While the pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, my fellow runners have certainly experienced the itch of needing to move their bodies, only to be trapped indoors due to the latest COVID restrictions. As anyone who has taken an interest in personal health and fitness knows, simply switching to weight lifting or some other exercise does not translate into being a good runner. To stay good at running or walking, you need to actually run or walk, necessitating some sort of indoor running regimen to keep up your stamina and preserve your runner’s body.
Treadmills are a great way of bringing an outdoor exercise indoors and making it easy to track running stats as well as heart rate, all while staying in an air-conditioned environment, water bottle close at hand. The downside is that, depending on which model you buy, it can take up a ton of floor space and be very noisy – not a set-up likely to promote marital bliss when you’re already trapped in the house together for extended periods of time. In this article, we’ll discuss the necessary criteria for picking out the best compact treadmill for you and your family, as well as the best compact treadmills available on the market today.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Compact Treadmill?
Treadmills come in all different sizes, and some are more ergonomically engineered, while others are pieces of plastic thrown together. Our search will be geared towards finding high-quality treadmills that take up minimal space, which are more suited to everyone trapped in small living spaces during this trying time. In addition to these basic criteria, however, are others that are very important for us to remember and that, while possibly easier to forget, are no less important.
Looking at the weight capacity, the size of the LCD display, the maximum speed and incline capability – these are all necessary considerations when making your purchase, but these all fall into the functional analysis of each treadmill. The five criteria important to consider for any purchase are cost, function, appearance, warranty, and ratings.
#1. Cost: The cost is always an important consideration, not least because while we can decide that this machine is the most suited for us in the world, that doesn’t mean we have enough money to physically buy it.
#2. Function: The functionality compares the specs of each treadmill, looking at things like shock absorption, screen display, and top speed settings. This criterion has the most influence on which machine is ideal for which user, as this completely ties into what the user is hoping to get out of their compact treadmill.
#3. Appearance: The appearance doesn’t just include the aesthetic look of the machine and whether it looks modern or rickety, but also the dimensions when laid flat or folded, so that you will have a clear understanding of how much space each treadmill requires.
#4. Warranty: Obviously with the hope that you’ll never have to use it, the warranty is still an important consideration for you before making a purchase, as this is the company telling you ahead of time how much support you can reasonably expect to receive from them if something goes wrong before its time.
#5. Ratings: Fellow consumers were brave enough to take a risk on new, unrated products, and while we applaud their altruism, the following list of treadmills includes only those that have been vetted by other shoppers and judged to be high quality. Their personal experiences and responses are valuable sources of intel for us and not one that I will ignore in giving you a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each compact treadmill and which one is truly right for you.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Compact Treadmill
I researched compact treadmills from many different top brands as well as the lesser known ones and compared their specs and performance, as well as their cost and overall look. The following list is designed to highlight 5 really great treadmills that are suitable for different consumers based on different priorities.
Some people want a way to have a daily walk to get the blood moving during work or catching up on the news and therefore will want a treadmill that doesn’t go very fast, while others will need a high-speed treadmill to get that hardcore running sweat workout in the mornings. One machine is not better than the other, just suited to different people. So let us begin!
#1: XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The XTERRA Fitness is black with dark grey accents. While being pretty standard when it comes to average treadmill sizes, what sets the XTERRA apart and makes it a compact purchase is that it is a folding treadmill. This really is the best of both worlds. No sacrifice is made in the size of the running belt, so your workout is still satisfying, and it allows even the tallest people to stretch their legs. When the treadmill is not in use it occupies much less space than a normal or small treadmill normally would. With a comfortable 16 inch by 50 inch running surface, there is plenty of space for the walking and running strides of people with a wide range of heights and comfort levels.
The XTERRA reaches a maximum of 10 mph and has a horsepower of 2.25, meeting the needs of the vast majority of people. The manual incline setting means that you can push your run to the next level, but the slower walking settings make this a machine suited for multiple users, where some need a more intense run and others are just looking to get the body moving.
The handgrip pulse sensors give your heart rate readings while you exercise. The 5 inch LCD display is easy to read, making observing your stats easier and keeping you focused on your performance during hard workout burns. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a more relaxing workout, the accessory holders on the console are a convenient place to put a water bottle, personal speaker, phone, or any other form of reading material or visual screen.
The heavy steel frame makes the XTERRA a sturdy buy. This is a folding treadmill that won’t rock while you’re walking and jogging. The XTERRA also comes with 12 preset exercise programs that emphasize different exercise goals like endurance for longer workouts or speed with quick spurts of energy, so that your regimen stays dynamic and exciting. Finally, the manually operated pin for folding or unfolding the XTERRA treadmill is easy to use, while the transportation wheels make moving this model easy and quick.
The XTERRA sells for a middling price – not close to the most expensive, but not the cheapest when it comes to compact treadmills. Additionally, the 250 lbs. limit means that this treadmill cannot accommodate people on the larger side, especially if they happen to be large giants who intend on doing anything more intense than a brisk walk.
But when it comes to general high performance and function within these parameters, the XTERRA not only offers all the necessary uses but also has a great record. Consumers said that, even after two years, they were super jazzed with this purchase and very happy with its overall performance. One consumer said that the customer service was excellent and that for the price, the quality was great. Finally, people said that this treadmill was easy to assemble and that while sometimes a bit loud, not disruptive.
XTERRA offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, 1 year for the motor, and 90 days for parts and labor. With unfolded dimensions of 29 inches wide, 63 inches long, and 51 inches tall, this treadmill is the ideal walking and running size. Folded, the XTERRA is 28.5 inches by 29 inches by 61 inches tall, giving you the ideal paradox of a full-sized treadmill that takes up a fraction of the space.
For anyone looking for a generally high-quality treadmill that they can do the walking, jogging, and high intensity running on – for a reasonable price – and expect long-term, great machine performance, this is the perfect compact treadmill for you.
#2: NordicTrack T6.5S Treadmill (Best Luxury Treadmill)
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The NordicTrack T6.5S Treadmill is a league apart from a normal treadmill. This is another full-sized but folding treadmill design, minimizing the inconvenient space it takes up, but still giving you the full, comfortable stride required for the ideal run.
The NordicTrack exudes power and modernity. The 5 inch touchscreen user interface is sleek and organized, making choosing the included workout programs non-stressful and easily accessible. The Nordic can reach an incline of up to 10 degrees, a steepness that quickly teaches the meaning of a love-hate relationship, and the maximum speed is 10 miles per hour, so even the overachievers running a six-minute mile can be satisfied on the NordicTrack.
The NordicTrack Treadmill has a pairing compatible sound system, so you can take full advantage of the internal speakers to annoy the rest of the household with your favorite playlist. NordicTrack has a partnership with the iFit company, so this folding treadmill comes with a 1 month free trial for the iFit app. While iFit and NordicTrack have a very close working relationship, so much so that the NordicTrack foldable treadmill is meant to be used in unison with many iFit workouts of varying intensity, for the buyers who prefer to do their workouts alone, the Nordic can be activated independently by pressing and holding down the icon.
NordicTrack has a motor horsepower of 2.6 and can support a maximum weight of 300 lbs. without shaking. Other small amenities like the handle grip heart rate monitor and the convenient resting area for water bottle and phone make using the Nordic a comfortable pampering experience, similar to the one supplied by the gym, except without a treadmill covered in other peoples’ sweat. Finally, the space-saving design and wide tread belt (22 inches by 55 inches) means you don’t have to shorten your strides during your run.
The NordicTrack is the most expensive exercising machine on this list, but if you’re looking for the top, highest performing, compact treadmill for running and high-intensity workouts, this is ideal for you. With a minimal folded footprint, but with an extended footprint of 67.5 inches long and 35.75 inches wide, running is made easy and fun. NordicTrack company provides a 10 year warranty on frame, 2 years for parts, and 1 year labor, so you know you can depend on them for a long time to come.
The consumer response was enthusiastic and widespread. Most people were blown away with the NordicTrack performance and experience, as well as enjoyed the iFit membership for the great, interactive workouts and hands-on professional coaching. The few who were upset with the Nordic chalked their disenchantment up to not knowing how to use this treadmill without the iFit, a problem solved once you know the correct way to use the machine.
Overall, there’s nothing that equals the NordicTrack Foldable Treadmill for performance, convenience, and luxurious dependability. If you can afford to spend a little more, this is the ideal compactable treadmill for you.
#3: Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill (Best Walking Treadmill)
The Sunny Health and Fitness Treadmill has a solidity to it. It is a reassuring grey body that you can depend on to withstand frequent and energetic runs. A money saver, the Sunny folding treadmill reaches a maximum speed of 9 miles per hour, and with its space saving design, it occupies minimal floor space when folded, making this another treadmill that is easy to shove into a corner. Adjusting the speed has never been easier, as the buttons are positioned directly on the handrails. So if you want to slow down or speed up during your run, adjustment takes less than a second.
The motor runs with 2.2 horsepower and has a maximum incline of 4.37%. The Sunny treadmill is a bit on the smaller side, so larger men and women will need to look elsewhere for their ideal treadmill, as the Sunny folding treadmill has a maximum weight capacity of 220 lbs. With a slightly smaller running belt measuring 49 inches long and 15.5 inches wide, the Sunny is also more suited to a smaller build. Longer legs and larger frames will not be comfortable attempting to run on this machine. That said, for those looking for a walking treadmill, the Sunny will perform great for people of any size, as a man’s average walking stride is in the 30 inch range, leaving plenty of comfortable walking room for everyone.
The Sunny Foldable Treadmill comes with 9 preprogrammed workout plans and has excellent shock absorption, sparing your joints from harmful stress injuries through repetitive jolting. Additional features include the heart rate monitor in the handles stationed right beside the buttons controlling the speed, start, and pause. The main display shows the workout time, distance, speed, and calorie burn. It also has a multi-media tray and a water bottle holder. Finally, a cool feature unique to the Sunny Health treadmill is that it has a soft drop system that minimizes risks of it falling on your hands when raising or lowering it.
Due to its smaller size and less powerful engine, the Sunny Health sells at a lower price than both the XTERRA and the NordicTrack, making it an attractive alternative for those of smaller stature looking to save money and have a more compact treadmill. The full product dimensions are 62 inches by 25.5 inches by 50 inches tall. When the Sunny is folded, it has a 36 inch by 25.5 inch footprint.
While the company warranty doesn’t cover purchases made out of the US, within the US the warranty is pretty solid, covering the frame for three years, and insuring the parts and components for 6 months.
While the Sunny is not the heaviest lifter in its field, its ratings and buyer response were very positive, with people saying that it works great and is ideal for small spaces. Amazon customer service also received a nice call-out, one consumer saying that they were quick and efficient in replacing materials damaged during shipping.
For someone vertically challenged like me, this is a great, affordable alternative to more expensive, larger treadmill models.
#4: Weslo Cadence G 5.9i Folding Treadmill (Best Low Cost Treadmill)
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If getting a good workout on a tight budget is your goal, the Weslo Cadence G 5.9i has great performance ratings and still is by far the cheapest in its category. A flat, uninteresting grey, the Weslo’s charm is in being a cheap, functional, compact treadmill that has good ratings. Measuring 29 inches by 64.5 inches by 55.5 inches high, the Weslo Cadence has comfort cell cushioning, which is ideal for shock absorption, and a 16 inch wide running belt, making this small treadmill ideal for at-home gym set-ups.
The Weslo Cadence runs at 2.25 horsepower, which is very respectable, and has a top speed of 10 miles per hour. With a manually adjustable incline, there isn’t much that the Weslo doesn’t provide compared to other compact treadmill models. The LCD display is on the smaller side while still being large enough to display workout stats, and the console is clearly labeled and easy to understand.
With compartments on either side of the main display for things like phone, water bottle, portable speaker, and more, as well as a multimedia rack for propping up your tablet or Kindle, the Weslo Cadence is a pretty convenient and well-planned compact treadmill.
The one serious point of contention with the Weslo is that it has a relatively small running belt, making it uncomfortable for the longer strides of a taller person. However, similarly to the Sunny, this boils down to the intended use of each consumer.
If you are looking for a means of getting your body moving, the Weslo is an ideal walking treadmill, as the cheapest in its category – truly a find for my budgeters. For a more advanced athlete, you may want to consider spending a little extra for a more intense exercising experience.
The incredibly affordable cost aside, the Weslo Cadence is covered under a 1 year motor warranty and 90 days for parts and labor – not the most impressive warranty we’ve seen thus far, but with an option to upgrade to 3 or 4 year coverage. Able to accommodate up to 275 lbs., the Weslo is surprisingly more durable as well as cheaper than the Sunny, so buyers that were eliminated from Sunny eligibility can find their ideal buy with the Weslo. Receiving pretty solid reviews, shoppers said that it ran quietly, functioned well, and gave them a good workout.
While not the best compact treadmill ever, this treadmill is a trusty little option for people looking to spend as little as possible on the bare minimum.
#5: Horizon T101 Treadmill (Best Motor)
The Horizon T101 Treadmill is a high-end compact treadmill, comparable to the NordicTrack in quality and price point. The large grey treadmill looks and feels great, really providing that feeling of security and comfort. With special cushioning technology, the Horizon T101 allows you to train for longer and push your body harder, as your muscles need to compensate less for jarring, harsh, consistent impact. The initial set up after delivery is easy, taking less than 30 minutes and being super straight forward.
Like the NordicTrack, the Horizon compact treadmill can connect to your phone through Bluetooth and play your favorite soundtrack through the internal speakers, giving you some nice surround sound while you run. Completing the technological party is the quick-charge USB port and the multimedia holder where you can put a tablet or phone, so that either you can space out or stay super linked in. Additionally, the compartments on either side of the console are very convenient for keeping all sorts of things close at hand, like a water bottle, towel, or even a snack (no judgment).
Horizon Folding treadmill has a three LED window display, showing you calories burned, distance traveled, and overall time. Additionally, preprogrammed are regimens that prioritize things like stamina, speed, or weight loss.
With one-touch keys, you can change incline (up to 10%) and speed, and the motor is a powerful 2.5 horsepower driven machine. With a maximum top speed of 10 miles per hour, the Horizon is sure to satisfy even the more aggressive runners, and with small additions like energy saver mode and a built-in cooling fan, the Horizon overlooks no detail in giving you the ideal running experience.
The unfolded Horizon has an impressive 70 inch length, 34 inch width, and 55 inch height, but with one-step hydraulic folding, collapses down to a much more convenient 46 inches by 34 inches, with a 61 inch height, allowing you to shove it in a corner but remain visible enough to show all your friends how committed you are to health and exercise!
Finally, the Horizon company provides a lifetime frame and motor warranty, while parts and labor are covered for a year. With a full refund within 30 days of delivery, the Horizon treadmill has no downside except possibly its size.
Of all these models, the Horizon T101 remains the largest even when folded, so someone struggling for space is not going to be able to accommodate this larger machine. However, while the smaller sizes are more convenient, the smaller the treadmill, the less suitable it is for larger, taller users. Additionally, the larger the user the more relevant the horsepower is. A bigger person is going to want a more powerful machine – one that can sustain consistent, high speed under heavier conditions. For this reason, the Horizon T101 is the ideal compact treadmill for bigger customers who want more intensive runs.
Horizon also got great customer reviews, with comments about the smooth, quiet run and easy fold. Definitely pricier, if you’re bigger and a serious runner and can afford to invest a little more, this is the best treadmill for you.
Knowing when to spring for the more expensive product and knowing when to limit yourself and budget is all about being honest with yourself and what you can and cannot afford. On the one hand, to get something that has real benefit and value, you need to be willing to pay for it – essentially to put your money where your mouth is.
However, as irritating as it might be, even if we want something and believe in its value, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can afford to buy it. While none of the products listed below will come close to providing all the functionality of a treadmill, these are things that have a definitive, positive impact on your workouts and can bring a real improvement to your fitness and health.
#1. ANCHEER Pedal Exerciser (Under $150)
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The ANCHEER Pedal Exerciser is a small, under the desk, mini, elliptical model. For those trapped at home looking for a simple, efficient way to increase their exercise and activity the ANCHEER is an ideal way to literally kill two birds with one stone – get your work done and work your muscles simultaneously.
The ANCHEER can be used either for arms or legs, although most efficient under the table, and has 8 resistance levels, so you can ramp up or cool off depending on what kind of exercise intensity you’re looking for. With a steel enforced frame, the ANCHEER is small and dependable, providing you with quiet, consistent motion while you work or read.
Consumers were very enthusiastic about the ANCHEER, saying that, while the assembly was a bit difficult, using the ANCHEER was great and super rewarding. For someone who can’t afford a treadmill right now, the ANCHEER is a nice addition to your daily routine.
#2. Stamina 55-1602 Inmotion Elliptical (Under $100)
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Available in green, orange, and silver, with black accents, the Stamina can be used either standing or seated, so that the difficulty of the workout is based on your personal preference and schedule. Additionally, this little guy provides either forwards or backward pedaling motion, emphasizing and working different muscles and giving your leg and core muscles a good challenge.
Stamina was praised for being effective and quiet, and consumers were pleased with their experiences with the product and company. If you’re trying to get some extra movement into your day and a treadmill isn’t for you, this is a nice alternative.
#3. Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistance Band (Under $50)
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A similar idea to the ANCHEER and the Stamina, the Sunny Mini Stepper offers a full-body workout, activating arm, core, and leg muscles for a full-body tone and great caloric burn. The Sunny Mini Stepper is a small design that cycles two foot pedals, giving you a nice stationary walk, activating your core muscles through the balance required to stay on, and getting your arms to feel the burn with the included training bands.
A small but convenient way to exercise and work on your tone, the Sunny has great customer reviews and is a small purchase well worth the investment. For my truly committed budgeters, this is a great option until you can afford your ideal compact treadmill.
Is a Compact Treadmill Definitely Right for You?
There are many available treadmills on the market today, so whether a compact treadmill is right for you partially depends on your living situation, but also depends on whether you are right for a compact treadmill.
First, if you are someone who lives in a cramped living space, it is logistically impossible to shove a treadmill, which is inherently a large machine, into an already tight spot. Then, even if there is room somewhere for a treadmill, there is still the noise issue and the issue of having to navigate around the treadmill every time you want to get to the other side of the house. Even those people with a garage face the issue of having to relocate the car and explain to their partner why the family car is covered in dust and fallen pollen.
Once you’ve determined that a compact treadmill is right for your living space, consider whether you are right for a treadmill. If you are interested in a treadmill as a way to walk while getting your work done, then a very compact treadmill is just what you need. However, if you’re a high-intensity runner, a compact treadmill might not be able to satisfy your demands.
As demonstrated above, compact treadmills are not all created equal, and some are simply unable to accommodate high-intensity exercise for people with longer strides or support heavier runners, unless they are willing to spring for a more expensive purchase that has a greater maximum weight capacity. These considerations will directly affect your overall user satisfaction with your compact treadmill purchase, and you should ponder them carefully before making your decision.
Verdict: The Best Compact Treadmill for You
While the search for the ideal treadmill for a small space can be a bit overwhelming, keeping in mind the necessary criteria and taking an honest look at what kind of use you want from your purchase will go far towards helping you decide which one is right for you.
If you want a great treadmill for a middling price and with a nice LCD display as well as a comfortable running belt, the XTERRA Fitness TR150 will make you and your family very happy.
If you can afford to splurge a little more on a high-intensity treadmill that will maximize calories burned and give you a nice range of speed and incline, along with access to a wider community of fellow fitness fanatics and trainers, then the NordicTrack is your ideal choice.
Finally, if all you need is a treadmill to get you moving while doing work or watching the news, then the Sunny with its nice setup and great incline potential is the perfect deal for you.
I hope that this analysis has helped you along in your search. Break a sweat!