Treadmills have come a long way over the course of the last decade. They’re quieter, built from better materials, more connected, and more attractive than they used to be. There are a number of factors to consider, each of which will have an influence on the other. Here’s the list:


It’s good to have a range to work with, but it’s best to start out with an idea of how much you want to spend. Just like any other piece of electronics you may find that the features that you want will adjust that budget range, but this gives you a starting place to jump off of. Personally I tend to set my price range with a willingness of moving up to 50% if there’s a killer feature I really want.

Technology Features

Given that this is Best Buy’s Plug-In Blog, it should be no surprise that technology features heavily into a purchasing decision. There are a number of cool features to consider here:

10406817_2.jpgIntegrated Exercise Programs

This is fairly standard for most treadmills now, but some models have more advanced programs than others. If you’re pursuing a particular type of training, make sure the model you’re interested in has that type of program.

Integrated Screen

A touch screen or video screen can either be used to control the treadmill or for displaying video signals; in some cases you can connect a video source to use it like a TV, or the treadmill may have integrated video running courses that you can watch while you walk or run.

Heart Rate Monitoring

HRMs are a great way to see measurable results for cardio exercises. These can be integrated into the treadmill’s grips or can be a clip on piece that’s separate from the actual unit. They generally won’t be as accurate as a fitness band with HRM or a chest strap, but they’re useful for gauging your performance.


Wired connectivity will generally include USB ports for phones and tablets. A small stand or ledge for those devices is also an awesome feature to have. Sometimes you’ll find wireless connectivity or Bluetooth for pairing with devices, and some treadmills are now starting to include apps or connectivity to online fitness tracking sites.

Ergonomics and Size

There are three main types of treadmills:

10406821.jpgFolding Treadmills

These treadmills are handy for smaller spaces. Given that most treadmills are approximately 77” in length and about 35” wide, you’ll want to think about a folding treadmill if you have a room where that kind of unit won’t live comfortable without being tucked away. You’ll want to ensure that you have at least 2 feet of space on either side of the treadmill as well as about 6 feet of space behind it for clearance. A folding treadmill means you’ll need that space when the device is in use, but will be reduced to about one third of that requirement when it’s folded up.

The FreeMotion 850 is one such choice – it folds down to about half it’s fully extended length, includes iFit wireless tech that ties into Google Maps, and includes 32 pre-loaded workouts for you to get started with. For sound junkies there are two 3” speakers, and the unit includes a built-in CoolAire workout fan to keep you running when things heat up. It can handle up to 350lbs.

The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Folding Treadmill is another such option. It’s a heavy-duty treadmill that includes a 10” full-colour web-enabled touchscreen for navigating through workout stats or for browsing online. It ties in with iFit as well, has 40 built-in workouts, and three integrated fans. An advanced shock absorption system handles runners of up to 300lbs with ease, and it can incline up to 15% for HIIT workouts.

10406817.jpgRigid Body Treadmills

These are the opposite of folding treadmills: they don’t fold and have a sturdier structure as a result. They typically have large running surfaces and more powerful motors, giving you higher maximum speeds and steeper inclines. They can also handle more weight, which can be useful for taller runners.

The NordicTrack X11i Incline Trainer is a rigid body treadmill with lots of extras. Like the Commercial 2950 it features a 10” web-enabled touchscreen, and it too integrates with iFit and Google Maps. The big feature here, however, is how the rigid body can accommodate a running deck that can include up to 40% and down to -6%, helping to simulate real-world running with over 44 built-in workouts. It also houses dual AutoBreeze workout fans to keep you cool.

 Compact Folding Treadmills

These treadmills are typically shorter than regular folding treadmills and may appeal to more budget-minded customers. A shorter treadmill can be great if you don’t have the space, but keep in mind that anything under 60” can be risky to run on. If you’re looking to get your burn on with a walking routine these are a great choice.

10406779.jpgTwo options here include the ProForm Performance 400i Folding Treadmill and the Gold’s Gym Trainer 430. Both feature 55” decks and can incline up to 10%, helping to burn more calories. The Gold’s Gym model includes 16 integrated workouts, while the ProForm features 18, and both can accommodate users of up to 300lbs. iPod compatible audio systems let you plug in and connect to your music, so you can find your beat and hit the ground running.

Like any other purchase it’s up to you to review the information above and think about how you want to use your new treadmill. Want to walk or have a tight space to work with? Get a compact folding model. Need to run but want to tuck your treadmill away when you’re not using it? Choose a standard folding model. Want to really hit things hard? Go with a rigid body and amp up your workout.

Got questions about Treadmills or workouts in general? Hit me in the comments below or online on Twitter @thetechnogram

Graham Williams
Graham Williams is a Canadian tech expert, appearing on CBC and Global BC, as well as teaching a number of courses at UBC in Vancouver, British Columbia. An avid gamer, Graham can be found on Steam and PSN, as well as online as a host of MOMENTOUS.TV


  1. Some additional thoughts after buying my first treadmill….

    • some treadmills have a longer deck.  very handy when you suddenly slow down.
    • is the treadmill in the basement?  Otherwise, think about the people living below you.
    • electrical interferance… I was originally going to watch TV while jogging.  However that plan fell apart when each step sent electrical interferance to TV’s around the house.
    • noise…. may need to turn up the volume in your home entertainment system
    • they make great laundry drying racks when not in use



  2. Great points xl. I did mention the longer deck in there, so it’s great to see that we’re on the same page.


    I’d be concerned about your electrical interference though; you may want to call a qualified electrician as that sounds like you’ve got a problem with your breakers.

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