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You know that a treadmill offers a great, low-impact workout that can keep the weight off and your whole body toned.
You also know that these machines are giant monstrosities that can take over whichever room you put them in (although they are convenient when you need to pile clothes on something). What are you supposed to do? Can you get a great at-home workout while still enjoying your actual home?
You can, if you get one of the folding treadmills below. These machines offer a workout that’s every bit as effective as any other treadmill you’ve tried, and when you’re done with them, you can simply fold them up and store them someplace out of the way.
We compared 27 folding treadmills to determine which ones were the most convenient, offered the most useful bells and whistles, and that you were most likely to actually use. The 5 top performers are covered in more detail below.
If you’re ready to start dropping pounds and getting in the best shape of your life, one of these treadmills can help you get there.
1. NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Si Treadmill — Best Folding Treadmill
This high-tech model will do everything short of walking for you
While most foldable treadmills skimp on the bells and whistles, the NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Si has just about everything you could want in a piece of exercise equipment.
The console is sleek and attractive, and it comes with 20 built-in workouts, making it easy to figure out the best way to meet your fitness goals. Each of those workouts was designed by a personal trainer, so it’s not like you’ll be left to your own devices (or forced to rely on the advice of the beefiest guy in the gym).
You’ll also get a free, one-month iFit membership with purchase, but you’ll have to subscribe (for an additional fee) to keep using it. It’s well worth the extra cost, though, as you’ll be able to see live fitness classes — and the instructors will be able to control your speed and incline.
Be aware, though, that you’ll have to provide a credit card to use iFit, and cancelling can involve jumping through hoops.
You’ll have to provide your own phone or tablet to view those classes, though, although it does allow you to plug in an iPod or MP3 player to give yourself a soundtrack while you run.
This isn’t an entertainment center, of course, and it’s no slouch when it comes to improving your workout. The belt has something called FlexSelect Cushioning, which enables you to adjust the firmness of the track. You can make things soft and easy on your joints or trick your body into thinking you’re actually out on the asphalt.
There’s a SMART-response motor inside that keeps everything cool and functioning, even if you push the machine to its limits. That makes it a great choice for anyone hoping to get in some sprints or a HIIT workout.
What I Liked
- Comes with 20 built-in workouts
- Compatible with iFit for live sessions with personal trainers
- FlexSelect Cushioning allows you to customize firmness of track
- SMART-response motor stays cool even at high speeds
- Can plug an iPod or MP3 player into it
What I Didn’t Like
- iFit membership can be hard to cancel
- Have to provide your own screen to watch classes
2. XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill — Best Folding Treadmill with Incline
If you just want a workout — and not more high-tech electronics than you’ll find on the space shuttle — then this is the treadmill for you
The XTERRA Fitness TR150 isn’t much to look at, and it certainly won’t keep you entertained for hours on end. If you just want to lose weight without going bankrupt in the process, however, it’s hard to beat.
It does have an LCD screen that shows your speed, distance, and other important stats, but it’s kind of like tracking your workout on a graphing calculator. Still, it gives you all the info you need to ensure your workouts stay on track.
There are 12 pre-programmed workouts in the system, and while they’re not the most inventive, they can keep you from getting bored with your routine. They also make it easy for inexperienced runners to get in the groove.
You can take things slow at .5 MPH or hit speeds of 10 MPH, making it a great choice for users of all ages and fitness levels. There are also three different incline levels to choose from.
Changing the speed is quick and simple, as there are several large, clearly-marked buttons on the face of the console. You can also save your settings, so that your next workout will be easy to set up.
The best part is that you can get all this for a great price. No, this machine won’t knock your socks off, but it will give you as much of a workout as you can handle, and you won’t have to go into a massive amount of debt to get it.
It’s fairly bulky, though, even when folded up. If you have a small apartment, you’ll have to sacrifice quite a bit of space for it. And while you may not miss frills like HD screens or personalized training classes, it would be nice if it had a cup holder or two.
What I Liked
- Great value for the price
- Can save settings for future workouts
- Small LCD screen tracks basic stats
- Comes with 12 pre-programmed workouts
- Speeds range from .5 – 10 MPH
What I Didn’t Like
- Bulky even when folded up
- No cup holders
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill — Best Lightweight Folding Treadmill
Another affordably-priced option, this model has a surprising number of features to offer
If you like running to music, this model has built-in speakers and an auxiliary cable that allows you to hook up your media player of choice. Your neighbors might not like it, but it gives you the ability to pound the pavement to a steady beat.
There are controls on the handrails for manipulating the speed of the track, as well as starting and stopping the machine. That can come in handy if you’re feeling unsteady on your feet, but it’s also convenient if you need to stop for a second to answer the phone (or to calm down an angry neighbor).
If you do have an accident while running, there’s a safety clip you can attach to your clothes. If you fall and the clip becomes disconnected, it will shut the machine off, reducing the risk of serious injury.
The large LCD screen makes it easy to keep tabs on your vitals, but don’t expect to use it to binge Netflix. For that, you’ll have to use your phone or tablet — and luckily enough, this machine has a holder for storing your device while you run. It’s designed to accommodate a variety of devices, which is convenient, but also means that it won’t hold it as securely as you might like (especially if you’re sprinting).
Speaking of running at high speeds, the treadmill tops out at 9 MPH. That should be plenty for most users, but it’s less than you might find in other, similarly-priced models.
While it’s a lightweight unit at just over 100 pounds, it also doesn’t support as much weight as other treadmills. The maximum weight is 220 pounds, so it may not be suitable for everyone.
What I Liked
- Built-in speakers and auxiliary cable
- Convenient controls on handrails
- LCD screen tracks all essential information
- Has a holder for tablets and phones
- Lightweight and easy to move
What I Didn’t Like
- Holder isn’t terribly secure
- Maximum weight is only 220 pounds
4. 3G Cardio Pro Runner Treadmill — Best Premium Folding Treadmill
This high-end model is perfect for anyone who wants plenty of room when they run
The 3G Cardio Pro Runner isn’t cheap, but if you’re willing to spend a little more money, it has everything you need to get a serious (and seriously comfortable) workout in.
Make no mistake, while this treadmill is easy to fold up and move, it’s a heavy-duty machine. It clocks in at nearly 250 pounds and can support users weighing as much as 350 pounds; however, the star of the show is the size of the belt.
The track is 58” x 20.5”, which gives even the largest users plenty of room to stretch out and reach their full stride. The hood is unobtrusive, making it unlikely that you’ll kick it mid-stride, and the belt is orthopedic as well, ensuring that you’ll always have a soft surface to land on.
All of this makes it a fantastic choice for users with joint issues or those recovering from injury. It’s perfect for a steady, gentle workout — one that won’t create more health issues than it solves.
Those with preexisting conditions will appreciate the fact that there are safety features galore on this thing. It has an interactive pulse monitor on the rails, so all you have to do is grip them to check on your heart, and it can accommodate a wireless HR chest belt.
In addition to pre-programmed workouts, it has several fitness tests built into it, and it can help you track things like your BMI.
If you just want to see how fast you can run, though, it can still accommodate you. The top speed is 12 MPH, which is more than enough to get your heart racing.
It’s an expensive treadmill, though, and for the price you’d expect it to have more in the way of multimedia capabilities. The best it can offer you is a phone holder which is too small to hold tablets and even some larger phones.
What I Liked
- Offers plenty of room to run
- Can accommodate larger users easily
- Orthopedic belt provides gentle landing surface
- Has plenty of safety features
- Generous top speed
What I Didn’t Like
- On the pricey side
- Lacks multimedia options
- Phone holder can’t accommodate tablets or larger phones
5. UREVO 2 in 1 Under Desk Folding Treadmill — Best Portable Folding Treadmill
This small little device is perfect for steady, all-day exercise
If you’re short on space, the UREVO 2 in 1 may be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s actually an under-desk treadmill that has a folding bar which also allows you to use it like a traditional model.
Keeping it under your desk allows you to get in a gentle workout all day long; this is wonderful for otherwise sedentary people, and it’s a good way for those who are somewhat out of shape to get back in the game without overexerting themselves.
Since it’s made to fit under a desk, it should be able to fit in even the smallest apartment without dominating the space. Also, since the target audience is a person who’s working, it’s quiet enough that it won’t interfere with phone calls or other important communication. You can definitely use this machine late at night after everyone else has gone to bed.
It does tend to get a little hot, though, so if you like to walk barefoot, doing so may be a bit uncomfortable.
There’s even a remote that controls both the belt and the LED screen, so you don’t have to bend over to start it, stop it, or check your stats. That comes in very handy when it’s under your desk, but it’s something users with limited mobility will appreciate as well. (Trust me, though, there will come a time when you try to change the channel on your TV with the treadmill remote.)
This is primarily a walking treadmill, but it can reach speeds up to 7.6 MPH. That allows you to get in a light jog if you like, but don’t expect to run wind sprints on this thing.
Regardless of what speed setting you have it on, the five-layer belt is unlikely to slip or slide, giving you a clean, reliable running surface. It also uses silica gel for impact absorption, putting less strain on your knees, ankles, and hips.
If you ever need to adjust the belt, though, be prepared for a bit of a struggle. The included instructions are confusing and the process is tedious, but fortunately, you shouldn’t need to do it often.
What I Liked
- Can be used as an under-desk treadmill
- Ideal for users looking for a gentle workout
- Very small and unobtrusive
- Includes remote that controls belt and LED screen
- Belt doesn’t slip or slide much
What I Didn’t Like
- Not suitable for running
- Gets a little too hot for barefoot use
- Adjusting the belt is a pain
What We Looked for in the Best Folding Treadmill
Treadmills can vary wildly in terms of quality, and price isn’t always the best indicator of a machine’s worth. While it’s easy to say that we feel the NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Si is the best folding treadmill you can buy right now, it may be helpful for you to understand how we reached that decision.
In order to rank these treadmills, we looked at the following criteria:
– What was the overall walking experience like?
– Were the additional features useful, or were they just pointless bells and whistles?
– How much space did the machine take up and how easy was it to put away?
– Did it assist you with planning your workout at all?
– Did it offer excellent value for the price?
How to Choose the Right Folding Treadmill
If we were buying a folding treadmill today, we’d purchase the NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Si. However, rather than just blindly trust our recommendation, you should do your research and see which machine is best for you and your needs.
In order to do that, there are a few key categories that we believe you should research. We’ll cover each of them in more detail below.
If you’ve ever been on more than one treadmill in your life, then you know that they’re not all the same when it comes to the walking experience. This sounds patently obvious, but it’s something that many people overlook when shopping for a new machine.
The first thing you should look at is how much room the treadmill offers you. This includes both the room between the handrails as well as the overall length of the belt. Some treadmills don’t give you much room to stretch your legs without hitting the hood of the motor, so make sure you can reach a comfortable stride on the one you buy.
Like mattresses, treadmills come in different firmnesses. This refers to how much the impact of each footfall is cushioned, and it’s largely a personal preference. Some people like little cushioning, as this mimics running on pavement, while others prefer a springy belt, as that puts less strain on their joints.
Make sure that the belt doesn’t slip or stutter, especially if you plan to sprint on it. This is the sort of thing that can seem minor at first, but over time can grow to be incredibly annoying.
There’s more to a treadmill workout than just walking in a straight line. Some people want a leisurely stroll, while others want a full-out sprint up a steep incline.
Ideally, the machine you buy will be able to offer you both options, but that can drive up the price. Before you start shopping, ask yourself what kind of workout you’ll be doing, and then make sure the machine you purchase can accommodate such a workout.
Some treadmills offer a wide variety of speeds and inclines, while others are much simpler. You don’t need all of those options if you’re just looking to walk at a steady pace, but if you’re wanting to really challenge yourself, they’ll be worth every penny.
Also, many modern machines come with pre-programmed workouts or subscriptions to online fitness classes. These aren’t essential by any means (and you can find plenty of great workouts for free on the internet), but they keep some people motivated and eager to stay on their fitness journey.
Size and Transportability
If you’re buying a folding treadmill, chances are you’re worried about how big it will be. And just like regular treadmills, folding models come in all sizes.
Some are massive, heavy-duty machines; these will generally give you the most options in terms of a workout, but they take up a lot of space even when folded. They can be hard to move around as well.
Others are extremely small and lightweight (some can even slip under your bed when not in use). While this is wonderfully convenient, they’re unlikely to be able to challenge you in the same way a larger treadmill will.
There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s totally a question of what you value in a treadmill (and how much space you’re willing to allocate to it).
Features and Accessories
This is another category that’s largely determined by personal preference. Many high-end models have more bells and whistles than a private jet, and they can do everything from play videos to track every last bit of your fitness data.
Others are much more simple. They may just give you the basic workout information (like distance and speed), and they may not even have a cup holder to offer you.
As you might expect, the more features a treadmill offers, the more expensive it will likely be. It’s up to you to decide what’s truly important to you — and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Durability probably won’t be an issue if you’re using your treadmill for leisurely walks (or if you’re not using it at all). If you really put it through its paces, though, you’ll want to be sure it can handle everything you throw at it.
There’s not really a magic formula that will help you realize which treadmills will be durable and which ones won’t, so it’s mainly a matter of doing your research. Make sure that the motor is considered high-quality (and that it’s backed by a warranty), and look to see that the frame can handle the rigors that come with you running on it every day.
If you’re in the market for a folding treadmill, you can’t go wrong with the NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Si. It’s versatile and reliable, and it clocks in at a middle-of-the-road price point.
No matter which option you end up buying, though, the important thing is that you actually use it, and that you combine it with a healthy diet. After all, while the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so does the journey to the fridge.