Treadmills Buyers Guide

9 Reasons To Buy A Treadmill

  1. You like the privacy of working out at home.
  2. You need low-impact regular exercise.
  3. You need a machine to build distance, endurance, and speed goals.
  4. You want something to walk your dog on.
  5. It’s a crucial piece of your very own home gym.
  6. You want a clothes rack that doubles as a guilt-trip tucked in the corner.
  7. You were advised to walk more — but you also want to watch t.v.
  8. You have to work out on an irregular schedule.
  9. You want to turn it into a manual generator to complement your solar panels.

Console Features

dashborad of tredmill
Programs – Electric treadmills have multiple pre-programmed workouts that can vary speed, incline, decline, and resistance. You can also create your own program. A few treadmills offer programs and displays that take you through famous landmarks during your workout.
Variable Speed – Most treadmills can be adjusted to any speed between the minimum (0) and maximum speed. If you are a fast runner, you’ll want a treadmill with a powerful motor that can reach those faster speeds. Most treadmills will go up to 12 mph, but not over for safety reasons.
Speakers – Any treadmill with speakers should also come with a port for an iPod or an MP3 player, or the ability to wirelessly connect with your technology. Check your music delivery tech to make sure it’s compatible.
Fans – On many treadmills, fans are integrated on the body of the treadmill in order to cool you down as you work out.
Phone/Tablet Docking Station – Electric treadmills have multiple pre-programmed workouts that can vary speed, incline, decline, and resistance. You can also create your own program. A few treadmills offer programs and displays that take you through famous landmarks during your workout.
Cloud Communication – The latest integration for certain brands of treadmill. These treadmills allow you to save your home workouts on your own machine, sign into those workouts at the gym using the same brand of treadmill.
Heart Rate Monitor – Many treadmills come with a heart-rate monitor to measure workout intensity.
man holding a phone heart rate monitor

Space, Size, and Storage of Treadmills

How Much Room You Need For Your Treadmill

Doorways - Keep the width of your doors in mind – if you can’t get the treadmill into your room, how are you going to run on it? Treadmills wider than 30 inches may be difficult to get through single width doors.
Placement - You need to have 2 feet away from any walls or obstructions on all sides. This ensures air to the motor isn»t blocked, and that you have room to move around the treadmill. This is also a safety measure so you can get off of the treadmill on all sides without hitting the wall.
Space Limits - If you have space limitations, a smaller treadmill that folds and stores may be for you. However, many smaller treadmills don’t have the power to handle running or jogging on a continuous basis, and may be less durable under those circumstances.
Head Room - If your treadmill inclines or declines, don’t forget to include extra head room. Many home gyms begin in the basement. Add at least 2 feet to your own height to ensure the proper head room for running on an incline treadmill.
Picture of treatmill
Stride Chart Running Stride* Jogging Stride Walking Stride
Avg. Strid, Men”s 74” 35”–62” 31”
Avg. Strid, Women”s 58” 30”–52” 26”
Belt Width 24”+ 18”–24” 16”+
Belt Length 67”+ 50”–66”+ 44”+
*The running length measures a marathon’s stride, and not a sprinter’s stride, which is much longer
Low Price Range Mid Price Range High Price Range
$0–500 $500–1500 $1500–3000+
Fewer Features Many Features Most Features
200–350 lb Capacity 250–400 lb Capacity 250–400 lb Capacity
Manual or Motor Motor Motor
Small Footprint Large Footprint Largest Footprint

What Size Treadmill You Need Based On Your Stride

The speed you walk and run at will affect how long and wide your stride is. So will your height and leg length. If you’re long-limbed or plan on using the treadmill to jog or run, choose a treadmill with a wide belt and a long running surface from 67–84 inches. If you are shorter and are using the treadmill to walk, you can choose a shorter length from 50–66 inches.
Stride can also be determined by the surface you’re running on. Inclines and declines encourage shorter strides. Flat surfaces encourage longer strides. If you are using a mixture of inclines, declines, and flat areas in your program, choose a longer treadmill in order have the room needed for the longer stride. Narrow belts work best for short, controlled strides.

Stowaway Options

Many treadmills come with a folding or stowaway option. Take into account these factors before choosing.
Weight - What is the weight of the machine? If it’s very heavy, then it will fold and store in one place. If it’ light (under 50 lbs), you may be able to move it into storage in a room, closet, or garage.
Angles - Some larger treadmills can fold, but they often slant at a 70 degree angle, rather than rest vertically at 90 degrees.
Safety - Don’t forget: Any piece of heavy equipment that folds is a safety hazard for young ones. Keep all treadmills out of the way of children. Kids should always be supervised around treadmills, folded or open.
Woman pushing up her treadmill to store it

Technical Features

Man running on treadmill

Motors & Horsepower

Motors – The power of the motor directly translates to how fast the treadmill can go and how durable the treadmill is. Bigger motors tend to last longer.
  1. Manual – You are the manual motor. Manual treadmills don’t need any power besides your muscles and a couple of batteries. For that reason, they tend to be less expensive than electric treadmills.
  2. Electric – An electric treadmill may be powered by two motors, one for the belt, and one to change the incline of the deck. An electric belt sets the pace, and you follow it.
Horsepower – Used to measure the power of the motor.
  1. Continuous horsepower is for extended treadmill use without the power dropping off. Walking: 1.0 – 1.5 hp. Jogging: 1.5 – 2.0+hp.
  2. Peak horsepower is the maximum power a treadmill can generate for a short period of time. Sprinting: 2.0 – 3.0hp.
Watts and Usage – The wattage power rating tells you how much electricity the treadmill uses. The motor will determine your treadmill’s wattage rating. Your energy use will be fewer watts for activities like walking on a flat surface, and more watts for running on an incline.

Decks & Belts

Decks – The deck is the platform the belt runs on. Thicker decks provide more cushioning and less impact on joints. Some decks can adjust to an incline to make you run uphill. A few can also adjust to a decline to make you run downhill. Otherwise, the deck will be a level, flat surface.
Incline – The deck can be slanted upward for more resistance, either manually or through a motor.
  1. Manual inclines often have a set number of inclines they can adjust to, such as 4 placements – 3%, 5%, 7%, and 9% incline.
  2. Power incline can adjust while you are running and can be set anywhere between 0–15%, depending on the model.
Belts – The belt circles the deck when pushed by the motor. Lengths and widths of the deck vary, and you should choose the length and width that is the most comfortable for your unique stride. Stride is dependent on speed and unique factors like leg length and height. To see averages, view our Stride Chart.
Treadmill belt
Man using a touch screen Man running on treadmill

Interfaces and Safety

Control Panel – Every electric treadmill should come with a control panel to adjust speed, incline, decline, programs, and workout durations.
  1. Displays may be LCD (like an old black and green digital clock), LED (like a light–emitting new digital clock), or touchscreen for the newer models.
  2. Depending on the treadmill’s features, the control panel can tell you speed, distance, heart rate, pace, calories burned, laps taken, time elapsed, incline, music playback and volume, workout programs, and more.
Safety Features – Most treadmills will not start up unless the safety key is in place. With the key clipped to the user, if the user falls, the clip will pull out the safety key and stop the treadmill. This emergency stop feature is required for all newer treadmills.
Footrails/Handrails – Footrails are part of the deck, and they are a place for you to set your feet while you wait for the belt to stop. Wider footrails make getting on and off the treadmill easy to do. Handrails come in a wide variety of styles and may include features like cup holders. They’re main purpose is to provide more stability and security for those who need it, but they shouldn’t get in the way of your arms, or make entering the treadmill difficult.

Treadmill Deliveries, Set-Up, and Warranties

Delivery and Assembly Services: Remember to include the shipping or delivery service charge in your treadmill budget. Our stores offer a delivery and set-up service for any treadmill purchased in that store. If you buy your treadmill at, the treadmill will ship to your address, and you can purchase assembly services from a Sports Authority near you with an available service*. Make sure the boxed dimensions can fit through the door, and you have cleared a space where it’s going to live before the treadmill arrives.

*Some of our stores don’t carry treadmills or assembly services for treadmills.

Man running on treadmill
Man running on treadmill
Self-Assembly: Every treadmill should come with a manual that includes all assembly instructions and all warranty information. If your treadmill doesn’t come with a manual, please call our Customer Service (1-888-801-9164) so they can find one for you online, or call the manufacturers, and they will send one to you. Follow your assembly instructions step by step, and enlist the aid of others in order to move or hold the treadmill in place. Above all, be safe!
Replacement Parts and Warranties: Your treadmill manual will explain the warranties for the frame, parts, and labor. If you have any parts that need to be replaced, or any questions about the warranty, please call the manufacturer’s customer service number provided on the back or the front of the manual. For this reason, please keep your treadmill manual in a drawer shoved back behind the dishtowels so if your treadmill does break down, you know who to call. (And it’s probably not Ghostbusters.)
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