10 Best Small Treadmills for Your Home or Apartment
Get your steps in while staying safe at home with the best compact and foldable treadmill options that are geared for small spaces.
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The rise of small treadmills and the home gym
Treadmills are trendy again. Although treadmill usage declined from 2015 to 2017, the cardio tool has since forged something of a comeback, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
Now that researchers are forecasting a Covid-19 winter—with even more state-mandated lockdowns, social distancing, and mask-wearing laws going into effect—many Americans are looking to invest in treadmills for small spaces so they can continue their home workouts.
Because let’s face it—treadmills can be large, heavy, and take up a lot of space. So it’s no surprise that people may be looking for a compact or small treadmill that can work in an apartment or a small room in a home. And better yet if it’s a folding treadmill that can be stored away when not in use.
Whether you are walking or running, what better way to keep your step count up and stay safe at the same time? (This is how you can avoid Covid-19 at the gym.)
How to choose the best treadmill for home use
“When considering your options for compact treadmills there are a lot to choose from,” says Chris Gagliardi, the scientific education content manager for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and an ACE-certified health coach and personal trainer in San Diego. “But one fundamental question you should ask when you begin your research is: Do I want a motorized or non-motorized piece of equipment?”
Beyond that, space, price, and model features—such as a heart rate monitor, programming options, incline, decline, weight capacity, and speed range—are all important to consider, adds Steve Stonehouse, a certified personal trainer in Orange County, California and a director of education for STRIDE.
“If you want to get more of a burn in the legs, running or walking on an incline will deliver that,” says CJ Hammond, a certified trainer with RSP Nutrition in Los Angeles. Hammond believes the best small treadmills max out at around 10 to 15 miles per hour to allow for sprint intervals. (Fast-paced running is one of the workouts that burn the most calories.)
After you’ve satisfied the basics, consider a treadmill’s emergency features, suggests Gagliardi. “Does the belt stop if you fall? How easy is it to stop the equipment once it is in operation? Because you may be using this equipment at home alone it’s important that you make your own safety a priority,” he says.
Bonus tips for selecting the best small or compact treadmill
Once you’ve narrowed your choices for the best small treadmill down to two or three models, Gagliardi suggests the following (especially if you can’t test them in person):
Seek out relevant reviews about each small or compact treadmill.
Watch video-based demonstrations of people using the treadmill.
Use the chat features on product websites to ask specific questions if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for.
Call customer service to ask questions.
Use your social media platforms to solicit feedback and advice from people you trust.
Ask if there is a nearby distributor of the product or a gym that carries the equipment you are interested in and see if you can try it in person.
Find out if additional equipment is needed or if a specific type of outlet is necessary. Ask: Does the treadmill require a plug? What should be placed underneath it? How much space is required? How far should it be from walls, furniture, or other exercise equipment?
Determine how easy it is to get replacement parts or service when needed.
Read on for the best small or compact treadmills for every budget to help you get in your steps at home. (Also, be sure to avoid these treadmill workout mistakes.)
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T1407M Manual Walking Treadmill
If you’re new to the treadmill game and have a limited budget, this is the perfect small treadmill for you. With a weight limit of 220 pounds, this non-electric treadmill is foldable, compact, and lightweight with transportation wheels so you can easily move it around your home. It contains an LCD monitor that allows you to track your time, speed, steps, and calories burned. Plus, the non-slip foam handlebars provide additional support when you want to pick up the pace. It supports a maximum weight of 220 pounds. (Psst, this is how you can walk more steps per day.)
Merax Easy Assembly Folding Treadmill Motorized Running Jogging Machine
For an electric and foldable option, this is an ideal treadmill that contains easy transportation wheels to move around wherever you choose to work out. It contains a large LCD display that tracks the basics, including speed, time, distance, and calories burned. Also, it allows you to go up to 7.5 miles per hour (MPH) for those who want to keep up a faster pace. The maximum capacity is 240 pounds. Bonus: You can play music via the treadmill’s speaker if you have a flash drive that supports a .mp3 format. (Want more cardio? These are the best exercise bikes to buy.)
Weslo Cadence G 5.9i Cadence Folding Treadmill
If you’re looking for an inexpensive folding treadmill with Bluetooth capabilities, this one’s it. It requires you to activate your one-month iFit membership upon purchase to access personal trainers’ top treadmill workouts. However, you can bypass the iFit activation by holding down the Bluetooth button when your machine is turned on. Other notable features include a tablet holder. It supports a maximum weight of 275 pounds and goes up to 10 MPH. (Make sure you have the proper workout attire with the best leggings for exercising indoors.)
XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill
With three manual adjustable incline settings, a 0.5 to 10 MPH range, and an LCD display that tracks speed, incline, time, distance, calories, and pulse, this compact treadmill delivers a lot for the price. It’s also a breeze to fold up and roll away for easy storage. “It’s important to remove or reduce as many barriers as possible when it comes to adhering to an exercise program,” says Gagliardi. “If setting up the piece of equipment itself is a chore, then that alone can be a barrier to your success.”
Goplus Under Desk Electric Treadmill
This under-the-desk electric treadmill is a great option if you want something discreet while you work. Its shock-proof design is intended to limit possible vibrations and noise from walking. Plus, its slim design allows you to store it under the bed or sofa. The treadmill has three workout tiers and 12 programs built-in to provide variety. It goes from 0.5 to 4 MPH and has an LCD display that includes time, speed, distance, and calories. In the event of an accident, it comes with an emergency brake button on the remote control. (Make sure you follow these best tips for desk ergonomics.)
Lifepro Pacer Folding Treadmill
Although this model maxes out at 8.7 MPH, it’s among the top-rated compact treadmills on Amazon. That might have something to do with its easy foldability and storage, 12 automatic incline levels, 40-plus training programs, Bluetooth-enabled built-in speakers, and backlit-LCD screen that displays your incline, distance, time, calories, pulse, and speed. The clincher? A lifetime warranty with live support from Lifepro’s “guiding angels” means this compact treadmill is in it for the long run.
“Always check out the specifics on the treadmill’s warranty,” suggests Stonehouse. “You never know if or when something will go wrong and you want to make sure the company will stand behind their product.”
OMA CAI Treadmill
This one’s the goldilocks of treadmills for small spaces. It has a 300-pound capacity, quiet motor, and a console that allows you to choose from 36 preset programs, challenge others virtually, and blast your music from Bluetooth speakers. It’s also foldable, and has a lifetime 24/7 service troubleshooting, 0 to 15 percent incline, and a maximum speed of 11.2 MPH. For about half the cost of the most expensive model on this best compact treadmill list, you get a mix of features that just might make it easier to stick to a consistent running or walking routine.
“The key to a successful exercise program or lifestyle change is not dependent upon the cost of a piece of exercise equipment,” says Gagliardi. “It’s dependent on your personal motivations, experience, enjoyment, and ability to keep moving in a regular and purposeful way day after day.”
NordicTrack T-Series Treadmill
With many of the features of a Peloton for about $700 less, this compact treadmill is a nice mid-range price option. It comes with access to live or on-demand workouts for one year for up to five users; a 10-inch HD touchscreen; 0 to 10 percent incline and 0 to 10 MPH speed range; a space-efficient folding design; and a 10-year frame, two-year parts, and one-year labor warranty.
When deciding between two styles, Gagliardi suggests asking yourself: Do I need this feature to be successful with my exercise goals? Is this feature necessary? For example, if you’re buying a treadmill that will be placed near a television, you may not need one that comes with a monitor. “The secret to any exercise program and lifestyle change is consistency,” he says. “If there are certain features that you think will help you to be more consistent or make the exercise experience more enjoyable, then those features should be considered.
“Before you even start shopping, make a list of the features that are important to you and stick to your list when evaluating the variety of products,” he adds.
3G Cardio Pro Runner Treadmill
This small treadmill has a stronger engine horsepower than most on this list and 350-pound maximum user capacity. The console tracks pace, speed, incline, and heart rate (with handle pulse monitors). The 3G also has a wide incline range of 0 to 15 percent and can speed up to 12 MPH. Each machine comes with a lifetime frame warranty, five-year part warranty, and one-year labor warranty. “Understanding the length and coverage of the warranty is very important, as is the amount and frequency of maintenance required to maintain the product,” says Gagliardi. (Here’s what you need to know about walking for exercise.)
Like the Tesla of treadmills, this model is pricey—but worth it, according to the legions of ardent fans who like to take virtual live and on-demand Peloton classes from celebrity trainers. It comes with a 12-month warranty, a 24-inch HD video touchscreen, a 0 to 12½ MPH speed range, and a 0 to 12½ percent incline. Delivery and assembly is also included so you can hit the ground running after this compact treadmill gets to your door.
“Ask yourself, ‘What do I need to be successful?’ ” suggests Gagliardi. “This is so important when it comes to any type of exercise plan and especially important when it comes to continually and enjoyably using your new piece of exercise equipment.” If your answer includes a pre-assembled, instructor-included luxe model, the Peloton might be the best treadmill for you. If the price point is out of reach, look for “refurbished versions of higher-quality treadmills that still have plenty of life left,” Stonehouse says.
- Chris Gagliardi, the scientific education content manager for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and an ACE-certified health coach and personal trainer in San Diego, California
- Steve Stonehouse, NASM, CPT, Orange County, California-based director of education for STRIDE
- CJ Hammond, an XPS-certified trainer with RSP Nutrition in Los Angeles
- International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association: "Treadmills are the Comeback Story of 2019"
- Texas Medical Association: "Know Your Risk During COVID-19"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Cluster of Coronavirus Disease Associated with Fitness Dance Classes, South Korea"