Can you really use a treadmill for a low-impact workout?
Short answer: Yep!
“Walking on a treadmill is considered a low-impact form of exercise,” certified personal trainer and studio owner Lauren George told CBS Essentials. “Running is, by nature, a high-impact workout; however, selecting a treadmill with a cushioned belt and built-in shock absorption technology can lessen the impact and wear and tear on your joints.”
So yes, the right treadmills offer excellent joint-friendly workout opportunities.
Interested in buying one of these treadmills? Then read on for the best low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts. Plus, get expert advice on how to make your treadmill workout low-impact.
Low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts
Here’s a quick look at the best low-impact treadmills.
Consider these treadmills from Bowflex, WalkingPad, Sunny Health & Fitness and more.
Best monitor: Bowflex treadmills
The Bowflex treadmills are worth the splurge because of their impressively cushioned belts.
“If you are looking for a treadmill that can help you take your running to the next level, the Bowflex line of treadmills’ sturdy design and excellent tech deck are a great fit,” George says. “The longer, cushioned belt is ideal for heavier mileage.”
Bowflex treadmills boast motorized incline ranges from -5% to 20% for your cardio session, Comfort Tech deck cushioning, SoftDrop folding systems and Bluetooth capabilities. They also come with a one-year JRNY membership ($149 value), which grants you access to the JRNY app, featuring a wide range of fitness classes taught by world-class trainers.
“One feature that the Bowflex JRNY offers that is above and beyond other workout platforms is that it adapts with you as you progress,” George says. “The app suggests different workouts as your fitness improves.”
Easiest to store: WalkingPad C2 Mini foldable walking treadmill
Just in case it’s not totally clear: Walking is a fantastic, low-impact form of exercise. If you just want to walk, this mini treadmill is also the perfect size to slide under a standing desk. When it’s not in use, this fitness machine can be folded to almost half its size for easy storage, so it’s the best treadmill for a small space. Choose from five colors.
“If your goal is to up your daily step count without compromising your house decor, the compact WalkingPad is an excellent option!” George says. “You can fit it under a standing desk to accrue more steps while answering emails, or hop on for a stroll while watching TV. The belt is also designed for maximum cushion and comfort.”
WalkingPad C2 Mini foldable walking treadmill, $450 with code WPSPRINGFIT (reduced from $600)
Easy to assemble: Runow folding treadmill
This low-impact folding treadmill has three incline options and an LED monitor that tracks your speed, distance, calories burned, time and pulse, all while you’re working out. And if you’re worried about joint pain, there’s more good news: This piece of gym equipment has a shock-absorbing system that protects your knees and ankles.
Even better: It takes only 15 minutes to assemble.
Runow folding treadmill, $480 (reduced from $700)
Above-average weight capacity: Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill
Speaking of walking for a low-impact workout, the T7643 walking treadmill by Sunny Health & Fitness would make an excellent addition to your home gym. The treadmill boasts a 19.5-inch-wide surface for walking or running and an above-average weight capacity of 350 pounds. It’s equipped with two bottle holders (even walking can be thirsty work) and a space for your tablet or phone.
A good fit for speed walkers and light joggers, the T7643 walking treadmill can reach speeds up to 6 mph. The built-in digital monitor displays your burned calories, speed and distance covered while working out. This piece of home gym equipment’s deck can be folded into the frame. Plus, it’s often on sale.
Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill, $650 (reduced from $770)
Extra shock absorption: Sunny Health & Fitness electric treadmill
If a bunch of fancy tech isn’t important to you, check out this affordable treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness. It has an LCD monitor where you can see your distance and time, and a pulse grip, but no confusing smart tech beyond that. Also find nine workout programs and three levels of adjustable incline. You can fold this treadmill and stow it away after use. Even better: It promises to have extra shock absorption for joint-friendly workouts.
Sunny Health & Fitness electric treadmill, $343
Best for recovery: Exerpeutic TF2000 recovery fitness treadmill
If you’re in recovery mode, check out this specialty treadmill. It has handrails all along its belt for balance. The handrails are padded for comfort, and this walking treadmill has an LCD display showing time, speed, distance, calories burned and pulse. It has a 300-pound weight capacity and its belt is shock-absorbing, which is better for delicate or injured joints.
Exerpeutic TF2000 recovery fitness treadmill, $649
How can you make your treadmill workout low-impact?
First, invest in a quality treadmill with the right features.
“Making sure that the treadmill you choose will effectively absorb the shock of your run should be a primary concern,” certified personal trainer, certified nutrition specialist and “American Ninja Warrior” contestant Julie Lohre told CBS Essentials. “Running can be rough on the joints, so good cushioning can help protect your joints and prevent injury. Deck thickness makes a difference, as does the quality of the deck material. Ideally, you want the deck to be 3/4 of an inch thick.
“Also, some treadmills use cushioning material like foam, gel or air pockets that can absorb some of the downward forces created when running.”
And what is a low-impact workout you can try out on your new treadmill?
“For an excellent low-impact tread workout, incorporate hiking intervals,” Lohre says. “Use the tread’s incline feature to adjust the slope of the deck. It is amazing how difficult a fast walk can be when you are at a high incline!
How we chose these treadmills
When picking the best low-impact treadmills, we considered:
- Authentic customer reviews: We combed through verified customer reviews to ensure that real buyers are consistently pleased with these brands and products.
- Expert recommendations: We spoke with certified personal trainer and studio owner Lauren George and certified personal trainer, certified nutrition specialist and “American Ninja Warrior” contestant Julie Lohre about low-impact treadmills and joint-friendly workouts.
- Star rating: All of these products have a four-star rating or higher.
- Your unique needs: We picked treadmills for walking and running; budget shoppers and those looking to splurge; and more.
Read more about how we review products
Related content from CBS Essentials
- Low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts
- Best monitor: Bowflex treadmills
- Easiest to store: WalkingPad C2 Mini foldable walking treadmill
- Easy to assemble: Runow folding treadmill
- Above-average weight capacity: Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill
- Extra shock absorption: Sunny Health & Fitness electric treadmill
- Best for recovery: Exerpeutic TF2000 recovery fitness treadmill
- How can you make your treadmill workout low-impact?
- How we chose these treadmills
- Related content from CBS Essentials