How to buy the right treadmill is perhaps the perfect example of a “first world problem”.
You know, those minor things that we think are a nuisance but are in sharp contrast to the challenges in developing countries. Do I really need to buy a machine in order to get enough walking during the day?
- 1 Is Buying a Treadmill For Home Worth it, or Just a Waste of Money?
- 2 Are Treadmills a Good Form of Exercise?
- 3 Will a Treadmill Help Me Lose Weight?
- 4 The Reviews
- 5 Finally, What’s My Verdict on Best Treadmills For Home ?
In spite of the irony, we still want to make the best choice on how to spend our money. Keep reading for an overview of what’s out there. I’ll describe key features, how they may help you, and the benefits that can be gained from using a treadmill. You’ll see details on five options that span the price ranges.
Armed with this information you’ll likely feel more confident in your buying decision.
According to Livestrong, the treadmill is the most popular exercise machine in the world. It was originally developed for manufacturing in 1875, and it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 60’s that it was used for exercise.
Due to this long history and popularity, there are now a lot of models and variations to choose from. The simple concept of walking on a stationary machine has become swamped with options. If you look at the treadmills in the gym, you may be shocked at the prices they carry. But how do you know if lower priced models will perform as you want? There are so many choices to filter through.
Is Buying a Treadmill For Home Worth it, or Just a Waste of Money?
Most of us want the assurance that we’re not throwing our money away on something useless. How do we know that this is a sound investment? The answer lies within you, as a Jedi Master might say. If you use it on a regular basis, you are practically guaranteed better health. That will make your purchase worth it.
The list of benefits from frequent exercise is quite long.
Naturally, you can get the same effects from walking or running outside. The cost is free, and the air and scenery might be much fresher. However, if you live deep in the city, or have a full schedule, it may not be quite as safe or practical to exercise outdoors.
Another option is a health club membership. It’s pretty easy to do the math and see how long it will take to pay off a home treadmill compared to gym fees. If you’re a social person, it may be worth it. Being around like-minded people working on their health can be encouraging.
For many of us though, the gym is just one more “errand” that we have to fit into our day. The convenience of a treadmill at home outweighs the benefits of a health club. Besides, maybe we prefer the privacy of our house rather than being on display for the fitness geeks.
Back to the question. If the other options don’t appeal to you, and you commit to walking or running regularly, the answer is definitely “yes!”
Are Treadmills a Good Form of Exercise?
Treadmills can be a great way to exercise for a wide variety of users because they have different settings. But let’s back up.
Treadmills are for walking or running unless you get extra creative. Since both of these are natural movements that we routinely perform, they are a safe and good way to exercise. In this U.S. News & World Report article, Dr. Michael F. Roizen gives impressive statistics on the benefits of walking and running.
With a treadmill, it’s easy to increase the intensity of your workout as you gain strength. This article describes “wogging” as a combination of walking and running. The slightly increased speed can have significant benefits, and doesn’t require much adjustment to the equipment.
Besides having a speed control to up your pace, most treadmills offer an incline feature to simulate hills. By adding a slope to your steps, it creates a bit more of a strength workout to your routine. You’ll also notice more load on your cardiovascular system, which further improves your endurance.
Treadmills provide exercise based on our natural movements. This is a good thing, but there is one exception worth noting. Some people have injuries or conditions that may require accommodation. Examples include rehab from surgery, poor joint health, and balance issues.
Will a Treadmill Help Me Lose Weight?
Since this is related to the previous question, the answer is a qualified, “yes.” One could summarize by saying, “Use it to lose it.”
A treadmill sitting alone in your basement will not help you lose weight.
The real question is probably, “compared to other machines, are they a good way to lose weight?” Most experts agree that cardio workouts are better for weight loss than strength exercises. That means treadmills are high on the list for fat burning.
However, some home gyms offer versions of both strength and endurance workouts. If you’re willing to put in the work, these may get you to your goals faster. Here’s article with excellent information on types of exercise and weight loss.
A higher intensity level will burn more calories. This link is aimed at women, but it outlines a good plan for anyone to increase their pace and gain more benefits.
As mentioned earlier, the treadmill market is loaded with choices. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just five for a closer look.
I used these criteria:
- Currently for sale on Amazon.com,
- At least a four-star rating,
- A minimum of 100 consumer reviews.
Then I compared features and benefits and chose models in three price ranges.
The most expensive one may not be the best for you. Look carefully at what they offer and what you really want or need. In the end, I give my verdict on the winner.
Weslo Cadence G 5.9
The Weslo Cadence G 5.9 has earned a “Best Seller” distinction on Amazon.
This doesn’t mean it’s the perfect match for everyone. It does indicate that it’s a good value and performs well at its price point.
Speaking of price, this is the least expensive of the five reviewed. There are cheaper machines, but I didn’t feel like they offered the quality of the G 5.9. This has all the basics, plus a decent track record.
Some lower end treadmills are “walk only”. The speed maxes at around 4 mph and they have a lighter motor and construction.
The G 5.9 has a weight capacity of only 275 lbs., but it has the speed (10 mph) and motor for running on it.
A simple display shows speed, distance and calories burned. The thumb pad for reading your pulse is a nice feature, although not good for a constant readout.
For a starter treadmill, I’m pretty confident in this one. If you run a lot or want to something to “grow into”, I recommend spending the money for a more advanced product.
- Low price point for getting started
- Quiet operations, Ok for an apartment
- Built for running, but at a low price
- Some issues with packaging and shipping
- Limited features and settings
- Not for the serious runner
I have written a detailed review on Weslo Cadence G 5.9 , I have discussed in depth on features/benefits, I am sure you would get enough information to make a decision.
Sunny Health & Fitness
The Sunny Health is another value priced model with good reliability. It has nine workout programs and the benefit of a constant pulse readout. The 3 incline settings and 9 mph speed capacity give it the versatility needed for moderate users.
The Sunny isn’t the best match for tall or heavy people.
The 48 inch long deck is the shortest of the review. The belt is also slightly narrower than the Weslo. If you have a smaller stride, it’s no big deal, but be aware of it if you have long legs.
The Sunny Health is one of the quietest models in the review. This is not only an important feature for those in close quarters; it makes it easier to watch TV while exercising.
A unique feature with many Sunny Health products is that you can get them in different colors, including pink. This may not change your buying decision, but is something to consider if you’re fashion conscious.
Compared to the Weslo 5.9, the Sunny has more workout programs and a slightly better heart rate monitor. The motor, speed, and total weight are about the same. The Sunny’s belt is shorter and a fraction narrower and it has a lower weight capacity of just 220 lbs.
- More workout programs and incline settings
- Very quiet
- Available in different colors
- Short and narrow track
- Lighter weight capacity
- Not for the serious runner
Horizon Fitness T101-04
The Horizon T101-04 is up a considerable step from the first two treadmills. The price also jumps, so make sure the added features are really what you need.
The T101-04 has earned some “Best Buy” type of awards. This makes it similar to the Weslo, in that it has earned a reputation that makes it easier to trust.
A common indicator of quality is the warranty a product has. A lifetime of coverage on the frame and motor gives assurance that the Horizon is built to last. The 300 lb. weight capacity puts it in the same zone as machines that are more expensive.
All the treadmills in the review have cushioning, but the Horizons is unique. The softest area is where your foot strikes. The middle and back section of the deck gets progressively firmer so that when you push off it’s more efficient in transferring power from your stride.
Predictably, with the higher price come fancier computer functions. Thirty programs across five different categories give plenty of options. For some folks this is overload, and they never use more than one or two. Other people like the variety to keep them motivated to train and working towards their goals.
The Horizon goes beyond being a basic treadmill. Niceties like speakers with an MP3 jack, a fan, and a hydraulic assist for folding make it an all-around better machine.
- 30 workout programs and a 10% incline setting
- Variable cushion deck
- 300 lb. capacity and limited lifetime warranty
- Heavy enough that it’s not easy to move around
- Good, but not gym quality
ProForm 505 CST
The ProForm 505 CST is nearly the identical price as the Horizon. So which one is better? Since the differences are minimal, it may come down to personal preference.
ProForm has been in business for 30+ years. They claim to have 20 years of being the #1 brand in terms of units sold and dollars made. They are partners with the Boston Marathon and the Tour d’France, which are both world-class organizations. Relationships like this speak to their commitment to high end products that can be trusted.
The ProForm 505 has 18 workout programs. This is fewer than the Horizon, but that may be an advantage if you’re not a tech junkie. A huge variety of options can be interesting, or overwhelming, depending on your viewpoint.
The ProForm 505 is compatible with ProForms iFit technology. The iFit membership package must be purchased separately, but opens a whole new world of possibilities.
The iFit programming mimics running on streets across the world, including changing the resistance as you go up or down hills. It provides new workouts every day so that boredom is never an option. The data tracking gives you power to analyze any aspect of performance that you want, and then make improvements. It’s an outstanding feature, but does cost extra.
The console on the 505 is very large, although the actually readout is average size. The speakers also seem bigger, but a treadmill will never sound like your stereo or home theater system. An iPod dock makes it simple to listen to your favorite playlist without the discomfort of headphones while you sweat.
- 18 workout programs and a 10% incline setting
- Compatible with iFit technology
- 300 lb. capacity, lifetime frame and 25 year motor warranty
- Heavy and not easy to move around
- Fewer programs than the Horizon
ProForm Pro 2000
I included the Pro 2000 in this review to show how a high-end treadmill compares.
Although it is the most expensive one here, it is by no means at the top of the price range of what’s on the market.
There’s no question that it’s a step above the other machines, but you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra cost. Like the Weslo and Horizon, it has earned “best buy” status in reviews. It’s in a different class than those treadmills, but still a great value.
There are two types of runners who may benefit from spending the money for what it offers.
1- The avid trainer who wants more options for demanding workouts.
2- The motivationally challenged who likes the idea of so many options to keep them interested.
There’s little threat of wearing out this machine by frequent use. It’s not at the commercial gym level, but the high power motor, wider rollers, and 350 lb. weight capacity are designed to hold up. On the functional side, the Pro 2000 goes up to 12 mph. The tilt feature goes up to a 15% incline to give an extra challenge for running or walking.
There is no shortage of extra features also. The speakers are 3” instead of 2” and the 7” computer display is easy to see. The included wireless heart rate strap means that you don’t have to hold onto the grips to get a continuous readout of your effort. A built-in fan blows right where you need it.
The biggest downside may be the weight. In its packaging you can expect it to be at least 230 lbs. and awkward. Double check dimensions to be sure it will fit through your doors. Even a strong man will want assistance hauling it anywhere that isn’t level.
- 32 workout programs and a 15% incline setting
- Wider and longer deck
- Compatible with iFit technology
- 350 lb. capacity, lifetime frame and 25 year motor warranty
- Very heavy and requires two people to move around
- Higher cost
- Might be overwhelming for the wrong user
Finally, What’s My Verdict on Best Treadmills For Home ?
I almost feel like there’s no right answer to that question. It boils down to “you get what you pay for”.
At each price point, these treadmills are excellent options. They had to make the cut just to be listed here.
The Weslo is cheaper than the Sunny King, and I would recommend it for the entry-level buyer. The difference in features and price of the Sunny didn’t add up at this level.
If I could have any machine I wanted, it would definitely be the Pro 2000. It’s at the top of our price range, but still on the low side of performance treadmills. If you’re a consistent runner looking for challenges, this is the machine for you.
The Horizon and Pro 505 are nearly equals and right in the middle in terms of cost. My best recommendation for the “average” user is to go with the Horizon Fitness T101-04. If you decide you like something about the Pro 505, and can find it at the same or lower cost, it’s a great buy.
For me, the Horizon hits the sweet spot between price and value. It has everything “necessary” in a treadmill. The special features like hydraulic assisted folding and a variable cushioned deck set it apart. This review sums it up without any flowery language.
An extra bonus is their great customer service if you have issues.
In summary, I’ll say it again. Within their price range, these are all good products. Spend some time assessing your needs. After that, check your wallet. Then buy one of these treadmills to stay healthy for the long term.
|Weslo G 5.9||Sunny King||Horizon T101-04||ProForm 505||ProForm Pro 2000|
|# of Programs||6||9||30||18||32|
|Weight Limit||275 lbs.||220 lbs.||300 lbs.||300 lbs.||350 lbs.|
|90 days part & labor||90 days motor, part & labor||Lifetime frame & motor, 2 yr. parts, 1 yr. labor||Lifetime frame, 25 yr. motor,1 yr. parts & labor||Lifetime frame & motor, 5 yr. parts, 2 yr. labor|