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6 best folding treadmills to save space in 2023

Though folding treadmills aren’t as stable as regular ones, they are a good option for walkers and joggers with limited space.
Whether you’re a fervent jogger or a casual walker, a folding treadmill can help you get your workouts in without taking up too much space in your home.
Whether you’re a fervent jogger or a casual walker, a folding treadmill can help you get your workouts in without taking up too much space in your home.NordicTrack

If you’re someone who relishes hitting their 10,000 steps a day but doesn’t always love leaving the house, it’s as good a time as ever to invest in a folding treadmill.

SKIP AHEAD The best folding treadmills | How to shop for folding treadmills | How to run safely on a folding treadmill

While the pandemic forced people to make room for an at-home gym setup with accessories like dumbbells and yoga mats, larger pieces of equipment, like treadmills, are too cumbersome for small apartment dwellers, like myself. That’s where the folding treadmill can come in handy: When it’s not in use, a folding treadmill can be collapsed and tucked under a bed, in a closet or wherever you have space. They’re typically cheaper than a regular treadmill, but lack the maximum speeds, incline levels or program features.

To help you find the best folding treadmill for you and your space, we spoke to personal trainers and running coaches about how to shop for folding treadmills and how they work. They shared their personal folding treadmill recommendations with us, too.

What is a folding treadmill?

Folding treadmills are exactly what they sound like. However, because they are so compact, they are less sturdy than a regular treadmill and may not be able to support the more strenuous workouts you might be used to. None of the options we recommend are able to support more than 300 pounds of weight, either.

“These compact treadmills are nowhere near what you’re gonna see at your general gym,” explained Zach Moxham, a certified personal trainer at Physical Equilibrium in New York City. “A lot of them don’t go up to the speeds of the same standard … but it is a good tool to use when you’re just trying to do a recovery run [or] just get some miles under your feet.” Karen Dunn, a certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified running coach based in Philadelphia, agreed, noting that a folding treadmill can be a good option for those “just looking to gain fitness.”

The best folding treadmills to shop in 2023

The experts we spoke to said that a good folding treadmill should allow up to 7 mph for the average runner. They also noted that the front bar should be located toward the front of the treadmill so it isn’t in the way of the belt when you’re running. With this in mind, the personal trainers and running coaches we spoke to recommended their favorite folding treadmills across various price points. We also included folding treadmills that trainers previously recommended to us.

For each treadmill, we listed some notable specs, including the machine’s maximum speed, weight limit, deck size and incline and decline settings (if there are any). All of the treadmills listed below have a return period of at least 30 days so you can try it out and see how it feels, though some of the retailers (like Amazon) don’t pay for return shipping.

Echelon Stride

Maximum speed: 12 miles per hour

Weight limit: 300 pounds

Deck size: 55 inches by 20 inches

Though Moxham said he doesn’t personally own a folding treadmill, he noted that the Echelon Stride is the one he would buy for his home workout set-up. “It looks like a fairly normal treadmill that you’d see in a gym,” he explained. This folding treadmill, which can fold up at the touch of a button, has 12 incline levels and can go up to 12 mph, which is good for speed work or more experienced runners, according to the trainers we spoke to. The impact-absorbing running deck measures 55 inches long by 20 inches wide, and the touchscreen display shows you your pulse, distance, calories burned and more. The treadmill has a weight limit of 300 pounds, according to the brand.

Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill

Maximum speed: 9 miles per hour

Weight limit: 220 pounds

Deck size: 49 inches by 15.5 inches

In our guide to treadmills, Anthony Crouchelli, master and founding trainer at Grit Bxng, recommended this folding treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness, noting that the shock absorption, is “ideal for runners working to create a low impact on [their] joints from start to finish.” The treadmill has a speed range of 0.5 to 9 mph as well as three manual incline levels. The running deck is 49 inches long and 15.5 inches wide, and according to the brand, it can support users up to 220 pounds.

Sunny Health & Fitness Slim Folding Treadmill Trekpad

Maximum speed: 4 miles per hour

Weight limit: 220 pounds

Deck size: 47 inches by 16 inches

Another Sunny Health and Fitness option, the Trekpad is ideal for hikers to stay fit in the off-season. “Though I wouldn’t suggest running on this treadmill,” said Moxham, “the handlebars give the user a more integrated full body experience.” The machine reaches a maximum speed of 4 mph, far lower than most options on this list, but the handlebars have “convenient” speed controls and allows users to move their arms freely. “With most people working from home,” said Moxham, “this design could easily fit under a standing desk.” It has a 4.2-star average rating from 786 reviews on Amazon.

NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

Maximum speed: 12 miles per hour

Weight limit: 300 pounds

Deck size: 60 inches by 22 inches

Personal trainer Rhys Athayde told us that the best home treadmills “are ones that are compact” or offer “immersive run experiences,” like this NordicTrack option. With a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 15,000 reviews on NordicTrack, the Commercial 1750 Treadmill is a popular pick with many of the same features found in a regular treadmill:a 10-inch HD touchscreen that streams workouts, incline and decline options from -3 percent to 15 percent, a 60-inch by 22-inch belt with adjustable cushioning and speed settings up to 12 mph. Each NordicTrack purchase comes with a 30-day iFit Family Membership — after that, it costs $39 a month. This treadmill has a weight limit of 300 pounds, according to the brand.

ProForm Carbon T7 Treadmill

Maximum speed: 10 miles per hour

Weight limit: 300 pounds

Deck size: 20 inches by 55 inches

If the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 mentioned above doesn’t work with your budget, Athayde recommends trying ProForm’s Carbon T7 Treadmill. The T7’s “belt is short and the screen display is small, but it’s a great trade-off for space and the price,” he noted. The ProForm Carbon T7 has a 10 inch HD screen and has a 300 pound weight capacity.

XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill

Maximum speed: 10 miles per hour

Weight limit: 250 pounds

Deck size: 50 inches by 16 inches

Crouchelli said that he’s also a fan of this folding treadmill from Xterra Fitness, which offers three manual incline settings and 12 preset programs that can be accessed via the LCD display. “The price point is perfect for a budget-friendly individual who wants to get into running without breaking the bank,” he noted. This treadmill can go up to 10 mph, and it also has a slightly larger running deck at 50 inches long by 16 inches wide. It can support runners up to 250 pounds, according to the brand.

How to shop for folding treadmills

Compact treadmills have some limitations compared to regular ones, and shopping for them is a different process outside of the main features like speeds, or incline settings. Below, personal trainers and running coaches explain how to shop specifically for a folding treadmill.

Running deck and belt

A treadmill’s running deck is arguably the most important part of the entire machine because it’s where your feet make contact with the rotating belt as you walk or run. Most runners should be fine with a standard size belt (at least 49 inches long), but if you’re 6 feet or taller, you may need a longer belt to accommodate your stride. Dunn recommended testing out any treadmill before you buy it, if possible. If you’re shopping online, you can also look for retailers and brands with flexible return policies and trial periods.

In addition to the length of the deck and belt, you also need to consider how firm or padded the deck is. “[With] a firmer treadmill, you get more response from it, so possibly a faster, more competitive type of runner might want something that’s more firm,” Dunn explained. “Someone who is more injury-prone and maybe using the treadmill as a way to reduce injury may want something with a little more resilience to it.” If this sounds like you, it may be worth testing treadmills out in-store before purchasing one, if you can.

Another thing to consider while you’re assessing a treadmill’s belt is where the front bar, or screen, is located. “The placement of the front bar can really have an effect because if that’s in your way, then you are going to be pushed back more and more and you’ll be closer to the edge of the treadmill belt,” Moxham explained.

Speed and incline settings

According to Moxham, the average folding treadmill has a maximum speed of about 7 mph, which he said should be fine for most runners and speed walkers. If you are a seasoned runner with a faster pace, though, you may want to opt for a higher-end folding treadmill with a maximum speed closer to 10, or 12, which Moxham also said is great for speed work with short increments of sprinting — “that’s where you’re really going to see benefits,” he explained.

Though some compact treadmill models are unable to incline or decline, Moxham said this shouldn’t be a huge deciding factor for most people. However, if you are looking to burn those extra calories, it may be worth spending the money for those extra features.

Display

Like regular treadmills, many folding treadmills come with displays that can do everything from track your heart metrics to stream on-demand classes. However, Dunn said this is “more of a personal touch” and it’s ultimately up to you whether you want to spend more money for a display.

Weight limit

According to Moxham, folding treadmills typically have a weight limit of around 300 pounds. However, some higher-end folding models — like the Bowflex Treadmill 10 — have weight limits up to 400 pounds.

If you are only going to be using your treadmill for walking, then you should be able to take a treadmill’s weight limit at face value. However, Moxham noted that you need to be a little bit more careful about the weight limits if you plan on running. “It’s the running aspect that’s really going to either damage the treadmill or I think … damage yourself,” he explained. If you plan on using your treadmill to run, you will want some wiggle room between your weight and the treadmill’s weight limit.

How to run safely on a folding treadmill

Whether you’re running on a regular treadmill or a folding treadmill, safety is important. Below, our experts highlight some things you can do to make sure you’re using your treadmill as safely as possible.

  • Maintain a realistic pace. “Pulling a hamstring is a big concern when you have the treadmill going too fast for you,” Moxham explained.
  • Wear shoes. The friction from the treadmill belt can get hot from friction and slippery — wearing shoes can protect your feet and give you some added traction, according to Moxhan. He also suggested switching between running shoes if you run every single day since the foam that most running shoes are made of “takes time to bounce back.”
  • Keep the treadmill away from the wall. “If you were to fall off, you don’t want to be hitting a wall and then [ending up in] an endless tumbling cycle if that belt is going and going and going,” Moxham said.
  • Run outside when you can. When time and weather constraints aren’t limiting you to the treadmill, Dunn said it’s usually better to run outside. “Your gait on the treadmill is a little different than when you’re outside on natural terrain,” she noted.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

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