Best walking treadmills 2022 – Live Science

Best walking treadmills 2022 – Live Science

Taking a stroll on some of the best walking treadmills can boost your aerobic fitness, ramp up calorie burn, improve muscular endurance, and build healthier and stronger bones. In fact, walking just 30 minutes each day can significantly positively impact on your health, and you don’t need to achieve 10,000 steps (opens in new tab) a day to see some improvements, either. 

Carving out some time to hit the great outdoors doesn’t always look likely though, so hopping on a walking treadmill could be your best bet. These lightweight, low-impact, and compact bits of cardio kit are more affordable than the machines features in our round-up of the best treadmills (opens in new tab) and can be rolled neatly under desks or into office corners for a convenient cardio fix – whenever you fancy it.

The walking treadmill market is still underdeveloped, so we highly recommend saving some cash and opting for one of the cheaper ones below to help you achieve your health goals. It’s also worth noting that walking treadmills offer lower maximum speeds and fewer fancy features than regular treadmills, so if you’re looking to hit some running PBs, we recommend spending more and getting a machine with more horsepower. 

Find out what is the best place to wear a fitness tracker (opens in new tab) the next time you exercise, or read on to see the best walking treads available now. 

Best walking treadmills

(Image credit: Sam Hopes)

If you’re looking for a bargain without compromising quality, the Mobvoi home treadmill is a steal. It’s sleek and compact, doesn’t eat up valuable floor space, and allows you to clock up 12km/h of speed. We know this doesn’t exactly scream ‘PB’, but it’s the highest speed of the models we tested (and many others in the same price bracket.)

The Mobvoi came through testing as our top-rated walking treadmill and marries walking pads with traditional treads quite nicely. The foldable design provides easy storage for space-savers, and there’s no need for construction know-how either. The model comes ready-made as an under-desk walking pad, and you can simply flip the side lever to lift the riser bar up, transforming it into a treadmill. 

While we can’t speak for durability from our short testing window, the model does feel surprisingly sturdy with no unsettling jerking or wobbling motions. The riser houses a bright LED dashboard with quick touch controls for speed, an attachable phone holder, and screw-in handlebars. There’s also an additional metric tracking display on the treadmill base that can be controlled via the handy remote. The belt itself felt a little thin underfoot, indicating a lack of cushioning, and it was narrow to stand on which could feel quite suffocating if you’re a bigger user. 

You’re not going to be awestruck by high-tech features, but the Mobvoi does have Bluetooth connectivity and brilliant quality inbuilt speakers. The machine only ranked 65 dB for noise at its highest speed, so you can rest assured that the neighbors won’t be banging down your door anytime soon. 

  • Related: Can walking lower your blood pressure? (opens in new tab)
  • Read our full Mobvoi Home Treadmill review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Future)

Looking to simply up your step count? Then yes, invest in this basic machine. The Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill has a pretty old-fashioned and basic look compared to the Mobvoi Home Treadmill (opens in new tab) and a slightly lower max speed of 8km/h (geared more towards power walking), but it’s one of the more techy models we tested. If you’re keen on cash-saving and low on storage, picking a Bluetooth-enabled tread with a small footprint and access to a fitness app isn’t a bad move. 

Similar to the Mobvoi, a quick flip of the riser bar whips you from a walking pad into treadmill mode, and you can transport the machine with fuss-free ease. The belt is a little narrower than we expected and just long enough to stretch your legs; our tester was 5”2, so bigger or taller users might want to measure out the dimensions first. 

There are some nice touches on the machine. An LED screen located on the base of the machine flashes up metrics that are controlled with a remote that snaps onto your wrist like a watch. The Bluefin is also fitted with six preset workouts that you can select from using the watch, but these only work between interval speeds of 1-8km/h and might not offer enough intensity for some users. Other features include a tablet holder that fits to the top of the riser, inbuilt speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and access to the Kinomap fitness app (downloadable via your smart device) for access to a range of walking challenges and workouts. What you can do with 8km/h of speed, however, is on you. 

If you’re concerned about price, this model might fit the bill. 

  • Read our full Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill (opens in new tab) 

(Image credit: Future)

The Lifespan TR5000-DT7 Omni is the brand’s premium workplace treadmill. It’s an accomplished model, offering a smooth, quiet, and comfortable walking platform with a generously sized belt, zero wobble, and some much-needed upgrades following its predecessors. While we enjoyed our testing period with the machine, we don’t think it’s worth this jaw-dropping price (usually around £2,127/ $2,299.)

Similar to the TR5000’s counterpart – the Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp (opens in new tab) (you can read our review of this model further down) – you get 6.4 km/h of speed and a lightly cushioned belt surface with six shock absorbers. The difference? The TR5000 has upgraded aluminum sides, a 3chp (continuous horsepower) motor, and an antiquated sleek desk-mounted control console to boast of. It’s the most comfortable and stable walking treadmill we’ve tried and can be paired with the Lifespan Electronic Desk (opens in new tab) as part of a package deal, allowing you to control both bits of the kit from the single desk-mounted console. The updated 3” LCD console display is a drastic improvement and can also control the height of the Lifespan Electronic Desk, as well as the treadmill’s speed. 

The model does cost £600/ $600 more than the TR1200 for these privileges though, and an absence of bells and whistles such as app connectivity, preset programs, health stats, and remote control, twinned with its considerable cost, begs the question – is it really worth it? We’re not convinced.

Setting up takes mere minutes. The slim base is delivered pre-assembled, so all that’s left to do is plug in the power cord and attach the control console via a DVI cable. If you opt for the bundle (the package we tested), then the assembly of the desk takes about 45 minutes.

Lifespan needs to find ways to level up this model with its astronomical price tag. If you’re after a solid, stable, and dependable under desk treadmill, you won’t find many better options than the Lifespan TR5000-DT7 Omni, but it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. If you’re spending this much, you might as well buy a fully kitted-out treadmill that will let you both work and run on its tread.

  •  Read our full LifeSpan Treadmill Desk TR5000-DT7 Omni review

(Image credit: Future)

It’s worth noting that the Kingsmith WalkingPad C2 (sometimes called the S1) is solely a walking pad and doesn’t transition into a traditional-looking treadmill like the Mobvoi Home Treadmill (opens in new tab) or Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill (opens in new tab). It’s definitely the sleekest and most stylish looking model of the bunch and boasts an unassuming and modest footprint that makes it perfect for tight office spaces and slick city apartments. If you’re seeking something lightweight and compact to flip open and slip under your office desk, this walking pad definitely does that job. 

In terms of setup, you only have to unfold the machine, snap it into place, and plug it in. On the surface, there’s not much else to this model; there’s a small LED screen located on the front of the belt that displays your live metrics, a handy remote control, and 6km/h of speed available to play with. You also have access to the KS Fit app which allows you to control the tread from your phone, plus Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. 

Our tester is 5”2 and found the belt unnervingly narrow and unstable to walk on without handlebars, which is a red flag for bigger users. We were impressed with the length of the pad though, which wasn’t far off Lifespan’s dimensions, as this allowed us to comfortably open up our stride.

We were pumped to test out this model’s USP – automated user mode. When activated, the machine uses footfall motion sensors located in three parts of the belt to auto-adjust speed to your natural stride. This key feature puts you in control, but unfortunately, we found it unresponsive to our footfall and tricky to master. Unless you’re happy to jump off the machine every five seconds, you might want to stick to manual mode and save your energy.

The Kingsmith is at the pricier end of the range, coming in at just under $600. The ambitious and intuitive automated mode is most likely the reason, but in our opinion, the sensors and KS Fit app need improving to be worth the cash. 

  • Read our full WalkingPad C2 Review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Future)

The Lifespan TR1200 Treadmill is the younger brother of the Lifespan TR5000 Walking Treadmill (opens in new tab) (reviewed above) and the most affordable of the latest batch of Lifespan releases. With its simple setup and slim profile, it does the basics of an under desk treadmill and does them very well. 

The belt moves smoothly and combines six shock absorbers with a quiet 2chp motor to provide a comfortable, judder-free walking surface. With generous dimensions that match its more premium counterpart, the belt felt firm yet cushioned underfoot, and you have 6.4km/h of speed available to play with. But, considering this model costs around £1,299/$999USD, we would expect more. 

In terms of aesthetics, there is nothing exceptional about the Lifespan TR1200. The understated design is functional with a basic and bulky console that looks like it was built in the 90s (you can upgrade this to include the newer console if you’re happy to cough up £100/$100 extra.) The cheaper, plastic finish of the side rails and motor casing doesn’t do justice to the machine’s premium price point, but the overall look is in keeping with the average office environment.

There are no preset programs, apps, or options for remote controls like you get with more affordable models like the Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 or Mobvoi Home Treadmill (opens in new tab), and only basic metrics are offered by way of feedback. A saving grace is the lack of setup required to get this treadmill going. It arrives whole, so you’ll just need to plug in some cables and switch it on. 

If you’re considering buying the LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp, we recommend first thinking about how much you’ll be using the machine. If you’re committed to using it every day, the benefits might stack up to validate the cost. But the model does little to develop the under desk treadmill scene, and it’s hard to understand why this model is so expensive. If you’re a technology lover looking for bells and whistles galore, the Lifespan TR1200 is not for you.

  • Read our full LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp review (opens in new tab)

How we tested

We tested all treadmills in our purpose-built testing center (with the exception of Mobvoi, which was tested out at home). We completed several walking sessions on each machine, testing out their maximum speeds and all available features. After spending a day on each treadmill, we ranked it across the following categories:  

  • Set-up and usability
  • Design and display
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Value for money  

These figures were used to calculate a final score out of five, and decide which machines made our roundup of the best walking treadmills. 

How to choose the best walking treadmill

The walking treadmill and under-desk walking treadmill markets are on the rise, but it’s crucial to do your research and ask yourself what you want from your machine. We recommend not spending too much, but there are several other factors worth your consideration before you dive in:

We didn’t find that money necessarily amounted to quality while testing these walking treadmills. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still find great quality without the high price tag. 

Space and size
You wouldn’t buy a pair of jeans that don’t fit (on purpose, anyway), and the same goes for your fitness equipment. Measure your space (with a margin for error) and check the machine specs before you buy. If you’re tight on space, look for the largest belt dimensions for the smallest overall footprint.

Home-use treadmills aren’t the same as commercial-grade gym machines, so remember to check the max weight capacity. Treadmills with a higher capacity tend to be more sturdy and judder less from heavier footstrikes. If you live in a top-floor apartment with no elevator, it’s also worth checking the treadmill weight, and whether it comes with wheels, so you’re not caught out on delivery day. 

If you’re looking for an under-desk walking treadmill, the speed range won’t matter; but if you want the option to run, make sure you check the max speed. You might also want to consider if you’ll need added features like inbuilt speakers, Bluetooth, a tablet or water bottle (opens in new tab) holder, or fitness app compatibility. Not fussed about frills? You can save some dosh with a basic walking pad. 

Why use an under desk treadmill
Despite our misgivings about the current machines on the market, under desk exercise does have its merits – aside from the well known benefits of exercise (opens in new tab). Not only can this compact cardio equipment inject some light physical activity into your workday, but it’s also affordable, easy to store, and can have a transformational effect on your health, too. According to a year-long study published in PLOS (opens in new tab), treadmill workstations can have a significant and favorable impact on overall physical activity, work performance, and total daily calorie expenditure (by more than 74 calories per day.)

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