The Best Treadmills for Walkers

The best treadmill for walking has a comfortably roomy belt surface, a sturdy frame that doesn't shake with every step, and an easy-to-read console that lets you hit your stride with minimal button pressing. We tested nine treadmills to see how they felt under our feet and how easy they were to operate. Two of them matched up perfectly with walkers' needs.

The Best Treadmills for Walkers

Best High-Tech Treadmill
ProForm 505 CST
ProForm
A smooth-functioning treadmill with an elegant console and a bargain price.
Pros
Exceptional tech
Usable in motion
Ergonomic
Cons
Learning curve

Why we chose it

Exceptional tech

ProForm 505 CST exceeded our expectations in just about every area. It’s a sleek, modern machine with a sturdy build and ergonomic design. We particularly loved the ProForm's simple, easy-to-understand controls. We found ourselves pressing buttons without needing to decipher their function first; we somehow knew what the symbols meant. While the console is clean and uncluttered, it’s far from basic in appearance: It looks like the treadmill of the future. We were floored by this $600 treadmill’s stats, convenience, and smart design. Plus, its iFit compatibility opens up another level in fitness programming and personal tracking.

Usable in motion

The average treadmill console features two vertical rows of speed and incline controls, going up by single-digit integers. ProForm switches this up, setting controls horizontally, meaning that instead of having to jog right up to the console to hit top numbers, you reach forward the same amount whether you’re pressing 2 MPH or 10 MPH. You don’t have to work harder to work out harder.

505 Console for Treadmill

Ergonomic

That smart simplicity carried over into its smooth ergonomics, which made reaching controls and handrails easy. Then we jumped on and hit Start, and found that a ton of those cool design features led directly to a better workout. Despite its exceptionally low price tag (about as little as you can pay for a good treadmill), this machine offered an impressively sturdy ride without any jarring feedback, even when we stepped up our walking pace into a jog. The molded arms curve organically down from the console, providing a greater sense of security than other models we tested, and textured foot rails made us feel secure even when stepping off a fast-moving belt. Don’t be fooled by its price — the 505 CST is sturdy. We couldn’t get the machine to shake even when we gripped the arms and tugged. We were relieved to not have to look at a shaking console for the entirety of our workout, and could instead focus on pushing ourselves up inclines at a steady clip.

505 CST for Treadmill

Points to consider

Learning curve

Adopting app icon design is not unique to ProForm; similar iterations appear on the Horizon T101. We liked ProForm’s take because it doesn’t double up on symbols and words. The images do what they’re supposed to — simplify meaning. But that could be an obstacle for users who aren't as familiar with typical treadmill buttons. They also take a little practice to hit in the right spot to get a response, due to their flat dimensions.

Most Comfortable Walk
Horizon T101
Horizon
A couple of smart features made this machine stand out, but it didn’t score high for overall usability.
Pros
Traditional controls
Comfortable design
features
Smooth start
Cons
Usability ticks

Why we chose it

Comfortable design features

Horizon T101 excelled in a few key areas. It features a shorter, flatter motor cover, which gave us more room to stretch out our legs in the front. That extra space results in a slightly more comfortable walk, which can pay dividends if you have long strides, long legs, or just prefer keeping close to the console. And it comes with a fan. Sure, it’s a small fan, but it does the trick, and the other treadmills in this price range skimped on fans entirely.

Traditional controls

If you prefer a classic console, you'll appreciate the clarity of the Horizon T101's controls. The Horizon’s console definitely isn’t as sleek as the ProForm’s, but some may find it more user-friendly. We found the Horizon’s buttons were explicitly labeled and their functions responded more quickly. The buttons are conveniently laid out in reach of the user and only need a single poke to take effect — no frantic mid-stride jabbing to adjust speed. We sometimes had to press the ProForm's keys twice to accomplish an action.

T101 for Treadmill

Smooth start

Another thing we liked about the Horizon was the gentle start to our workouts. Most of the treadmills we tested started at a minimum speed of 1 MPH, which might not sound like much, but it’s a surprising jolt forward, even when you’re expecting it. The Horizon T101 earned points for starting at 0.5 MPH and giving us a more gradual entry into our walks.

T101 for Treadmill

Points to consider

Usability ticks

Our runner-up bore a lot of similarities to the ProForm, including a smooth-running belt and a substantial frame, but comes at a slightly higher cost - another 50 bucks. For that surcharge, we weren’t too pleased with the handful of usability bugs we had a hard time getting past — like a weirdly high-pitched default volume setting and a tendency to stop the belt if you tried to change programs mid-workout. The belt was also noticeably thin compared to the ProForm’s, which led to a less cushioned walk. But if the ProForm looks a little too Space Age for you, the Horizon T101 offers a more obvious console and a solid walking experience.

How to Find the Right Treadmill for Home Use

Reflect on your exercise style

How you exercise tells you a lot about what kind of treadmill you should buy.

  • Running places high impact on the machine, so runners need to seek out power and stability as top priorities.
  • Walking strains the machine considerably less, so mid-range stats (and prices) are more than enough to meet the demand.

Shop for your style

If your primary form of exercise is walking, you can get all the power and programming you need out of a treadmill without shelling out several thousand dollars. While those more expensive models offer greater size and motor power, those things aren’t necessary for a great walking treadmill. In fact, less power means less expense, smaller dimensions, and better storability.

Decide on your tech needs

If you like to zone out to music or a favorite TV show while you walk, then advanced programming within the treadmill itself won’t be as important to you. However, if you find your best workouts happen when you can play with different workout settings, then it might be worth it to pay for a treadmill with more robust tech capabilities.

Treadmill Walking FAQ

Is it easier walking on a treadmill than walking outside?

In a word, yes. But just because you omit wind resistance and level changes when you walk indoors doesn’t mean you can’t recreate them with your treadmill. Take advantage of the incline function in order to work out with more of the resistance you find in an outdoor environment.

Is running a lot better for you than walking?

It’s true that running challenges your muscles and heart in a way that mid-paced walking can’t, but there are a couple ways to look at that fact. If you hate running but enjoy walking, walking is “better for you” because you are more likely to keep doing it over time. A run is only good for you if you go on the run. Plus, it’s well-known that running bangs up your knees and joints mercilessly. You may keep mobile longer by opting for the gentler exercise. It’s a tortoise and the hare scenario.

The Best Treadmills for Walking: Summed Up

ProForm 505 CST
Horizon T101
Best High-Tech Treadmill
Most Comfortable Walk
MSRP
$999
$999
Continuous Horsepower
2.5 CHP
2.25 CHP
Max speed
10 mph
10 mph
Max incline
10%
10%
Max weight
325 lbs.
300 lbs.

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