7 Things to Check Before Buying a Folding Treadmill

Man's feet walking on a treadmill

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When you shop for a home treadmill, you may be drawn to a folding treadmill to save space. A folding treadmill is one where the running deck pivots up and locks so it takes up less space when you aren't using it. It also has wheels so you can move it to and from storage.

Factors to Consider

Treadmill industry expert Fred Waters offers these tips and insights into what to look for in a folding treadmill. Check folding treadmills for these factors when you start shopping for one to use at home.

Space

Check the space requirement for the treadmill both when it is folded and when it is in use. Make sure you know how much space you have to dedicate to the treadmill, both when it is folded and when it is in use.

Get out the tape measure and measure twice, buy once.

Also, keep ceiling height in mind as you will be raised up several inches on the treadmill. If you are using it in a room with a low or sloping ceiling, that may be a factor.

Stability

The rule of thumb is that the cheaper a treadmill is, the flimsier the frame is. As you look for bargains, you need to set a floor beyond which you won't go to sacrifice stability.

The $1,000 level is about where you will see the biggest decline in solidity. Give any treadmill an in-person test to see how it feels for you. Walk, jog, and jump on it so you can see if it will give you a stable ride.

Cost

If you plan to have the machine around for a reasonable amount of time, and intend to use it on a regular basis, then you are going to need to shell out a few bucks. Fred Waters recommends paying at least $1,000 for a treadmill you will use for walking workouts and set the bottom limit at $1,500 if you will be using it for running workouts.

If that is still above your budget, look for good quality used folding treadmills that have been lightly used.

Easy to Fold

The treadmill may say it folds, but it may be difficult to do so. If you have any problems with your back, neck, or knees this is definitely a consideration. Not only can it be difficult to fold the treadmill up, but it may also be a struggle to control the unfolding speed so it doesn't slam down.

Being allowed to drop can place wear and tear on the parts. Look for treadmills that have an easy fold/unfold feature using hydraulics. This is an element that you need to try in person. If you can only shop online, read the reviews and post questions to real-life users for how easy they are to fold.

Easy to Move

You may want a folding treadmill so you can wheel it away to get it out of the way for the rest of the day. How easy it is to move will be an important factor. Many treadmills require you to tilt the heavy treadmill back on two wheels to push it around.

That may be more than you can handle. Again, try this in person or post questions online. Better yet, look for models where four recessed wheels come out when the treadmill is folded, making it much easier to move.

Weight Capacity

Fred Waters says the weight capacity listed by the manufacturer is probably more than it really should be asked to handle. Subtract 50 pounds to get a more reasonable weight limit so the treadmill will last longer.

Heavier users take more of a toll on the motor, belt, rollers, and bearings.

Warranty

You generally have to look no further than the warranty to know whether you are getting a better-quality treadmill. Fred Waters recommends a minimum warranty of one year of service, two years for parts, and five years for the motor. Just walk away from any machine that has only a 90-day warranty.

Best Brands for Folding Treadmills

There are a number of good brands that build folding treadmills. Fred Waters points to Sole as a good brand for quality. There are other brands as well.

For example, NordicTrak has a budget-friendly model (NordicTrack C 1650) that has a web-enabled touchscreen that you can use to workout with your favorite fitness app. Reebok has a model (Reebok 1910) that you can use to browse the web during your walk.

And ProForm makes the Pro 2000, another budget-friendly model that gets high ratings for construction, ergonomics, and exercise range. Whatever choice you make, what is important is that you use the treadmill to get healthy exercise.

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