Portable treadmills are popular with people who frequently move or like to travel with their workout equipment. They’re also good for those who have limited workout space. Portable treadmills tend to be very basic machines. It’s often necessary to sacrifice some features in order to take advantage of such a small and lightweight machine.
- Portability: Portable treadmills are so slim they can easily be stored under a bed or in the back seat of a car. For instance, Horizon’s Evolve treadmill is just 10-inches thick and 59-inches long when folded. Portable treadmills may also come with retractable wheels.
- Price: Portable treadmills are among the least expensive treadmills available.
- Weak motors: At about 1.5 horsepower, the motors installed in portable treadmills are less powerful than those of traditional treadmills. This means that they’re less useful for runners, frequent users, and heavier individuals.
- Tracks: Portable treadmills have relatively short track lengths and less cushioning than full-size models, so users might notice more stress on their bodies.
- Instability: Portable treadmills are generally shakier than non-portable treadmills.
- Overall features: Portable treadmills have significantly fewer features than traditional treadmills. For instance, they usually lack a second motor to control the incline, so users need to manually adjust the track for tilted walking. (The LifeSpan Fitness TR200 Fold-N-Stor Compact Treadmill is an exception and has built-in incline training programs.) Portable models also tend to have fewer and less complex workout programs. The Merit 715T, for instance, only comes with two workout programs.
What to Look for in a Portable Treadmill
The primary appeal of a portable treadmill is portability. Ergo, you want to make sure it doesn’t take up a lot of space and is easy to fold. Before you buy, it’s a good idea to use a tape measure to make sure the space you plan to use your treadmill is large enough. Also look for products that feature hydraulics, especially if you have physical limitations like back or knee issues.
Don’t Forget Headspace
Remember, you’ll be standing on the treadmill, so you have to consider more than just the footprint. Make sure you’ll have enough headspace. For example, if you’ll be using it in a room with a sloped ceiling, this has to be considered.
Portable treadmills often come at the cost of compromised stability. It often boils down to cost. You get what you pay for, and, if you’re considering a portable treadmill that’s significantly cheaper than comparable products, it’s probably going to have a less rigid frame. As a rule of thumb, the further you get below $1.000, the more flimsy you can expect the product to be.
Treadmills are heavy, and many portable options require you to tilt them back onto two wheels. If you lack upper body strength, this can be challenging, especially if you don’t have anyone around to help. If this describes you, look for models that have four recessed wheels. This eliminates the need to hoist a heavy frame at angles that are difficult to manage.
Portable treadmills often feature lower weight capacities. If you carry a lot of weight, it can get tricky to find a portable treadmill that’ll stand the test of time. A general principle to find a portable treadmill capable of handling your weight is to locate the listed weight, and subtract around 50 pounds.
You can’t expect a lifetime warranty on a portable treadmill. However, they should still provide reasonable protection. If they only offer 90 days, explore other options. A quality portable treadmill should offer at least:
- One to two years for parts and service
- Five years for the motor
Who Should Purchase a Portable Treadmill?
Portable treadmills aren’t for everyone due to their durability compromises, weaker motors, and overall lack of features. However, for some shoppers, a foldable treadmill can provide the perfect solution. A portable treadmill might be for you if:
- You have limited space and need to store your treadmill after each use.
- You’re on a limited budget.
- You don’t carry a lot of weight.
- You don’t typically run very fast on your treadmill.
Portable treadmills are inexpensive and are convenient for people who frequently move to new workout spaces. However, they should probably only be purchased by people who don’t have other options. Portable models tend to be shaky and are best suited to smaller users. Also, most treadmill users find that exercise is much more enjoyable when the machine has extra features. These machines should really only be used when absolutely necessary. There are vastly superior treadmills available for users who have the space to dedicate to a more permanent option.
Can you run on a folding treadmill?
Depending on the quality, running at higher speeds or for long distances can pose durability concerns. The key is to find a product that features a high enough weight capacity with at least 3.0 horsepower and a good warranty. If you plan to use your treadmill for aggressive running, it is often worth the investment on a product capable of meeting increased demands.
How do you move a portable treadmill?
All portable treadmills will come with detailed instructions. Typically, however, you will unplug the safety key and hoist the treadmill up on its wheels to move.
Are folding treadmills sturdy?
It depends on how much you’re willing to spend. Cheaper products are typically flimsier, have shorter durability expectations, and aren’t capable of meeting the demands of fast and/or long runs. However, when you’re willing to invest more, it is possible to find a sturdy portable treadmill.
Do folding treadmills have wheels?
Yes, folding treadmills feature wheels for ease in portability.