As the weather turns colder, running outdoors is becoming more of a pain, while the safety of going to the gym — if it’s even open — is questionable at best. Either way, cardio can be tough with a mask on. So, if you love to run, you’re probably already considering picking up a treadmill for your home to stay on track with your running goals and keep you sane during a pandemic winter.
Shopping for a treadmill isn’t the easiest thing, so let’s break it down. There are generally two types of treadmills: The most common type of treadmill is a motorized one. Like the ones you see at the gym, these have — you guessed it — a motor, and you can set the speed at which it moves the tread. A lot of motorized treadmills are specifically made for at-home use and fold away for easy storage. Many also have bells and whistles, such as heart-rate tracking, easy speed-switching buttons, mileage tracker, and more.
There are also manual treadmills, which have no motor: You have to use your power to turn the tread yourself. These can be notoriously difficult and should really only be used if you’re an elite athlete looking to build power — not necessarily an everyday runner.
If you’re not an elite athlete (yet), you’ll probably want a motorized treadmill with some data tracking that fits inside your space and fits your needs.
The Best Budget Treadmill
For a solid treadmill at a low-low price, you can’t beat the Horizon. The tread has variable-response cushioning, giving you an easier run, and the whole treadmill folds up (not necessarily easily, though) so you can fit it in a closet. When it comes to customizability, the treadmill has 10 speed keys and 10 incline keys for quick switches.
The Best Treadmill for Serious Runners
If you’re serious about your mileage, you shouldn’t settle on anything less than the best. The NordicTrack 1750 is just that: dozens of buttons to switch speed and incline, in-depth statistics on your speed, elevation, heart rate, and intensity, and the big kicker—iFit. That’s interactive personal training, where coaches will guide you through a group fitness workout from the comfort of home.
The Best Treadmill for New Runners
Bowflex may be more known for its strength training equipment, but its treadmill is a surprising performer. With a 12-mile-per-hour max and a 15-percent incline, there's plenty of latitude to challenge even experienced runners, while a built-in fan and user tracking make return sessions easier. For those rest days, it folds up out of the way.
The Best Treadmill for Small Spaces
This pint-sized treadmill packs serious power, with a 51-inch long tread that still can go up to 8 miles per hour. It even has built-in speakers and an AUX cable that lets you play your music out loud while you run. At beyond a reasonable price, it’s a reasonable treadmill to keep you moving in a small room.
The Best Treadmill for Dataheads
Beyond its four-inch HD touchscreen and grip heart rate sensor, the most noteworthy addition is its access to the iFit platform (one year included). When selecting one of hundreds of workouts, your screen will display breathtaking vistas while an iFit coach encourages you in the frame as a kind of virtual running partner. You run uphill? Its incline and speed automatically adjust, creating an immersive, almost virtual reality-like experience. If you weren't burning calories, you'd swear you were having a good time.
The Best Treadmill for Walkers
With a max speed of 10 miles per hour, the most passionate walkers will have speed to spare. The narrower 20-inch belt is still plenty wide without creating a big footprint in the house, while it raises to a 10-percent max grade with a few taps of a button. Its motor and frame are also guaranteed for life.
The Best Treadmill If Money Is No Object
It’s certainly not the most budget-friendly option, but if you want your home gym to feel like, well, a gym, then the Landice L7 is your treadmill. With speeds from 0.5 to 12 miles per hour, 15% grade elevation, a large 58-inch long running area, and a 1000-pound thrust motor, it’s obviously gym quality. But it’s the 4-horsepower motor that makes it really stand out for its quietness and its quality. Plus, with a hardy aluminum frame, this treadmill should last you a lifetime.
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