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The best home treadmills for walking and running.

Best Home Treadmills From CR's Tests

These top-performing models will help any user hit his or her stride

The best treadmills are supportive and well-built, and vary their routines to keep you engaged. On the flip side, lesser models make you painfully conscious of the fact that you’re walking or running, feeling less like Usain Bolt and more like Sisyphus, forever condemned to roll a boulder up the hill.

But before you drop thousands on a top-tier treadmill, you should know that there are big differences among models—chief among them the ability to fold for storage. Treadmills that do fold tend to be less expensive and designed for more casual users, and stationary models offer solid construction and large running belts, favored by runners because they can accommodate a long stride.

Whichever way you lean, start with Consumer Reports’ treadmill buying guide, then make sure to try a few models in the store. “It’s important to get a treadmill you enjoy using,” says CR test engineer Peter Anzalone. “If you’re not having fun using it, you likely won’t be using it for long.”

If you need some help getting started, read on for three favorites from our tests, suitable for every fitness level.

How We Test Treadmills
At CR, we know just how important exercise is to healthy life. To help you get the best home exercise equipment, we test and rate treadmills from a variety of brands, including AFG, Bodyguard, Horizon Fitness, Landice, LifeFitness, Precor, Sole, Xterra, and more.

Our tests focus on ease of use, construction quality, ergonomics, exercise range, and user safety. Though the term sounds odd, exercise range is an important one—it indicates whether a machine is suitable for a variety of fitness levels. To measure exercise range, we factor in the range of treadmill speeds, incline range, stability, cushioning, and more.

Our user safety tests evaluate the accessibility of the emergency stop button, the workings of the safety key, the security of folding models, and more. The last thing you want to do is trip like Taylor Swift.

We also perform a unique durability test using a custom test fixture built by CR test engineers. We have two of these rigs—dubbed Johnnie Walker Red and Johnnie Walker Black—each consisting of a giant metal drum covered in rubber “feet” that run along each treadmill and simulate half a year of use.

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1
Baby Stepper
Sole F63

Sole F63

The budget-friendly folding Sole F63 offers solid construction and a robust range of programs for the price, including a built-in chest-strap heart-rate monitor, which can adjust your workout in real time based on feedback. In addition to docking a smartphone, the built-in Bluetooth can sync to the Sole Fitness App, allowing you to track workout history, build a profile, and set goals. Our tests generally find that nonfolding models are best for serious runners with a long stride, but for a reasonable price, the Sole F63 offers a lot for an entry-level user with room to evolve, too.

    2
    Serious Strider
    3G Cardio 80i

    3G Cardio 80i

    If you don’t mind paying a premium, this treadmill offers high-end features. And you can fold it flat and stash the machine under the bed when it’s not in use. That makes model best suited for a space-cramped but serious user, who will take the extra step of wheeling it out of storage before each workout. It should be noted that folding down to a 10-inch-thick profile is impressive, though it can be tricky to maneuver once it’s flat. When it’s expanded to full size, you’ll find that the 3G Cardio 80i offers solid construction and thoughtful features for walkers and runners, including side hand-grip controls to change incline and speed settings in motion. Despite being relatively lightweight, it fared well in our durability tests.  

      3
      Routine Runner
      Sole TT8

      Sole TT8

      If you have the space—and resolve—to run almost every day, the Sole TT8 is a well-built machine that can be tailored to a serious user’s needs. In addition to side-grip controls for speed and incline, this model lets you create a negative incline to simulate downhill running—a feature that will keep veteran users interested while engaging different muscle groups. It can use Bluetooth to pair with the Sole Fitness App, allowing you to build a profile, track progress, and set goals. One disappointment: Though the machine has custom heart-rate-controlled programs that vary based on user feedback, you’ll need to pay extra for the chest-strap heart-rate monitor itself.

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        Daniel Wroclawski

        I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).