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Cast your mind back to March 2020, and the first lockdown: at-home fitness equipment started selling out online everywhere as people sought a means of keeping fit that didn’t involve hitting the gym.
Thankfully, lockdowns are for now a thing of the past, but at-home treadmills remain a popular purchase, an easy, convenient means of staying fit without having to leave the house.
Is it worth buying a treadmill?
At first it may seem unnecessary to invest in a treadmill when running is an activity you can undertake in the great outdoors. But if you can afford a treadmill, the convenience they provide is great.
Firstly, and perhaps mostly obviously, it allows you to exercise regardless of what the weather is doing, or the time of day. No worries about visibility, sleet, wet, ice - at the moment this is quite the boon.
With children at home, as well, it can allow you to incorporate exercise into your regime without worrying about who is minding the children.
What do I have to watch out for?
The downsides of a treadmill are two-fold. The first is that even if you opt for a smaller model, you’ll need a reasonable amount of space in your household dedicated to storing your new piece of kit.
The second is the issue of the smell. Ensure wherever you store your treadmill is well ventilated, unless you want a room of your house to permanently smell of stale sweat.
Good airflow and - if you can - an air purifier will make sure you’re not stuck in a household that reeks like a high school boy’s locker room.
What is the difference between a cheap treadmill and a more expensive one?
Of course, budget wise, you’re going to purchase whatever you can afford, but as with most things, the more you spend, the more high-performing your purchase will be.
Even if you’re not interested in some of the more swanky bells and whistles that treadmills can come with, such as video displays, Bluetooth, sound systems, be advised that a pricier treadmill will likely be quieter, able to go to a higher speed, and feel more comfortable underfoot, thanks to ‘dampening’ technology.
Cheaper treadmills can often make for a noisy, knobbly footfall, which can make it more difficult to run longer distances. This is especially worth considering if you are older or have joint pains, or an irregular running stride.
This is the market leading treadmill in the UK at the moment - and it's on sale, with £400 off the RRP.
With cushiontop technology and a large deck, it will both absorb the impact of your stride and allow adequate space for you to move comfortable. A top speed of 20kph will allow sprinters and those working on their anaerobic threshold to sprint at great speed, while the 15 per cent incline and 43 pre-set programs are ideal for keeping you challenged.
Every detail you miss from a gym treadmill is present: great grip underfoot, a bright, wide display, dual bottle holders, even an iPad holder. It folds away easily as well. A proper star.
This is a particularly impressive machine, especially if you find yourself missing the features a gym treadmill offers. With a seven inch touchscreen and one touch control, it’s a piece of cake to switch up (or down) the intensity of your workout.
The machine goes up to 22km/h - perfect for HIIT running - and an incline of up to 12% for hill-running.
As with the other Nordictrack treadmill on this list, it’s seriously good at cushioning the impact of running, if you’ve dodgy joints at all (or simply want to avoid getting them).
And it comes with a free one-year subscription to iFit, so you’ll be able to do fun, interactive workouts for a year.
This is a popular inexpensive option. It folds away easily, making it good for those with limited space.
That said, the low price tag comes with a few drawbacks - the running surface is narrow (not great if you’re broad), and the top speed is 12km/h - so if you are interested in improving your speed there’s no scope here.
It does have three incline levels, though - so you can challenge yourself with hill running.
Looking for the gym experience at home? Look no further. This commercial treadmill offers one touch control, inclines from -3 to 15%, and up to 22km per hour speed - perfect if you like sprint or fartlek training.
The video display allows you to take interactive sessions with personal trainers who will control your speed, incline, or decline in real time, to really put you through your paces.
We’re seriously impressed with the Commercial 1750- it’s quieter than most treadmills, offers a comfortable fool-strike, and has a self-cooling system to ensure it doesn’t over-heat.
One year’s iFit membership comes with purchase, allowing you to join in interactive classes for no extra cost.
We are - we have to admit - not well disposed to non-motorised treadmills, finding them uncomfortable to get a steady cadence on.
That said, if you’re after a cheap, quiet option, this popular non-motorised choice from Decathlon is your best bet.
It folds away easily, and has a non-adjustable 15% incline, so you can run uphill. If you’re new to running or quite slow-paced, this will work for you - long-time runners will likely find it frustrating.
This mid-range model is an excellent option. Easy to assemble, with a top speed of 16 k/ph and an incline range that goes up to 12%, unless you’re a sprinter you’ll likely find it able to put you through your paces.
The cushionstep makes it pleasant under foot - it’s not too knobbly or noisy - and it folds up easily to be stored away.
The speakers work well, though the built-in fan isn’t impressive (they usually aren’t, unless you purchase a commercial model). You’ll need to give the machine a decent oiling ahead of use but otherwise it’s an excellent, inexpensive option.
Lontek’s Treadmill will allow you to run up to 15 km/h. It’s a narrow number that folds up easily, meaning you can store it when not in use.
Apart from an LED screen display and stereo speakers, there are no bells and whistles here, but if you’re happy running at a steady pace, the Lontek will serve you nicely.
Not too pricey, there’s a great deal to like about the Proform, which offers a wide workout deck, making it comfortable to run on.
There’s not as much dampening as you get with the Nordictrack options (that’s the price difference for you), but it doesn’t feel knobbly or rickety like the budget choices.
What you do get, though, is a machine with a 18 km/h top speed - more than enough to challenge most runners - and an incline of 10%. The iPad holder is handy if you like watching telly as you run.