Can you really use a treadmill for a low impact workout?
Short answer: Yes!
“Treadmill walking is considered a low-impact form of exercise,” Lauren George, certified personal trainer and studio owner, told CBS Essentials. “Running, by nature, is a high-impact workout; however, choosing a treadmill with a cushioned belt and built-in shock absorption technology can reduce the impact and wear and tear on your joints.”
So yes, the right treadmills offer great joint-friendly workouts.
Interested in buying one of these treadmills? Then read on for the best low-impact treadmills for a joint-friendly workout. Plus, get expert advice on how to make your treadmill workouts low-impact.
Low-impact treadmill 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
Bowflex treadmills are worth the splurge because of their impressively cushioned belts.
“If you’re looking for a treadmill that can help you take your running to the next level, the Bowflex line of treadmills with their sturdy design and excellent technical deck is a great fit,” says George. “Long, cushioned belts are ideal for heavy mileage.”
Bowflex treadmills boast motorized incline ranges from -5% to 20% for your cardio sessions, Comfort Tech deck cushioning, SoftDrop folding system and Bluetooth capability. They also come with a one-year JRNY membership ($149 value), which gives you access to the JRNY app, which features a wide range of fitness classes taught by world-class instructors.
“One feature that Bowflex JRNY offers above and beyond other workout platforms is that it adapts as you progress,” says George. “The app suggests different workouts as your fitness improves.”
Bowflex Treadmill 10, $1,999
Bowflex Treadmill 22, $2,699
Easiest to store: WalkingPad C2 Mini Foldable Walking Treadmill
Just in case it’s not entirely clear: walking is a fantastic, low-impact exercise. This mini treadmill is also the perfect size to slide under a standing desk if you just want to walk. When it’s not in use, this fitness machine can be folded almost in half for easy storage, so it’s the best treadmill for a small space. Choose from five colors.
“If your goal is to increase your daily step count without compromising your home decor, the compact walkingpad is a great option!” George said. “You can fit it under a standing desk to collect more steps while answering emails, or go for a walk while watching TV. The belt is designed for maximum cushioning and comfort.”
WalkingPad C2 Mini Foldable Walking Treadmill, $450 (down from $600) with code WPSPRINGFIT
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 while you work out. And if you’re worried about joint pain, there’s even better news: This gym equipment has a shock-absorbing system that protects your knees and ankles.
Even better: it only takes 15 minutes to assemble.
Runo Folding Treadmill, $480 (reduced from $700)
Above-average weight capacity: Sunny Health and Fitness T7643 Walking Treadmill
Speaking of walking for a low-impact workout, the T7643 Walking Treadmill from 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 average weight capacity of over 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 of up to 6 mph. The built-in digital monitor displays your calories burned, speed and distance covered while working out. This piece of deck of home gym equipment 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 and Fitness Electric Treadmill
If a bunch of fancy technology 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 there’s no confusing smart tech beyond that. Also find nine workout programs and three levels of adjustable incline. You can fold this treadmill and put it away after use. Even better: It promises extra shock absorption for a joint-friendly workout.
Sunny Health & Fitness Electric Treadmill, $343
Best for recovery: Exerpeutic TF2000 Recovery Fitness Treadmill
If you’re in recovery mode, check out this particular treadmill. It has handrails along the belt for balance. The handrails are padded for comfort, and this walking treadmill has an LCD display that shows time, speed, distance, calories burned, and pulse. It has a 300-pound weight capacity and its belt is shock-absorbing, which is good 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 the treadmill you choose will effectively absorb the shock of your run should be a primary concern,” certified personal trainer, certified nutritionist 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 inch thick.
“Also, some treadmills use cushioning material such as foam, gel or air pockets that can absorb some of the downward force created during running.”
And what’s a low-impact workout you can try on your new treadmill?
“For an excellent low-impact tread workout, incorporate hiking intervals,” says Lohr. “Use the tread’s tilt feature to adjust the slope of the deck. It’s amazing how difficult a brisk walk can be when you’re on a steep slope!
How We Picked These Treadmills
When choosing the best low-impact treadmill, we considered:
Authentic Customer Reviews: We’ve combed through verified customer reviews to ensure that genuine buyers are consistently satisfied with these brands and products. Expert Recommendations: We spoke with certified personal trainer and studio owner Lauren George and certified personal trainer, certified nutritionist and “American Ninja Warrior” contestant Julie Lohr about low-impact treadmill and joint-friendly workouts. Star rating: All of these products have a four-star rating or higher.Your unique needs: We choose 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