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Folding Treadmills

Learn what folding treadmills have to offer.

Modern folding treadmills have features that users can evaluate and customize to suit their needs. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Modern folding treadmills have features that users can evaluate and customize to suit their needs.

Folding treadmills offer numerous health benefits and are one of the best-known physical fitness items. While ConsumerSearch states that many treadmill reviews recommend that those looking for a treadmill for walking should pay at least $1,000 and those seeking one for running should pay at least $2,000, they also point out that many quality treadmills are below this price point.

In their 2009 treadmill review report, the Treadmill Sensei lists several quality folding treadmills below $500, several in the $501 to $799 range and several in the $800 to $1000 range. Treadmill Doctor's annual report features treadmills in similar price ranges. Purchasers concerned with price should consider what features they are willing to sacrifice to lower the cost.

Features of Folding Treadmills

Modern folding treadmills have features that users can evaluate and customize to suit their needs. Some have workout programs that are preprogrammed into the treadmill. Others allow users to create their own workouts and save them for future use. Still others do not have either of these features and require the user to manually adjust settings (such as speed and incline) at the start of each workout. Some treadmills quickly adjust to changes in speed and incline during a workout, while others take more time to react to these changes.

Many treadmills have a built-in pulse monitor. The device monitors the user's heartbeat and is normally built in to the console. Some treadmills provide the physical number of heartbeats per minute while other treadmills only let users know if they are in the prime heartbeat range for cardio activity. Some newer -- and more expensive -- folding treadmills even have television screens and other audio-visual integration to entertain users during workouts.

Folding vs. Stationary Treadmills

The main advantage to a folding treadmill is that the ability to fold the treadmill (rather than requiring it to stand stationary) can be a space-saver. Folding treadmills can also be moved from room to room without exerting much effort. Many even have wheels to make them easier to move. Folding treadmills can be a great introduction to the world of treadmills. However, they often do not feel as steady when in use as stationary treadmills. Depending on the model, users may feel the treadmill shake when they reach higher speeds. This is especially noticeable to speed runners. Some treadmills that fold do not support persons of higher weights. Additionally, some can be loud when the motorized mechanism is running at full force.

Try It Out

When looking into purchasing a folding treadmill, consumers should evaluate their personal needs. If space is not an issue and they do not plan to move the treadmill often, a folding treadmill may not be the best product. Consumers should also physically test and examine a treadmill (if possible) before purchasing it. Each user will use the treadmill differently and what one person finds useful, another may find cumbersome. Testing the treadmill for stability is important. Consumers should make sure that all relevant features are simple to use. They should test the surface of the treadmill to ensure both durability and traction. They should also examine the treadmill's safety features. For example, some treadmills automatically shut off if the user falls.

As of 2009, there were many top-rated folding treadmills on the market. Popular and reliable consumer brands include Sole, Smooth and Bowflex. Sole's F85 model is priced at approximately $2,000 and features intuitive programming controls and can support users up to 400 lbs. The Spirit X line is variably priced and many models have been prominently featured in The Treadmill Doctor reviews.

The Reebok S 9.80 is also lauded by The Treadmill Doctor for its $700 price tag, wide walking area and power. The Pacemaster Gold Elite Foldup VR is one of the best-rated folding treadmills on the market. With nine motivational feedback options (time, speed, distance, calories and pace among them) and two express speed keys, the console on the unit is easy for users to control. The Epic 550 View is another popular model priced at approximately $1,000. Featuring 28 training workouts, a fan and a flat-screen television, the treadmill consolidates many popular features into one popular price.

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