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The best folding treadmills to support your health goals, according to experts

Folding treadmills can be huge space savers, but experts caution against sacrificing stability for portability.
When shopping for a folding treadmill, experts say that you get what you pay for.
When shopping for a folding treadmill, experts say that you get what you pay for. NordicTrack; Echelon

Whether you’re a longtime athlete tired of running in the cold or a newbie looking to start a running routine from the privacy of home, a folding treadmill can be a great option. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for adults, and having the option to hop on a treadmill a few steps from your desk or couch can make snagging some cardio between meetings or post-dinner easier to achieve. 

The best folding treadmills come with the added bonus of saving you space. There are, however, a few things to consider when shopping for a folding treadmill to prevent injury and ensure you’re not sacrificing function for size, according to experts we spoke with. To find the best folding treadmill that will help you meet all your needs — both functional and spatial — we spoke to fitness experts about what product features to look for and some best practices to keep in mind when  using a folding treadmill at home.  

SKIP AHEAD How we picked the best folding treadmills | The best folding treadmills in 2023 | How to shop for folding treadmills | Safety tips for using a folding treadmill  

Selected.Our top picks

How we picked the best folding treadmills 

When shopping for a folding treadmill — like most workout equipment where safety is a concern — you don’t want to scrimp on quality. “You have to really think about the structural integrity of the treadmill,” says Vinita Chandra Mody, MScPT, a physical therapist and founder of Stroma Physical Therapy in New York. A product that is cheaply constructed can increase your risk of injury, according to Mody. When shopping, our experts recommend keeping the following in mind: 

  •  Stability. The space-saving benefit offered by a folding treadmill comes with a key tradeoff:  “they are going to be less sturdy,” says Mody. To increase your comfort when racking up miles and decrease your risk of overuse injuries, models that prioritize stability with features like shock absorption are better buys, according to our experts. (Beware of ultra low-cost models — stability and quality construction come at a price.) Read reviews, which can often give you a more realistic view of a folding treadmill’s durability over time than product specifications, says Kompal Parmar, M.D., a board-certified primary care physician in Lubbock, Texas. (Pro tip: search specifically for “stability” in product reviews, says Noam Tamir, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of TS Fitness, a personal training gym in New York City. )
  • Size. If you are looking to save space with a folding treadmill, size is a key factor to consider. Some models have a large footprint even when folded, though they also tend to offer the most stability when in use, according to our experts. You’ll also want to consider the width of the running deck, says Tamir. Most foldable treadmills have a running belt width between 16 and 20 inches. “If you’re a big person, you’re probably going to need to go to the bigger [end of that spectrum],” Tamir says. 
  • Additional product features. Beyond the must-haves necessary to ensure your safety, extra product features like virtual workout programs and heart rate monitors can improve the quality of your run. At the most basic, our experts recommend looking for a model that has an adjustable incline as well as arm supports.

The best folding treadmills in 2024

Given the importance of quality and stability in a folding treadmill, our experts favored models from legacy fitness brands like NordicTrack and Bowflex that have a well-documented track record. “They’re worth the investment because you’ll have a dedicated team for maintenance and a dedicated team for any professional assistance you might need on the track,” says Mody. Most of their picks are no small investment. But remember, this is one piece of equipment where you really do get what you pay for. “Even if it’s $300 or $400 cheaper, if you end up not using it because [it’s missing key] features, what’s the point?” says Mody. 

BowFlex Treadmill 22

Tamir and Mody both recommend the BowFlex Treadmill 22, which comes loaded with features. It’s one of the largest folding treadmills on the market, with a 22-inch by 60-inch long cushioned running deck and maximum user weight of 400lbs, making it one of the best foldable options for those in larger bodies and for those with a long stride. It also has a wide incline range (-5% to 20%) and a max speed of 12 mph to give you lots of workout flexibility. Plus, there are built-in music playlists, a 22-inch touchscreen, and streaming compatibility with Netflix and Prime Video to make your workout more enjoyable. BowFlex also offers virtual trainer-led workouts as well as cross-training options (yoga, pilates and strength).  

Max user weight: 400 lbs | Max incline: 20% | Max speed: 12 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 336 lbs |Running deck: 22 x 60 inch. | Footprint: 85 x 39.6x 70 inch. 

NordicTrack EXP 10i

Tamir also likes the NordicTrack EXP10i for its excellent shock absorption. With a 20-inch by 55-inch running deck, it also has ample room to run with a much smaller footprint than the BowFlex. To make workouts more fun and effective, the EXP 10i also has a built-in virtual iFit program, which is a  library of trainer-led running, walking, hiking and strength workouts. (You’ll get a 30-day trial of the program when you buy the treadmill, after that an individual plan costs $180 per year.) A built-in fan will also keep you cool. 

Max user weight: 300 lbs | Max incline: 12% | Max speed: 10 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 230 lbs | Running deck: 20 x 55 inch. |  Footprint: 70.8 x 34.9 x 59.7 inch. |  

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill 

For a no-frills option that’s more budget-friendly, Tamir particularly likes the Horizon Fitness T101 treadmill. While it may not have fancy workout programs or AI-enabled workout optimization, its built-in bluetooth speakers allow you to connect your own music or audio workout of choice while running. The one-step folding mechanism makes for easy storage between workouts. With a 55-inch running deck, it is great for those with a long stride. 

Max user weight: 300 lbs | Max incline: 10% | Max speed: 10 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 180 lbs | Running deck: 20 x 55 inch. | Footprint: 71 x 34 x 57 inch. 

Echelon Stride-S Treadmill

As another less-expensive alternative, Mody and Parmar both recommend the Echelon Stride-s, which unlike other models on this list, folds completely flat for the most compact storage. Plus, it’s relatively lightweight, according to Mody. As the most basic model in the Stride series, the Stride-s  doesn’t come with many extras but it does have virtual cross-training workouts via FitPass, a library of on-demand and live workout classes, to keep your workouts fresh. 

Max user weight: 300 lbs | Max incline: 10% | Max speed: 12 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 156 lbs |Running deck: 20 x 55 inch. | Footprint: 69x 31 x 49 inch.  

NordicTrack Commercial 1750

Mody’s favorite folding treadmill from a stability perspective is the NordicTrack 1750. “It has a very sophisticated hydraulic folding mechanism, a wide running deck and longer armrest than the average folding treadmill,” she says. Like other NordicTrack models, it comes with an optional iFit subscription, which includes thousands of trainer-led workouts. 

Max user weight: 300 lbs | Max incline: 12% | Max speed: 12 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 340 lbs | Running deck: 20 x 60 inch. | Footprint: 80 x 38 x 65 inch. 

Xterra Fitness TR150 Treadmill

The most budget-friendly option on our list is the Xterra Fitness TR150. You will get what you pay for in terms of stability, shock absorption and features, but for the price, this model will get the job done, says Mody. With a relatively small running deck, it’s one of the lightest and most compact folding treadmills you can buy, though keep in mind, it may not be suitable for those with longer strides or those who weigh more than 250 pounds.  

Max user weight: 250 lbs | Max incline: 3 manual incline settings | Max speed: 10 mph | Built-in workout programs: Yes | Product weight: 97 lbs |Running deck: 16 x 50 inch. | Footprint: 63.4 x 28.75 x 51.4 inch.  

How to shop for folding treadmills

All three experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of quality when it comes to buying a folding treadmill. “There tends to be more wear or a tear on a folding treadmill, so you really need to think about whether a product is [well-made],” says Mody. Presumably, you’ll want to actually use the folding feature from time-to-time, which means you’ll put additional wear on the hinging mechanism, she says. Buying a well-made product reduces your risk of maintenance problems down the line. 

It will also reduce your risk of injury. “Cheaper models are probably not going to have as much shock absorption,” says Tamir, which can increase the likelihood of muscle and joint pain. Here’s everything worth considering before you make your purchase: 

Stability and safety

Aside from durability over time, the main reason stability is important is injury prevention. Running on a wobbly surface can up your risk of pulling a muscle or twisting an ankle. At the same time, reducing impact force each time your foot strikes the tread is important for joint health. Finally, you should ensure any treadmill you buy (folding or not) has an emergency shutoff switch, says Tamir.


Before you buy a model, check product specs and tape out the footprint of the treadmill to confirm how much space it will take up when it’s both folded and unfolded. You want to make sure it will not only store well in your space but that you have enough room to run safely. “Make sure that you’re aware of the environment where you’ll be putting the treadmill,” says Tamir. If you fall while running and go flying into something, that could make a bad situation much worse.

The size of a folding treadmill may also contribute to the comfort of your run. “Some of the running surfaces are really narrow so if you’re trying to run with greater intensity, you might want to think about whether or not that’s the right choice,” says Mody. “Especially if you’re somebody who’s just beginning to run, you want to have as much space as possible in order to figure out your body.” 

Weight limit

A more compact treadmill may come with a lower weight limit, says Mody. Make sure the model you’re eyeing is rated for the right weight range to ensure a run that’s not only comfortable for your run but safe. (In addition to the maximum weight, those who are taller and heavier may want to consider a model with a wider running belt — around 20 inches — for a more comfortable run, says Tamir.) 

Additional product features 

Folding treadmills come with a wide range of optional extras, including basic incline, speed controls and AI-supported workout insights. Here are the features our experts recommend for a better run. 

  • Incline. “An incline is important because the world is not so flat,” says Mody. Not only does running at a one to three percent incline better simulate a natural outdoor run, it also helps to prevent injury. “If you run on a slight incline, it takes pressure off of your knees and your lower back,” says Tamir. He  advises looking for a foldable treadmill with a max incline of at least 10 percent and a max speed of at least 10 miles per hour. 
  • Arm supports. Folding treadmills tend to have shorter arm supports than their nonfolding counterparts. (Or no arm supports at all.) In addition to being a nice safety feature, according to Mody, having an easy to grab hand rail can make for a more comfortable workout for those who prefer to hold on to something when transitioning from walking to running or while using a steep incline. 
  • Workout programs. Fancier treadmills come with guided run programs — think videos of scenic nature trails or workout programs created by run coaches. These aren’t necessary for a good workout but they can be nice. “Video programming can help with holding you accountable, giving you a run that’s more enjoyable, and pushing you a little harder,” Tamir says.  

Safety tips for using a folding treadmill

Any workout carries the risk of injury. At-home workouts without the supervision of a trainer or coach can be particularly risky if you don’t follow a few basic safety tips. Before beginning any new workout program, check in with your doctor. “People who start with an aggressive routine can end up with meniscal tears and muscle strains,” Parmar says. “You have to ease into it.”  

Warm up and cool down

Whether you’re an experienced runner or new to the tread, all the experts we spoke to stressed the importance of having a proper warm-up. There are many ways to do this — a simple brisk walk for five minutes or a series of body weight exercises like squats and lunges to warm up your leg muscles. “You should be doing a warm up for at least five minutes to elevate your tissue temperature to get your heart rate elevated slightly,” Tamir says. 

Start with intervals

“Don’t just start out guns blazing,” says Mody, who recommends easing into running workouts with intervals. “Think about 30 seconds running and three minutes walking or one minute running and one minute walking,” if you’re more advanced, she says. Pacing yourself and cross training with strength building workouts are recommended by both Mody and Tamir. 

Don’t ignore pain 

While a little muscle soreness is normal after starting a new workout routine, pay attention to pain, particularly in the joints. A lot of people feel pain in their knees and think it’s just because they are new to running, says Tamir. “You should not be feeling [pain in] your joints, and if you do, you need to address that,” he says. If you’re serious about running, visiting a running shop where an expert can evaluate your stride and help fit you for the proper shoes can help, Tamir says. 

Keep them away from kids

Treadmills aren’t toys and they can cause serious injury to kids if left unsupervised, says Parmar. “It’s very easy for smaller children to get caught under the moving belt. When you’re not using the treadmill, make sure it’s blocked or put away,” she says. 


Ideally, home workout equipment like a treadmill should be professionally installed. Once you have the proper setup, maintain the machine with regular cleaning to prevent dust buildup, says Tamir, which can cause performance issues over time. 

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest. 

  • Vinita Chandra Mody, MScPT, is a physical therapist and founder of Stroma Physical Therapy in New York. She has nearly two decades of experience as a physical therapist analyzing and adjusting movement patterns and specializes in sports rehabilitation, concussion, pediatrics and women’s health.
  • Noam Tamir, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, FRC mobility specialist, and a pre- and post-natal certified trainer. He is the founder of TS Fitness, a personal training gym, in New York City. 
  • Kompal Parmar, M.D., is a board-certified primary care physician in Lubbock, Texas. 

Why trust NBC Select?

Macaela MacKenzie is a journalist and former Glamour editor who has covered beauty and wellness treatments for over a decade. For this article, MacKenzie spoke to experts including a certified trainer, physical therapist and physician about the potential benefits and risks of using a folding treadmill, including what to look for before you buy.

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