A person running on a treadmill

Update, April 21: The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an urgent safety warning on April 17, 2021, about the Peloton Tread+, based on reports of 39 incidents, including injuries to children and adults, many of them serious. One child has died. Because of the safety concerns raised by these incidents, Consumer Reports has temporarily removed the Peloton Tread+ from its treadmill ratings and is no longer recommending the treadmill while we continue to investigate the issue.


Buying a treadmill can be considered an investment in your health, even if the upfront cost is significant. With regular use, you may even save money, especially when comparing the price of a treadmill to a gym membership. And whether you’re looking to get in shape or training for a race, a treadmill can help you get a stellar workout year-round—in the heat of summer, the snow and ice of winter, or even when your gym is closed.

If you are looking for one of the best treadmills of 2021, CR's ratings give you lots of options to choose from. While a top-of-the-line treadmill can cost $4,000 or more, our recommended models start at just $900. If you’re looking to save even more, you can get a reasonably well-rated budget folding treadmill for $700.

Some of the higher-end machines come with mobile-app connectivity and interactive programs, but if you don't think you'll use those fancy features, one of the simpler treadmills could save you money.

Our buying guide can help you figure out which options are available and what makes sense for your needs.

How We Test Treadmills

Our tests focus on ease of use, construction quality (including design, noise and feel, and durability), ergonomics (how well the machine accommodates different users), exercise range, and user safety.

Exercise range is an important one; that's our assessment of whether a machine is suitable for a variety of fitness levels. It factors in the range of treadmill speeds, incline range, stability, cushioning, and more.

Our user safety tests evaluate the security of folding models, the accessibility of the emergency stop button, the workings of the safety key (which stops the treadmill if you fall), and more.

More on Treadmills

We also perform a durability test using two custom rigs made of a giant metal drum covered in rubber “feet." This runs along each treadmill for a total of 25 hours to simulate half a year of use. The results of that test are factored into our "construction" rating. 

The roundup below includes some of our top picks or best buys from our tests in three major categories: nonfolding treadmills, folding treadmills, and budget folding treadmills. Members can see our full treadmill ratings and reviews.

Top Picks

1

Ergonomics
Construction
Ease of use

2

Ergonomics
Construction
Ease of use
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Maintaining Your Exercise Equipment

No matter what kind of exercise equipment you have, a little regular cleaning helps prevent germs from spreading, and keeps your machine in tip-top shape.

How to Clean
Your Exercise Equipment
Step 1
After every workout, go over your machine’s surface with a damp, soft cloth and mild soapy water. Don’t pour liquid cleaners on it; that may damage the electronics inside. Clean hand weights the same way, then wipe them dry.
Step 2
Sharing workout equipment with others in your household? Clean the handles and other high-touch surfaces with a disinfectant wipe between uses.
Step 3
To reduce dust buildup from around the motors of treadmills and other mechanical items, occasionally unplug the machine, remove the motor cover (your owner’s manual can help you find it), and vacuum the visible debris.

The Rundown on Treadmills

Ready to lose those extra pounds? A former Consumer Reports expert, Peter Anzalone, shows 'Consumer 101' TV show host Jack Rico which treadmill features will give him a run for his money.