What to Look for in a Treadmill: Treadmill Buying Guide

Embarking on the journey of buying a treadmill can be as challenging as starting a new fitness regimen. A treadmill is not just a piece of fitness equipment; it's a commitment to your health and well-being. With a plethora of options available in the market, understanding what to look for in a treadmill is crucial. This treadmill buying guide is designed to help you navigate through the myriad of choices and find a treadmill that aligns with your fitness goals, space, and budget. By dissecting key treadmill features and offering comprehensive advice, this guide aims to make your buying process as smooth and informed as possible.

Tips for Buying a Treadmill

Before delving into the specifics of treadmills, it's important to assess your personal needs. Consider the kind of workouts you plan to do, the space you have available, and who else might be using the treadmill. Will it be used primarily for walking, jogging, or intense running sessions? Understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision that suits your lifestyle and fitness aspirations. Remember, a treadmill is a long-term investment; what you choose should not only meet your current needs but also adapt to your evolving fitness journey.

Choosing a Treadmill: Things to Consider


Your budget is a primary consideration when it comes to choosing a treadmill. Prices can range dramatically, from budget-friendly models under a few hundred dollars to high-end machines costing several thousand. It's essential to understand that price often correlates with quality, durability, and the range of features offered. However, it's possible to find a treadmill that offers good value for money at various price points. Setting a realistic budget will help narrow down your choices and focus on what's truly important for your fitness needs.

Type of Treadmill

There are two main types of treadmills: manual and motorized. Manual treadmills are powered by your movement and tend to be more affordable and lighter, but they offer fewer features. Motorized treadmills, on the other hand, have a motor that moves the belt, providing a smoother and more adjustable experience. They typically come with more features but are more expensive and require electricity.

There are even more types of treadmills to consider when choosing which to purchase. For those with limited space, a folding treadmill can be a game-changer, as it can be easily stored away when not in use. If your focus is on staying active while working, an under-desk treadmill can seamlessly integrate into your daily routine, allowing you to walk while you work. For individuals seeking a more challenging and efficient workout, inclined treadmills offer increased resistance and muscle engagement, simulating uphill walking or running. Lastly, the curved treadmill, a newer innovation, stands out for its unique design that promotes a more natural running posture and reduces the overall impact on joints, though it usually comes with a steeper learning curve and price tag. Each type of treadmill serves different needs and preferences, making it vital to consider your specific requirements and constraints before making a decision.

Belt Size

The size of the treadmill's belt is a crucial factor, especially for taller individuals or those who plan to run. For walking, a belt length of at least 50 inches is generally sufficient. However, if you plan to use the treadmill for running, you should opt for a belt that's at least 55 to 60 inches long and 20 inches wide. This ensures ample space for a comfortable and safe stride. The belt size not only impacts your comfort but also the overall usability of the treadmill. It's important to try out treadmills with different belt sizes to understand what feels right for your body and running style.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of a treadmill is an important safety consideration. Most standard treadmills can accommodate users up to 250 pounds, but if you are heavier or if the treadmill will be used by multiple people, you might need a model with a higher weight capacity. This not only ensures safety but also speaks to the durability and build quality of the treadmill. A higher weight capacity usually indicates a more robust and stable machine.


The motor is a critical component of a motorized treadmill. When assessing the motor, look for the continuous horsepower (CHP), which indicates how much power the motor can sustain over an extended period. For walking or light jogging, a motor with 2.0 CHP might be adequate. However, for regular running, you should consider a treadmill with at least 2.5 to 3.0 CHP. A robust motor ensures a smoother operation and is a key factor in the longevity of the treadmill. Additionally, a more powerful motor can handle heavier usage without overheating or breaking down.

Speed & Incline Range

Speed and incline capabilities are significant factors in the versatility of a treadmill. Most treadmills offer a speed range that goes up to 10 mph, which is sufficient for most users. If you are a serious runner or are training for a specific event, you might want a treadmill with a higher top speed. The incline feature adds an extra challenge to your workouts, simulating uphill running, which can be great for building strength and endurance. Look for treadmills that offer an incline of at least 10% to ensure a challenging and varied workout experience.


Cushioning is an often-overlooked but essential feature of a treadmill. Good cushioning reduces the impact on your joints, making your workout more comfortable and reducing the risk of injuries. This is particularly important for runners or those with existing joint issues. The quality of cushioning can vary significantly between different treadmills and brands. Test different models to find a level of cushioning that feels right for you.


The stability of a treadmill is key to a safe and enjoyable workout. A well-built treadmill should feel stable and solid, even at higher speeds or inclines. It shouldn't wobble or shake during use. The machine's overall weight often affects its stability – heavier treadmills tend to be more stable. However, keep in mind that a heavier machine will be harder to move. If you plan to place your treadmill in a dedicated spot, a heavier model might be a better choice for stability.

Control Panel

The control panel of a treadmill should be intuitive, easy to use, and clearly display all the necessary information. Look for a panel that shows essential metrics like speed, time, distance, incline, and calories burned. Some treadmills also come with heart rate monitoring capabilities, either through hand grips or wireless heart rate monitors. These features can be particularly useful for tracking your fitness progress and ensuring you're working out within the right intensity zone.

Extra Features

Many treadmills come with a range of additional features that can enhance your workout experience. These might include pre-set workout programs, Bluetooth connectivity for music or fitness apps, built-in speakers, cooling fans, and even built-in screens for entertainment. While these features are not essential for a good workout, they can make your exercise routine more enjoyable and motivating. When looking at extra features, consider what is important to you and how likely you are to use them.

In conclusion, choosing the right treadmill requires a thoughtful consideration of various factors, including your budget, the type of treadmill, belt size, weight capacity, motor, speed and incline range, cushioning, stability, control panel, and extra features. It's important to balance your needs and preferences with the practical aspects of owning and using a treadmill. By taking the time to research and compare treadmills, you'll be able to find a machine that not only fits your lifestyle but also inspires and supports your fitness journey for years to come. Remember, a treadmill is an investment in your health, and choosing the right one can be the first step towards achieving your fitness goals.