Best Walking Treadmills – Stay Active in Every Season

person walking on treadmill


As winter is upon us, many of us are taking our exercise routines indoors. A treadmill is a staple at any gym or fitness studio, so why not include one in your home gym? We all know the great physical and psychological benefits of walking. While some of our picks are explicitly designed for walking, many of them are also compatible with running and would make a great versatile machine for your fitness goals now and into the future. Some days it's tough to stay motivated, so we've also picked out the best walking apps to help keep you moving. Once you've got your treadmill set up, you'll want to make sure you have a solid pair of walking shoes.

We've included one specific pick for a budget-conscious option here, but for more, you can check out our rundown of the best treadmills under $1,000.

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The Best Treadmill for Walking - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Treadmill for Walking - Echelon Stride

Echelon Stride

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 69" L x 31" W x 49" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 55" L x 20" W
  • Weight: 156 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Max incline: 10%
  • Max speed: 12 mph
  • Fold for storage: Patented auto-fold feature, folds flat to 10"
  • Screen: Console screen and smart device holder
  • Bluetooth: No, USB only
  • Warranty: 30-day money-back guarantee, 1- or 2-year extended warranty available for purchase

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The Echelon Stride is our choice for the best overall walking treadmill because it has everything you need and nothing you don't. Maxing out at a 10% incline and 12 miles per hour, this treadmill is versatile and capable. The impact-absorbing rubber running deck protects your joints as you walk any distance, but is minimal enough that the whole machine can fold down flat to a height of 10 inches. Two sets of wheels make it simple to transport vertically or horizontally.

This treadmill comes equipped with eight standard programmed workouts. However, you'll really want to try the live and on-demand classes featuring motivating instructors and workouts filmed around the world—on every walk you'll go somewhere completely new, all in your own home.

What We Like

  • Folds flat to 10" for easy storage
  • Metal safety bar to prevent objects from being pulled under
  • Live and on-demand classes included

What We Don't Like

  • Not Bluetooth compatible
  • Limited warranty compared to other models

BUY: Echelon Stride

Best Folding Treadmill for Walking - Horizon 7.4 AT

Horizon 7.4 AT

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 76" L x 37" W x 63" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 60" L x 22" W
  • Weight: 318 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Max incline: 15%
  • Max speed: 12 mph
  • Fold for storage: Hydraulic folding
  • Screen: 8.25" LCD screen and tablet holders
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor warranty, 5-year parts, 2-year labor

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The Horizon 7.4 AT is our pick for best folding treadmill because of Horizon’s patented FeatherLight hydraulic folding technology, which senses when you are lifting the platform and kicks in to do most of the work. When you release the lever, the platform gently floats back into place. The extra large running deck is equipped with three-zone variable response cushioning for maximum flex and support in each distinct phase of your stride.

The Johnson Digital Drive System includes a 500-pound thrust incline motor and smooths the transition as you adjust speed, preventing lags in the belt. The Horizon 7.4 AT is compatible with many popular training apps including Peloton and NikeRun, but also comes with a variety of preloaded programs. If you want complete autonomy, the QuickDial controls make choosing your own challenge the easiest part of your workout.

What We Like

  • Compatible with apps like Peloton, Daily Burn, and Nike, as well as with streaming media such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube
  • 3-zone variable response cushioning takes strike and stride into consideration to minimize impact
  • FeatherLight folding tech for easy storage

What We Don't Like

  • Not a touchscreen, which is often (and should be) standard at this price point
  • Horizon is working to correct some problems with their delivery process

BUY: Horizon 7.4 AT

Best Under Desk Walking Treadmill - Sunny Health Under Desk Treadmill

Sunny Health Under Desk Treadmill

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 50" L x 21.5" W x 6.5" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 39" L x 14" W
  • Weight: 55.1 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs.
  • Max incline: Fixed
  • Max speed: 3.75 mph
  • Fold for storage: Not necessary
  • Screen: Digital monitor
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Warranty: 3-year structural frame, 180-days other parts and components

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For a specific use, we look for a specific product. The Sunny Health Under Desk Treadmill is designed to fit easily under your standing desk, so you can walk while you work. Maxing out at 3.75 miles per hour for safety reasons, you won't be running on this little machine. It is highly recommended to always use this treadmill at a desk, where you'll have something to grab if you lose your footing. Built-in shock absorption will keep your knees and feet happy as you walk through your day.

Small and super light, you can stash the Under Desk Treadmill out of the way when not in use. Because of its small size, this treadmill can only support walkers up to 220 pounds. With a handy remote control, you can adjust speed and stop the machine without needing to bend over to the small digital display by your feet.

What We Like

  • Very lightweight and wheels make it easy to stow
  • Remote-operated so you can easily adjust speed while working
  • Emergency stop clip and active-use sensor will stop belt if user is not detected

What We Don't Like

  • No incline adjustability
  • Max speed is less than 4 mph
  • Lowest maximum weight capacity of our picks at 220 lbs.

BUY: Sunny Health Under Desk Treadmill

Best Manual Treadmill for Walking - Sunny Health Manual Walking Treadmill

Sunny Health Manual Walking Treadmill

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 49" L x 23" W x 50" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 42" L x 13" W
  • Weight: 46.7 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs.
  • Max incline: Fixed at 13.5%
  • Max speed: Manual
  • Fold for storage: Folds flat and has wheels
  • Screen: Digital monitor
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Warranty: 3-year structural frame, 180-days other parts and components

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A manual treadmill is a great option that often doesn't get the screen time it deserves. The Sunny Health Manual Walking Treadmill is lightweight, low-cost, and easy to set up. It's a low-tech option with fewer moving parts, which means less things that could go wrong. Just like walking outside on the sidewalk, your speed is fully determined by your own legs. Additionally, studies have shown that users burn more calories on a manual treadmill.

The fixed incline is designed to keep the belt moving throughout use but has the bonus of adding a bit of challenge to your walk. This is actually our lightest-weight pick, and folds for storage. A simple digital display shows speed, time, calories, and distance information.

What We Like

  • Ultra-lightweight and comes with wheels for easy transport
  • Easy and simple assembly
  • Non-slip handles and weighted flywheels for a smooth walking experience

What We Don't Like

  • Does not include incline adjustability
  • Lowest maximum weight capacity of our picks at 220 lbs.
  • Much shorter warranty than most others—perhaps because of simpler design

BUY: Sunny Health Manual Walking Treadmill

Best Compact Walking Treadmill - ProForm City L6

Proform City L6

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 70.25" L x 29" W x 44.5" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 45" L x 17.5" W
  • Weight: 125 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Max incline: Fixed
  • Max speed: 8 mph
  • Fold for storage: Folds flat and has wheels
  • Screen: Digital display and stand for your tablet
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Warranty: 10-year frame warranty, 1-year parts and labor

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The ProForm City L6 is designed for comfortable walking. The patented ProShox cushioning promises a lower-impact workout experience. Precision-machined, balanced, non-flex rollers are engineered for a quieter, more stable machine. This treadmill maxes out at 8 mph, which is fast enough for most runners, but ideal for walkers.

The built-in tablet holder and Bluetooth capability allow you to fully utilize the 30-day iFIT trial that comes with your new treadmill. Unlike many treadmills which fold to a standing position, the ProForm City L6 folds flat to a height of 10 inches! It was truly designed for the smallest of spaces. Because of this maximum compactness, it does not have adjustable incline settings.

What We Like

  • Easily folds down completely flat and comes with wheels for easy stowage
  • Arrives fully assembled
  • Affordable pricing, without sacrificing many features

What We Don't Like

  • Does not include adjustable incline
  • Weight capacity is only 250 lbs.

BUY: ProForm City L6

Best Walking Treadmill for Heavy People - Sole Fitness F80

Sole Fitness F80

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 82" L x 37" W x 66" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 60" L x 22" W
  • Weight: 278 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 375 lbs.
  • Max incline: 15 levels
  • Max speed: 12 mph
  • Fold for storage: Easy-assist folding
  • Screen: 9" LCD
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frame, motor, and deck, 5-year electronics and parts, 2-year labor

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The Sole Fitness F80 is our best overall pick for the best walking treadmill for heavy people, with a max weight limit of 375 pounds. For more options for heavy people, check out our full article.

The Cushion Flex Whisper Deck reduces impact up to 40 percent, as compared to running on asphalt. It includes six preset programs and two customizable workouts, which display on its user-friendly control panel. The Bluetooth speaker, USB charging port, and tablet/phone holder keep you plugged in while you walk. This treadmill comes with a chest strap, in addition to the standard pulse grips, for more accurate heart rate readings. With 15 levels of incline and up to 12 miles per hour speed capabilities, this is a machine with as much potential as you.

What We Like

  • 375-lb. weight limit
  • Longer and wider running deck dimensions than most machines
  • Cushion Flex Whisper Deck—soft and quiet
  • Starting speed of 0.5 mph

What We Don't Like

  • Larger and heavier machine than most—not as convenient to set up and move around
  • Technology functions leave a lot to be desired

BUY: Sole Fitness F80

Best Budget Treadmill for Walking - Horizon T101

Horizon T101

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 71" L x 34" W x 57" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 55" L x 20" W
  • Weight: 180 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Max incline: 10%
  • Max speed: 10 mph
  • Fold for storage: Hydraulic folding system to standing
  • Screen: 3 blue LED windows and tablet rack
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on frame and motor, 1-year warranty on parts and labor

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The Horizon T101 is a great low-budget treadmill option to get you started with regular walking. The 55-inch deck is designed with three impact zones to specifically cushion feet during the strike and take off. With an incline range up to 10% and speed up to 10 mph, you have a full range of workout options. The Johnson Drive System recalibrates with each foot fall to avoid that annoying lagging and surging you may have experienced with other treadmills. It also runs at lower RPMs for an ultra-quiet experience.

This treadmill includes a built-in device holder, Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated speakers, as well as a rapid-charge USB port so you can stay plugged in for as long as you can walk. The treadmill is lightweight and includes hydraulic folding to make moving and storing it between workouts a snap. The Horizon T101 may be our budget pick, but you sacrifice very little when it comes to features and capability.

What We Like

  • 3-zone Variable Response Cushioning
  • Ultra-quiet Johnson Drive System runs at low RPM to prevent overheating
  • 30-min., quick-and-easy setup
  • Very affordable compared to others in the same category

What We Don't Like

  • Not as sturdy as others for running, not an issue for walking
  • Horizon is working to correct some issues they have had with their delivery process

BUY: Horizon T101

Best Walking Treadmill for Beginners - NordicTrack EXP 7i

EXP 7i

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 77.3" L x 35.3" W x 59.6" H
  • Running deck dimensions: 60" L x 20" W
  • Weight: 222 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Max incline: 12%
  • Max speed: 12 mph
  • Fold for storage: Folds to standing
  • Screen: 7" HD Smart Touchscreen
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Warranty: 10-year frame warranty, 2-year parts warranty, and 1-year labor warranty

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The NordicTrack EXP 7i is everything you need to walk or run your way to a more active life. It has a wide range of incline, from 0 to 12%, and speed, from 0 to 12 miles per hour. With easy OneTouch controls, you can adjust your workout as much as you like. The FlexSelect cushioned belt allows you to decide whether you want a softer surface for a low-impact workout or you would like a more realistic road-walking experience. With that feature, you can mix indoor and outdoor training, while being mindful of your joint health and specific needs.

With the 7-inch HD Smart Touchscreen, a free 30-day iFIT trial, and Bluetooth connectivity, you'll have everything you need to get started. The included programs will take the guesswork out and set you off on the right path for your active journey. The AutoBreeze workout fan will keep you cool, so it's great for hot summer days as well as winter. The NordicTrack is a larger, more sturdy treadmill, but it is still engineered with the SpaceSaver design and EasyLift assist, so it's simple to fold and store.

What We Like

  • Bluetooth audio and 2" Digitally Amplified Speakers for great sound
  • SpaceSaver with EasyLift Assist makes storage quick and easy
  • Roomy running deck, almost the largest of our picks
  • Up to 12 mph and 12% grade allow range of possible walking and running
  • FlexSelect Cushioning lets you decide the level of impact

What We Don't Like

  • Complex to assemble and many people report issues getting it set up
  • Noisy

BUY: NordicTrack EXP 7i

What To Look For in a Walking Treadmill


Size and Weight

When considering the size and weight of your treadmill, it all comes down to the amount of space you want to dedicate to your machine. If you have a small space available and need to be able to store the machine away between uses, a lightweight, folding machine may be your best option. However, if you have the option to keep the machine out and set up, this can make a huge difference in the amount you use the machine—removing the mental and physical barrier of having to set it up before each use. And if you're going to keep the treadmill set up all the time, a heavier machine will generally be more sturdy—and often offer a higher user weight limit.

Speed and Incline Levels

Treadmills specifically designed for walking often have a lower upper-speed limit than traditional running treadmills. If you're interested in eventually transitioning from walking to running or might be sharing the machine with others, you may want to make sure that the upper limit extends to the higher 10 to 12 miles per hour limit.

Many standard treadmills include variable inclines, but some more compact, lightweight, or budget models do not. For walking fitness in particular, varying the incline can offer a more challenging workout and variability of muscle focus.

Features

There is a huge variety of features in treadmills—everything from the length and cushion of the belt to cup holders and a tablet platform. Considering how you plan to use the walking treadmill and what you'd like to have within reach while you're on it will help you determine whether these little nice-to-haves are a necessity for you personally. Hydration is incredibly important when exercising, but if you plan to walk in 20-minute intervals, you may not need water at hand while walking. The tablet stand is great if you're planning to follow a workout program or want to watch the latest episode of your favorite show, but if your treadmill is in the same room as your tv, that may not be a dealbreaker.

FAQs About Treadmills for Walking


Is walking on a treadmill as good as walking outside?

While there are known health benefits to spending time outdoors, we all know that isn't always practical or possible. The benefits of walking on a treadmill are in most ways exactly the same as walking outdoors. Sometimes it's too hot or cold or too snowy, icy, or rainy to get your daily exercise outside. A walking treadmill can help you stay active consistently through all seasons. If you're concerned about the variability of terrain, many treadmills offer adjustable inclines and if you're wondering about the belt doing some of the work for you, check out some manual options.

Is it better to walk or run on a treadmill?

Many of the treadmills that we have chosen have the speed capacity to be used for both walking and running. Walking is a lower-impact activity, so if you are dealing with joint health issues or are in a heavier body, it is a great option to stay active without over-stressing the knees and feet. Some machines offer more cushioning than others to protect your joints for higher-impact activities like running. We believe that being active is the number one priority—so if walking is what you do to stay active, then great! And if walking is a gateway to running, we love that too.

Should you hold on while walking on a treadmill?

The handrails of treadmills are there to keep you safe and on the walking deck. You don't need to hold on the entire time you are walking unless you are struggling to stay in the center of the deck. With practice, most users can walk hands-free during their workouts and use the handrails mostly to mount and dismount the machine, or to track heart rate.

At what speed should I walk on a treadmill?

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish! Walking at any speed is a great way to get your blood pumping, keep your muscles engaged and active, and clear your head. Different heart rates and effort levels will yield different physical results—but being active is always the first goal.

About the Author

Christine Reed

Christine Reed is a long-distance backpacker, trail runner, rock climber, and author of the thruhiking memoir, Alone in Wonderland. She believes that the right gear can be the difference between an amazing adventure and an absolute disaster and she loves helping new hikers find their way to the trail.

See More from Christine

Christine Reed is a long-distance backpacker, trail runner, rock climber, and author of the thruhiking memoir, Alone in Wonderland. She believes that the right gear can be the difference between an amazing adventure and an absolute disaster and she loves helping new hikers find their way to the trail.

See More from Christine

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