The Best Treadmills for Walking That'll Help You Hit Your Step Goals in 2022 – Sports Illustrated
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Many people use treadmills for running, but you can get a great workout by using a treadmill for walking as well. Walking can improve circulation, support joint health, strengthen your muscles and even keep your bones strong. Yet sometimes, walking outside just isn’t possible for one reason or another. Adding a walking treadmill to a home gym can help you increase your cardio workouts while also offering you the convenience of walking indoors.
Whether you’re interested in intense cardio blasts or walking a few miles at a light pace, it’s important to find a treadmill that accommodates your fitness goals, health needs and budget. Our comprehensive guide to the best treadmills for walking can help you learn what types are available, why treadmills are beneficial, how to use them and anything else you should consider before making a purchase. After all, buying fitness equipment is a major investment. Read on for more information on our top picks and how to find the best walking treadmill for your needs.
For the ultimate incline walking experience, Bowflex Treadmill 10 is our top pick. With running deck cushioning and a negative five percent to 15 percent motorized incline, you can feel safe (and comfortable) when walking up steep hills without taking too much impact on your feet. This cushioning helps create a softer landing with shock absorption. Plus, you can easily switch incline settings from light to steep, which is why we love this treadmill for incline walking in particular; its speed and incline knobs let you tweak settings without breaking your stride. This foldable treadmill can be tucked away if needed, but still offers a 60-inch running surface to give you plenty of room to walk. It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity to connect your smart devices and heart rate monitor.
While Bowflex Treadmill 10 comes with a free one-year membership to JRNY, a digital fitness program, you’ll eventually need to purchase a subscription to have full access to all of the treadmill’s features once your annual trial is up. A JRNY membership costs $19.99/month or $149/year, but will net you access to virtual personal training, more than 200 scenic destinations worldwide to hike, run or walk through, and the ability to stream services like Netflix and Hulu, which require individual streaming subscriptions. Still, the treadmill comes with a built-in media shelf, so you can easily stream from your phone or tablet if a membership doesn’t work for you.
Purchase Bowflex Treadmill 10
ProForm Carbon T7 Treadmill offers a dynamic personal trainer experience with trainer-led workout programs for home use, going as far as automatically controlling your treadmill’s speed, incline and decline to keep up with the class. This also gives you a hands-free workout where you don’t have to worry about adjusting knobs. While we love this treadmill for its studio class workouts that you can access via a complimentary three-year iFIT Family Membership (which otherwise costs $39/month or $468/year), we love it even more for its foldable design.
As a smaller treadmill, ProForm Carbon T7 takes up minimal space folded or unfolded, but if you need to tuck it away in small spaces, you don’t have to worry about lifting heavy fitness equipment. This folding treadmill is designed with a special EasyLift™ Assist program that allows you to fold the product with just one push. Built-in, powerful shock keeps pressure off of your body while you push to fold, and it’s easy to move around your home, as well. In addition to being convenient, this treadmill is also comfortable. ProForm’s Carbon T7 is made with a built-in fan that offers three levels of breeze, plus a cushioned running deck that reduces impact on your feet.
Purchase ProForm Carbon T7 Treadmill
Whether you’re walking or running, NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is our winner for the best treadmill that accommodates both. That’s because this treadmill is designed with ActivePulse technology that automatically adjusts your speed and incline to maintain an optimal heart-rate zone tailored to you; it will adjust your interval training from walking to running as needed. To use this “cruise control” feature, however, you’ll need to purchase a SmartBeat™ Forearm Heart Monitor, which is sold separately through NordicTrack for $99. Still, if you want to move from low to top speed without breaking your stride, the extra investment may be worth it.
While ActivePulse technology is one of NordicTrack Commercial 1750’s top benefits, there are other standout features that bring this treadmill to our list. An oversized 14-inch HD touchscreen that tilts and pivots offers an immersive walking or running experience enhanced by the treadmill’s premium sound system. Plus, it’s integrated with Google Maps so you can work out where you want, when you want—whether that’s in the United States or Australia. The machine is designed with a quiet tread belt drive, so you don’t have to worry about noise. An extra-low running deck also makes it easier to get on or off of a NordicTrack Commercial 1750. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need an iFIT Family Membership to access all features; the treadmill comes with a complimentary one-month subscription that auto-renews at $39/month or $468/year. Still, for the price, it’s a more budget-friendly alternative to the Peloton Tread with similar capabilities.
Purchase NordicTrack Commercial 1750
Small space? No problem. XTERRA Fitness TR150 comes in an ultra-compact size that makes this walking treadmill our favorite for smaller home gyms. This no-frills machine is very budget-friendly and allows for daily workouts without splurging on a higher-end spend. For the price, you’ll get 12 preset programs and three manual incline settings to make your walk easier or more challenging. The compact treadmill comes with an integrated bookrack and accessory holder so you can keep your remote control, iPad, headphones and water bottle within reaching distance.
Made with a high-torque 2.25 horsepower motor that’s quiet despite its power, this simple machine offers a smooth walking experience complete with a five-inch LCD display interface; the display tracks metrics like calories burned, speed, distance and time. Hand pulse sensors on both handlebars also track your pulse throughout your workout to keep you in your target training zone. While XTERRA Fitness TR150 has few high-end features, it gets the job done and packs in a great workout at an equally great price. Plus, it easily folds up with a pull knob.
Purchase XTERRA Fitness TR150
An extra-wide walking surface makes the SOLE F63 treadmill an excellent choice for seniors. As a treadmill that works best for light walks and jogs, the machine comes with 15 incline levels and a 6.5-inch white, back-lit LCD screen, allowing you to clearly see your metrics at all times. While this treadmill doesn’t have a ton of high-end features, it offers a comfortable and customizable walk or jog thanks to its construction. The F63 is compatible with Bluetooth speakers, comes with a tablet holder and even has USB ports to charge your smart devices while you walk.
Its Cushion Flex Whisper Deck also claims to reduce joint impact by up to 40 percent, which can be helpful for senior adults with arthritis or other joint issues. Plus, the treadmill has a large stop switch, so you can quickly end your workout if needed. With solid specs and a quiet motor, this machine is built well with what many reviewers call “quality engineering.” The F63 offers six workout programs and two heart rate programs that offer training at 60 percent and 80 percent max, so hitting your metric goals doesn’t have to be complicated. The treadmill folds up easily, as well.
Purchase SOLE F63 Treadmill
If you’re living with joint pain, it’s helpful to use low-impact fitness equipment to keep pressure off of your joints. We’ve ranked Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT treadmill as our best treadmill for walking with joint pain because of its numerous ergonomic features. First, the treadmill deck is built with a shock-absorbing and ultra-cushioned material to allow flexibility and support as you walk; Horizon Fitness claims these features can reduce impact by up to 30 percent compared to road running. Since joint injuries are common in walking and running, using a treadmill that supports a solid toe-off is essential (as is wearing comfortable walking shoes). QuickDial controls also allow users to quickly change their speed and incline, so you don’t have to worry about breaking stride to adjust your walk. In addition, a 500-pound thrust incline motor offers a highly-responsive treadmill belt drive system that helps to reduce any lags or delays between speed and incline changes.
Overall, treadmills can be heavy, especially if you need to move them. Luckily, Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT comes with an easy folding mechanism that allows you to fold the machine with a bar at the base of the deck. This then locks the deck into place in a vertical position, keeping it secured when you’re not using it. A hydraulic release system gently brings the treadmill back down to the floor when you’re ready to walk. Together, these folding mechanisms reduce pressure on your joints and prevent the need for heavy pushing or pulling when folding or unfolding this treadmill.
Purchase Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT
Storing a treadmill horizontally is a great way to save on space and keep your machine out of sight if you need your home workout area for other activities, like hosting guests. Echelon Stride Auto-Fold Connected Treadmill can fold down to just 10-inches deep, so you can store it under a bed or even under some couches. It’s also thin enough to store against a wall. However, don’t be fooled by this machine’s folded dimensions: when unfolded, Echelon Stride offers a large 20-inch x 55-inch running surface that lends itself well to long walks. It also comes with eight programmed workouts and a built-in smart device holder so you can keep your smartphone or tablet handy.
Keep in mind, though, that an Echelon Membership is required at check out and necessary to use all of the treadmill’s connected features, such as live and on-demand walking and running classes that are available 24/7. This costs $34.99/month or $399.99 per year. You can also get a reduced cost if you purchase a two-year membership at $699, saving you $100 in total. While the treadmill only comes with a limited one-year warranty on parts and electronics, you can purchase an extended warranty for $119 for one year or $179 for two years.
Purchase Echelon Stride Auto-Fold Connected Treadmill
Unlike motorized treadmills, a manual treadmill offers walkers a self-propelled experience where you can control the speed and intensity of your workout on your own. AssaultRunner Pro comes in as our favorite manual treadmill because of its sleek design, high-quality steel build and small footprint, making it a great choice for smaller home gyms or apartments. A curved running belt is designed to offer a realistic experience for users that resembles working out outdoors. This feature also helps promote proper walking form. A shock-absorbent running belt helps reduce the risk of injury since it’s fully user-powered.
Manual treadmills are powered by your own stride, so the more you push, the more challenging your exercise can become. They also don’t require any electricity, so you can save on your electric bill, as well. Still, not everything is manual about this treadmill. AssaultRunner Pro is Bluetooth-enabled and programmed to connect to ANT+, a unique feature not often found in walking treadmills. Yet the ultra-high price tag may not work for some users, so it’s important to consider your fitness equipment budget before purchasing this high-end manual treadmill.
Purchase Assault Fitness’ AssaultRunner Pro Treadmill
Sunny Health & Fitness
You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to purchase a high-quality treadmill. For under $200, you can invest in a great piece of fitness equipment that ranks as our top pick for best budget treadmill for walking manually. This self-propelled treadmill comes in a compact size that easily fits into smaller homes, workout areas or apartments. It also includes soft foam hand grips that help you maintain your balance as you exercise; we enjoy this comfort feature since the treadmill has a slight incline that offers a moderately challenging walking experience.
While the digital monitor runs on the smaller side, it displays all the metrics you need to track your workouts, such as time, distance, speed and calories. This treadmill can also be folded up for storage, but dual weighted flywheels keep it steady when it’s unfolded and as you walk. In addition, floor stabilizers further support the treadmill, which can be helpful for uneven floors.
Purchase Sunny Health & Fitness Manual Walking Treadmill
Sunny Health & Fitness
As a budget-friendly fitness brand, Sunny Health & Fitness makes quality products at a low price. Our best treadmill for walking under $500 also comes from the Sunny Health & Fitness family. The brand’s SF-T4400 manual incline treadmill model features nine built-in workout programs, convenient handrail controls and a phone/tablet holder so you can stream music or shows while you exercise. We particularly like this treadmill for walking because of its shock absorption design, which reduces impact on your legs and feet and allows you to walk longer distances without getting fatigued as easily. A soft drop system also makes storing this treadmill a breeze, keeping your hands safe and your floor free from impact as you unfold the machine.
For the low price point, this treadmill includes all of the essentials you’ll need for a productive workout. It comes with bottle holders to help you stay hydrated, plus dual quick speed buttons that allow you to start, stop and adjust your speed via the handrails. One drawback, however, is that the incline is only adjustable through manual control, so you’ll have to exit the machine every time you want to change your incline.
Purchase Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400
Our best treadmill for walking and working is the UREVO 2-in-1 Under Desk Treadmill, which allows you to walk as you work at a standing desk. This foldable electric treadmill plugs into an outlet and can be controlled via a remote, so you can maintain your stride as you work and walk at the same time. An extra-wide running belt also gives you more room to walk freely, allowing you to multitask with ease if needed. Plus, you can easily fold up this treadmill and store it against the wall if you need your desk space for meetings.
Despite being an under desk treadmill, UREVO 2-in-1 doesn’t skimp on its capabilities. It’s designed with a 2.5 horsepower motor that enables you to walk or run up to 7.6 miles per hour with the frame up and 3.8 miles per hour with the frame down. It’s also made with a five-layer running belt that provides ergonomic support, slip resistance and extra cushioning for your legs and feet. Some users report that the remote control can be glitchy and has issues changing speed. Yet for the low price and under desk workout, the remote operation concern may be worth it.
Purchase UREVO 2-in-1 Under Desk Treadmill
Treadmills are an excellent piece of fitness equipment to have on hand for beginners, since you can use a treadmill for light walking and slowly build up your strength. Treadmills are also great options for those with tight time commitments or who work at home, as they offer the convenience of a quick and easy workout without having to head to a traditional gym. If you live in an area that experiences all four seasons, or a neighborhood with a rough terrain, having a treadmill at home can allow you to walk or workout at any time of the year, regardless of inclement weather, dark skies or the condition of the ground around you.
Walking or running on a treadmill offers numerous health benefits, and the best part is, you don’t need an intense workout to experience them. Here are the positive impacts that walking and exercising on a home treadmill can have on your physical, mental and emotional health.
Walking can do wonders for your cardiovascular health. As one of the leading ways to prevent heart disease, walking has the power to lower your blood pressure, improve circulation and strengthen your heart. In fact, post-menopausal women who walk just one to two miles a day can lower their blood pressure by nearly 11 points over the course of 24-weeks, or a six month period. Women who walk just 30-minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20 percent. Walking at a brisk pace can up that number to 40 percent. Still, research shows that people of all ages can benefit from walking, and suggests that people aim for a minimum of 150-minutes of exercise per week. That’s the equivalent of working out for 30-minutes at least five times a week. Plus, data shows that some walking is better than none, so even squeezing in 10-minutes can be beneficial to your health.
In addition to strengthening your heart, walking can improve your muscle, bone and joint health. Research shows that walking can tone your leg and abdominal muscles in particular, but muscle toning doesn’t have to stop there. Pumping your arms as you walk can tone your arm muscles as well. For a more challenging workout and increased toning, try using a walking treadmill on an incline. Walking can also help stop the loss of bone mass, which is essential to preventing osteoporosis. It can support your joints and increase blood supply to these areas, which is important for maintaining flexibility and joint function. Most joint cartilage doesn’t have direct blood supply; instead, our joints rely on getting nutrition from joint fluid that circulates during physical activity. Walking can increase the circulation of this essential joint flood, improving your range of motion.
One surprising benefit of walking is that it’s a proven way to boost your immune function, which is crucial to maintaining your overall health. A study of more than 1,000 adults during flu season found that those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45-minutes per day had 43 percent fewer sick days; this same group had fewer upper respiratory tract infections as well. Not only can walking keep away the common cold or flu, but it can also reduce your chance for certain diseases. Walking can lower your risk of developing some cancers while also slowing down the release of stress hormones, which can further protect you against illness. Research has found that just one 30-minute walk causes modest changes in your immune system. It can flush out bacteria from your lungs and airways, and increase antibodies and white blood cells, or the body’s cells that fight disease. Walking can also significantly increase your lifespan, potentially allowing you to live a longer life.
Your brain and mental health can benefit from walking, too. Walking can slow down mental decline, preserving your memory and even preventing neurological illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that walking 2.5 miles a day, for example, results in a 17 percent decline in memory in women ages 65 and older. Walking less than a half-mile per week, on the other hand, increases that number to a 25 percent decline in memory. Still, walking just a quarter-mile per day has the power to cut the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in half. Aside from the neurological benefits, walking can boost your mental health. Walking releases endorphins, a natural painkiller that elevates mood and fights off depression and anxiety. It can also give you a major energy boost equivalent to a cup of coffee, so if you’re tired, try going for a walk.
While running on a treadmill exerts more energy, causing you to burn more calories, running isn’t necessarily better than walking on a treadmill. Ultimately, it will depend on which exercise is more attractive to you, your fitness level and your goals for how you want to use your treadmill. Both running and walking are excellent forms of cardio exercise that can help you lose weight, tone your muscles and improve your heart health. In fact, they offer similar risk reductions for lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk, so one exercise isn’t better than the other when it comes to your heart health. Running, however, may help you lose weight faster if weight loss is one of your fitness goals. Still, running is a more intense workout, and some people simply prefer the slower and relaxed pace of walking. Others prefer walking because it’s low-impact, as opposed to running, which is high-impact and puts more pressure on your joints.
Walking on a treadmill can be an effective way to lose belly fat if it’s one of your goals. The key, however, is maintaining consistency. Studies have found that women with obesity who walked for 50 to 70-minutes three times per week over the course of 12 weeks, or three months, reduced their waist circumference and body fat. This included both subcutaneous fat, or the fat directly under the skin, and visceral fat, or belly fat that’s hidden inside your abdomen. Overall, cardio exercise like walking on a treadmill is a proven and effective way to burn visceral belly fat.
You should use a speed that’s comfortable for you when walking on a treadmill. If you’re finding that you’re fatigued or out of breath, you may want to consider lowering your speed. If you’re not breaking a sweat and your workout feels too light, then you may want to up your speed instead. Be mindful of any pain, though; shin splints can easily develop from walking or running too hard, so it’s best to end your workout if you notice your legs are hurting. A general rule of thumb is that walking speed is anywhere from two to four miles per hour, while four to five miles per hour is a fast walk or light jog. Any speed over five miles per hour, on the other hand, is jogging or running.
Walking on a treadmill 30-minutes a day is more than enough to experience many of walking’s physical and mental health benefits. In fact, the CDC recommends that adults need 150-minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or the equivalent of 30-minutes a day five times a week. If you can walk more than that, great, but be sure to give yourself rest days to recover.
How long a treadmill lasts will depend on the brand, the quality of its materials and construction and how you take care of it. A common lifespan for quality treadmills is seven to 12 years, depending on how much use they get and their level of wear and tear. Regular maintenance is important to ensuring your treadmill gets the longest life possible, so be sure to keep up with any repairs.
A walking treadmill is a versatile and long-lasting piece of fitness equipment to invest in for your home gym. Not only can having a treadmill at home allow you to exercise at any day or time, regardless of weather conditions, it can offer you numerous health benefits. Whether you’re beginning a new fitness journey or a seasoned pro, walking on a treadmill is an effective cardio workout. Before buying a walking treadmill, consider which features, technology, training programs and price point you’re interested in, then consult our handy list for the top picks to choose from.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Ashley Zlatopolsky is a Detroit-based writer and editor. She writes about health, wellness and fitness for Sports Illustrated, Real Simple, Healthline, Greatist, SELF and more. Previously, she worked as a branded content strategist at USA TODAY. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys dancing, kickboxing, strength training and running.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated.