These come with lifetime warranties though, so over time they do become more cost-effective than a cheaper treadmill with a small warranty and that constantly needs replacing.


Treadmills vs running outside: Which is best?

Whether a treadmill or running outside is better for you depends on how you prefer to exercise. Some runners enjoy outdoor running for fresh air, sunlight and variety, and find treadmills boring. 

What’s more, you’ll activate more muscles when you run outside because you’re not running in a straight, reasonably fixed way. Instead, you’ll turn, move, navigate corners, run up hills and generally have more freedom. 

A woman runs on a treadmill in her living room

(Image credit: Getty)

It also makes sense to run outside if you’re training for a specific race because you need to get used to the wind, how the ground feels, and different temperatures.

Other people love the structure of running on a treadmill. They like to see exactly how well they’re performing on the screen, or enjoy the flexibility of running in their home whenever they want.

The best treadmills are also designed to better protect your joints from the impact of running. This is vital if you’re recovering from an injury. It also suits people who don’t find outdoor running accessible or safe.

So when it comes to treadmills vs running outside, both have pros and cons. Either will help you get faster, stronger and fitter, though for race training you should focus more on running outside.


Are treadmills bad for your knees?

Any high impact physical activity can take a toll on your knees. So yes, running creates stress for your knees, but it’s not always bad news. Especially if you add variety, go slow in the beginning, and warm up and down properly. The best handheld massagers, especially percussive models, are ideal for helping you to warm up before a run, and to boost post-workout recovery.

Many runners benefit from the solid ground of outdoor running. It provides more ground reaction forces, which can strengthen knees and joints. In contrast, running machines absorb ground reaction forces. This means they are better for your joints if you want to go easy on your knees or you’re recovering from injury.

Best treadmills: A woman walks on a treadmill to keep fit

(Image credit: ShutterStock)

However, even the best treadmills for home use can cause aches and pains because many people don’t run with a natural stride. That’s why it’s best to start by walking and jogging to get used to it. It would be best if you also aimed to run with your whole feet rather than on your tiptoes – a bad habit some people develop when they run on a treadmill.

So treadmills aren't bad for your knees – especially for people starting out and recovering – but, like all kinds of exercise, it’s best to start slow. If you choose outdoor running, add variety and weekly strength training to protect your knees and joints. And if you encounter any pain, stop running and speak to your doctor.


Can you lose weight on a treadmill?

Treadmills are a great choice of cardio machine to help you lose weight if a doctor has advised you too, but only as part of a varied exercise and nutrition plan. That involves cardio and weight training, and a healthy diet. 

Here are the best treadmill exercises to help you achieve different health and fitness goals...

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 still comfortable. This will really work your hamstrings. For fast results, alternate between running on a flat surface and at an incline.

Increase endurance
Endurance training is a vital part of being able to run for long periods of time, such as in a marathon. We'd recommend using a proper running app or training plan to help you build up stamina, starting with shorter runs of 20-30 minutes, then progressing, over a series of weeks to much longer runs.

Lose weight
If you’re looking to lose weight, you should use interval workouts. Warm up, and then move to a brisk walking pace for around two 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 needed.


How to choose the best treadmill for you

Picking the best running machine for home use involves many different factors. For example, the space available, how much budget you have to spend on a treadmill, and how many people will be using it. Here are some specifics to look at...

Running surface
When buying a treadmill, don't pick anything with a running surface that measures less than 20x60 inches if you want to really stretch your legs. Not only is a wider and longer running surface more comfortable, it's needed for you to properly run. This is especially important if you are tall or have long legs.

A woman runs on the Mobvoi treadmill in her living room

Mobvoi's Home Treadmill folds up so small, you can slide it under your bed. (Image credit: Mobvoi)

Motor power and speed
While the horsepower is important (most treadmills average 3-4), the key factor here is the continuous speed provided. If a treadmill will only achieve your average pace, you’ll quickly end up burning the motor out. Most models in this best treadmills guide have a top speed of 12mph, which is ample for most people.

Incline/decline
To mimic ascents and descents, choose a treadmill with a decline and incline function. Declines are good for feeling as though you are running or walking downhill at pace, while inclines help you feel as though you are climbing. A good range is -3-15%.

Control panel (console)
Some treadmills are designed with large, full-color touchscreen displays, giving you swift access to a range of onboard workout and training modes. Some offer interactive training via GoogleMaps, where you can run anywhere in the world virtually. The treadmill will replicate the terrain to a point, provided you have an incline mode on your machine.  


How to clean a treadmill to help it run better

Like any piece of home exercise equipment, it’s important to keep your treadmill clean and working properly. This can involve cleaning down the treadmill after each use to prevent moisture and bacteria buildup on the handrails and controls. 

Make sure it's running centered without any snags, and listen for scraping sounds. You should also vacuum the area around the treadmill. If dirt and dust builds up on the floor, it could migrate to the delicate mechanical parts at the base of the running 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 again.

Because of the high build quality of the best treadmills, large scale maintenance only needs to happen once a year. We recommend vacuuming the motor compartment carefully to remove built-up dust and grime. You should also lubricate your running machine once a year to keep it running smoothly.

If the electrical components start glitching, take advantage of your parts warranty and call the manufacturer to service it and make any repairs.

Treadmill glossary

  • Alternating current (AC) motor – powerful motors most commonly found on commercial grade treadmills, though some top-end home treadmills also use them.
  • Accessory tray – where you can place certain small objects such as your phone, headphones and water bottle (if the treadmill does not have a water bottle holder).
  • Belt – the treadmill belt. This is what drives the treadmill and is also the surface you run and walk on.
  • Console – the display upon which you’ll see various fitness metrics such as calories burned, distance covered, and elevation.
  • Cooling fan – a fan or fans built into the treadmill to cool you down during exercise. You often find these on mid to high priced treadmills.
  • CHP – Continuous duty horsepower, with the number indicating the amount of power a motor generates. Most home treadmills’ CHP is 3.0 to 4.0.
  • DC motor – Direct current motor, commonly found on treadmills for home use. These run via a constant power source.
  • Deck – the running surface of the treadmill (also known as the belt). Deck sizes vary, but all of the decks featured in our best treadmills guide are 20x66-inches or larger.
  • Decline – often displayed as a percentage, and indicates the point to which a treadmill will descend to create the sensation of running downhill.
  • Drive train – a mechanical system transmitting power from one place to another, and comprising a drive belt, motor and rollers.
  • Handrail – one on either side of the treadmill, these are the places where you hold onto the treadmill to steady yourself when transitioning between running and walking, or stopping.
  • Heart rate monitor – built-in sensors, usually in the handrails, to monitor your heart-rate as you workout on the treadmill.
  • iFit – a digital exercise program found on many treadmills and exercise bikes. You usually get the first year’s membership for free, giving you access to a variety of workouts.
  • Incline – often displayed as a percentage, and indicates the point to which a treadmill will increase vertically to create the sensation of climbing or running up a hill.
  • LCD screen – Liquid Crystal Display, commonly found on cheaper treadmills.
  • Media stand – while some treadmills have built-in displays, others have a media stand so that you can safely insert your tablet to watch along with workout videos.
  • Power switch – the main on/off button for the treadmill.
  • Pulse grips – usually found on treadmills with heart rate monitoring, these grips have built-in sensors to measure then produce a readout (on the console) of your beats per minute.
  • Safety key – a device designed to stop the treadmill instantly if you stumble or fall.
  • Speaker system – built-in speakers through which you can play music or listen to the exercise video you are playing through the treadmill or your mounted tablet.
  • Tracking – keeps the belt centered on the treadmill. 

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Claire Davies

Claire is Health and Wellness Editor at Top Ten Reviews and covers all aspects of health, wellbeing and personal care. With over 17 years' experience as a qualified journalist, writer and editor, Claire has worked across some of Future's most prestigious, market-leading brands. Due to past struggles with insomnia, she is particularly passionate about the role quality sleep plays in our physical and mental health, and loves helping readers to sleep better. Claire is always keen to hear from brands regarding products and services that can help readers feel healthy, happy and empowered.