How to Buy a Treadmill – Buyers Guide

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So, you’ve decided you want to buy a treadmill. Seeing as treadmills are one of the most effective, convenient pieces of exercise equipment to keep at home, that’s one of the best investments you can make in your mental and physical health.

However, there are a ton of models to choose from and the market is completely oversaturated which can make it hard to decide which is right for you. We’re here to take you through exactly what to look for in a treadmill so that by the time you’re finished reading there will be no doubt which is the treadmill for you.


Before anything else, you will need to figure out how much available space you have to use your treadmill in. We highly recommend that you actually get a tape measure out to have accurate readings handy, because you don’t want to spend your time and money only to find out that it doesn’t even fit in your home.

If you’re thinking about getting a folding treadmill (more on this later), you should also consider the space you’re going to store it in and if it will fit well there. This shouldn’t be too much of a hassle as every reputable manufacturer will have the dimensions listed on their site, taking the guesswork out of it.

If you’re just going to be walking on your treadmill, then you can feasibly get away with a 20” wide belt, but if you want to jog or run it’s recommended that you get a 22” width. This is just a safety measure, just in case you lose your balance or can’t quite keep your pace, you have a bit more room for error.

For length, walkers should go for 50” while runners below 6’ tall can go for 55”. If you stand 6’ or taller then move that even longer to 60”.

what to look for in a treadmill

Automated Incline

It’s always a smart idea to get a treadmill with at least a few levels of incline, however, some offer more variability than others. Also pay attention to the “automated” part, as certain treadmills can be adjusted at a higher/lower incline but you have to do so manually which can be a pain.

Walking on a treadmill with zero incline can be harder on the joints, so starting off even at an incline of 1.0 is advised. However, if you’re serious about your athletic abilities or would simply like to improve your body composition in a relatively short amount of time, try looking for treadmills with at least a level 10% incline. The max is around 40% which burn calories at a heavy rate by simply walking.

Incline is great for this purpose, but we personally love using them for intervals. For example, you can walk at a 1% incline at a steady state for 1 minute, then ramp it up to 5% for 30 seconds, etc. These work wonders for torching body fat and increasing your endurance quickly.

Workout Programs

You’ll find that many treadmills today come with workout programs already included. These will vary depending on the model and brand, with some being very basic to others being elaborate, full-color “worlds” that you can run in virtually. Of course, the more advanced the programs, the more you can expect to pay.

Here are some of the most commonly featured pieces of tech:

  • iFit – Here, you’ll find endless personalized workouts through their monthly membership, along with tons of video workouts from online personal trainers. We love the Google Street View option to run around the world!
  • Passport Virtual Active – These are interactive videos which work with your television to immerse you in beautiful virtual environments with ambient sound. When you change up your workout intensity, the video and audio change as well.


You could have 2 treadmills listed at the same price, but one will last years over the other. That should definitely affect your decision, as ultimately one is going to save you more cash though the upfront price tags are the same.

Take a look at the thickness of the belt, first. For example, a single-ply belt isn’t anywhere near as durable as 2-ply or 4-play belts. On top of that, thicker belts are often much more quiet and comfortable.

Make sure to revise how large the diameter of the metal rollers underneath the belt is, too. Larger rollers will make it easier on the motor while extending the belt life. We recommend rollers with at least a 2.5’ diameter.

treadmill buyers guide


Finally, we need to look at the types of treadmills for your home to determine which will work best for you, your goals, and your space.

Folding Treadmill

Folding treadmills are great if you’re a bit limited on a dedicated space for just a treadmill, but realistically will have enough to stow it away when you’re done. Folding treadmills are usually a bit more compact than full-sized models, though allow for a pretty similar user experience. Just like their name suggests, they fold up quickly and easily whenever not in use.

Quality varies greatly, so you can get an ultra-basic model with minimal exercise programs and incline levels, while others come fully featured.

Manual Treadmill

If you’re looking for the ultimate money saver without compromising on that traditional treadmill design and experience, then you need to look at a manual treadmill. These require no electricity at all and instead are propelled by the movement of your feet on the belt.

If you’re nervous about the safety of traditional treadmills which use motors and electricity, then this is a wonderful alternative. If you happen to trip up or need to slow down, the belt will do the same, instead of going and going.

Moreover, these models can help you burn more calories in the same amount of time, traveling at the same speed as you’d spend on an electric treadmill.


Well, as you have to expend more energy just by moving the belt alone, you’re naturally going to burn more calories. There are potential downsides, though. For example, you don’t have any personalized workout features, and can expect the LCD monitors to be quite limited as well.

Treadmill for Seniors

If you are buying for a senior, then you should check these models out. They come with handrails to help keep your balance well, offering a more secure grip than your typical treadmill. Not only that, but they come with all kinds of helpful safety features, like a lowered belt to minimize tripping. Since most seniors will not be jogging on them but walking, there are treadmills designed for walking. They don’t have as powerful motors since they don’t need to operate at the higher speeds running treadmills do.

Under Desk Treadmill

Finally, we bring you the under desk treadmill. If you’re so limited on space that you can’t even fit in a folding treadmill, these are your best bet. As you can probably deduce from the name, these seamlessly fit under a desk so you can get in a workout while you’re working!

Think of these as your regular treadmill without the console part – just the motor and the belt. They’re very versatile and user-friendly, and many feature a style where you can lift the console up to form a more traditional-style treadmill and then fold it back down when you want to use it under your desk. Due to this design, they’re incredibly easy to stow away when you’re not using it. Place them in a closet, behind a door, or slide it under your bed!


Now that you’ve had the chance to read all about treadmills, do you know which style you’ll be going for? With so many different options available on the market today, we know that there is at least one option that will perfectly suit what you’re looking for. So lace up your running shoes and get going!

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!


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Shayanne Weeks

Shayanne is a freelance writer and personal trainer based in LA, California. Describing herself as a nomad, she has lived in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington as well as Guadalajara, Mexico. As an extremely active person, she loves to train people, teach yoga, and ski. She enjoys sharing her love for teaching others through her “how to” fitness guides and workout equipment reviews. Shayanne is addicted to surfing and yoga and practices both everyday.
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