A woman in sneakers running on a treadmill.
Runners try out two treadmills in CR's test lab.

Treadmills are a big investment. But if you use one regularly, a durable treadmill can end up being more economical than a gym membership. 

Our recommended models start at just $800, and a budget folding treadmill with a reasonably good rating can be had for closer to $600. High-end treadmills can cost you $4,000 or more. 

Some machines come with mobile-app connectivity and interactive programs, but if you don't think you'll use these fancy features, one of the simpler treadmills could save you money, says Peter Anzalone, Consumer Reports’ senior test project leader for fitness equipment.

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-made 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 2019 in three major categories: nonfolding treadmills, folding treadmills, and budget folding treadmills. Members can see our full ratings and reviews here.

Top Picks

1

Ergonomics
Construction
Ease of use

2

Ergonomics
Construction
Ease of use
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The Rundown on Treadmills

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