Walking Your Way to Fitness: A Guide to Choosing and Using Walking Treadmills

Walking delivers powerful cardiovascular, muscular, and mental health benefits with low-impact on your joints. But unpredictable weather or unsuitable walking terrain can make it tough to fit in your daily steps. That’s where a reliable walking treadmill helps you achieve fitness goals at home regardless of conditions outdoors!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover how to select the ideal walking treadmill for your space and needs. Learn about critical features, understand key specifications, compare top-rated models, and get tips for proper usage and maintenance.

Let’s dive into the world of walking treadmills!

Why Choose a Treadmill for Walking?

What makes treadmills an excellent choice for walking workouts?

Lower-impact than pavement. Treadmill belts absorb some of the impact of each step, reducing strain on joints compared to concrete sidewalks. This makes it a better option for those with existing joint issues.

All-weather accessibility. Rain, cold, snow, or heatwaves won’t impede your ability to walk with an indoor treadmill at your disposal 24/7. No need to wait for ideal conditions.

Precise tracking. Treadmill consoles display key metrics like steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, pace, heart rate, and more. This helps you monitor intensity and progress precisely.

Incline options. Many treadmills allow you to adjust incline up to 15% to intensify your workout by simulating walking uphill. This targets different muscles.

Space saving. Foldable treadmill bases with vertical storage take up minimal floor real estate. Easily stow out of the way after sessions.

For low-impact training with robust tracking, treadmills are ideal walking partners. Now let’s review what to look for when choosing a treadmill designed for walking.

Key Factors to Consider in a Walking Treadmill

With a wide range of treadmill models and features available, keep these factors in mind when selecting one tailored for walking:

  • Motor power – Look for at least 2.0 CHP (continuous horsepower) for strolling up to 4 MPH. 2.5 CHP accommodates power walking near 5-6 MPH.
  • Belt/deck size – Look for at least a 20” wide belt for comfort. Length should fit your natural stride at a brisk 4 MPH pace.
  • Cushioning – Proper shock absorption is important for joint comfort during extended walks.
  • Speed range – Up to at least 5-6 MPH covers a power walking pace. If you want light jogging, look for 10 MPH top speeds.
  • Incline range – Adjustable inclines 5%+ make walks more challenging by simulating hills.
  • Weight capacity – Sturdy frames support users weighing up to 350+ lbs depending on model.
  • Display console – Intuitive controls and clear readouts for pacing and metrics are key.
  • Heart rate monitors – Handgrips or wireless chest straps allow heart rate training.
  • Foldability – Vertical storage ideal for small spaces if the treadmill folds up when not used.
  • Warranty – Look for at least 10 years coverage for the motor and 1+ year on parts.

Next, let’s overview some top walking treadmill models that offer the above features to meet your needs.

Best Walking Treadmills of 2022

ProForm 505 CST Treadmill

This ProForm model combines essential walking features at an affordable price point.

Details:

  • Motor: 2.5 CHP
  • Running Surface: 20” x 55”
  • Speed Range: 0-10 MPH
  • Incline Range: 0-10%
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

We like the straight-forward design and features ideal for walking. The 2.5 CHP motor supports speeds up to a steady 4-5 MPH walk or 6 MPH power walk if desired. The 20” wide belt gives ample personal space.

Ten levels of power incline allow you to intensify sessions. Dual handlebars provide stability, speed, and incline controls at your fingertips.

Pros

  • Sturdy 2.5 CHP motor
  • Roomier 20” wide belt
  • 10 levels of smooth power incline
  • Intuitive console controls
  • SpaceSaver folding design

Cons

  • Limited pre-programmed workouts
  • Display lacks high-end features

Price Range: $$

NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

NordicTrack’s Commercial 1750 model delivers an extra wide belt and advanced interactive training powered by a huge motor.

Details:

  • Motor: 3.8 CHP
  • Running Surface: 22” x 60”
  • Speed Range: 0-12 MPH
  • Incline Range: -6% to 15%
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

This top-of-the-line treadmill provides ample training versatility. But for walking, the extra wide 22” belt and flexible speed range up to 4-5 MPH gives you plenty of customization.

The Commercial 1750 folds away neatly when not in use. A 10″ color touchscreen provides interactive personalized training powered by the 3.8 CHP motor.

Pros

  • Most powerful motor available
  • Massive 22” wide tread belt
  • Steepest -6% decline range
  • Advanced interactive training
  • Easy folding with Shock Absorption

Cons

  • Overkill for just walking
  • High price tag

Price Range: $$$$

XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill

This budget XTERRA model combines quality components with value pricing.

Details:

  • Motor: 2.25 HP
  • Running Surface: 16” x 50”
  • Speed Range: 0.5-10 MPH
  • Incline Range: 0-10%
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs

While less powered than pricier units, the 2.25 HP motor supplies capacity for walking up to 4-5 MPH or light jogging near 10 MPH if desired. The LCD tracks your time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse.

The deck adjusts manually from 0-10% grades to intensify your workout. And it conveniently folds with SoftDrop hydraulics into a space-saving vertical footprint.

Pros

  • Wallet-friendly price point
  • Smooth and reliable 2.25 HP motor
  • Manual incline up to 10%
  • SpaceSaver folding
  • Integrated tablet holder

Cons

  • Narrow 16” belt
  • Lower 250 lb capacity

Price Range: $

Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Treadmill

Sunny’s manual pick focuses on the basics with smooth belt operation and under $300 price tag.

Details:

  • Motor: None – manual operation
  • Running Surface: 49” x 16”
  • Speed Range: Self-powered
  • Incline Range: 2 positions
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs

This uncomplicated manual treadmill removes the cost of a motor while still allowing you to walk at your own pace. The ample length accommodates most natural strides while walking. Incline adjusts between two positions.

Integrated transport wheels make it easy to move this lightweight unit. Tablet and cup holders provide convenience. Assembly is required.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable under $300
  • Smooth-rolling self-powered belt
  • Compact and portable
  • Easy assembly out of the box
  • 2 position manual incline

Cons

  • Motorless operation
  • Narrow 16” belt

Price Range: $

Comparing the Top Walking Treadmill Options

To summarize the key similarities and differences:

  • The ProForm 505 CST offers robust walking performance with power incline at an approachable price point.
  • The commercial-grade NordicTrack 1750 excels for serious training given its monster motor and advanced interactive features, albeit overkill for just walking.
  • The budget XTERRA TR150 folds conveniently and provides the essentials like speed and manual incline controls for under $500.
  • The manual Sunny Health & Fitness removes the motor to provide affordable low-tech operation.

Consider your budget, walking speed needs, intensity preferences via power vs. manual operation, and available space. This helps narrow down the ideal treadmill model for your goals.

Setting Up Your Walking Treadmill

Once your new walking treadmill is delivered, allow ample space for assembly. While most folding treadmills take 30-90 minutes to put together, be sure to follow all steps:

  • Carefully follow the owner’s manual directions in sequence using provided tools. Skipping steps can lead to problems.
  • Unfold the treadmill slowly if it’s a folding model. Watch for pinch points and don’t force mechanisms. Make sure the lock clicks secure.
  • Place the treadmill on a level floor free of debris. Check for level using a bubble level tool on the running deck.
  • Plug the power cord into a grounded outlet on a dedicated circuit able to handle the amperage. Don’t use extension cords.
  • Always attach the safety clip securely to your clothing when using the treadmill to stop the belt if you fall or trip.
  • Begin walking at lowest speeds to find your natural pace. Hold onto handlebars until you build confidence.

Gradually get accustomed to the belt motion and your control over speed and incline settings. Review all console functions and programs available on your new model.

Using Proper Form on Your Walking Treadmill

Focus on maintaining good posture and positioning while walking on your new treadmill:

  • Look straight ahead, keeping your head level – refrain from looking down at your feet or console.
  • Keep back straight and abdominal muscles engaged – avoid leaning forward or backward.
  • Maintain natural arm swing back and forth without crossing over body or gripping rails tightly.
  • Land with a heel-first gait, rolling smoothly through the step and pushing off with your toes.
  • Walk at a natural cadence without over-striding or forcing an exaggerated stride length.
  • On inclines, lean slightly forward without bending at the waist and drive arms more assertively.

Proper form comes with practice. Concentrate on posture and comfortable pacing. Hold rails lightly just for balance as needed.

Getting the Most Out of Your Walking Workouts

Here are some tips to help maximize your walking treadmill’s benefits:

  • Gradually build up duration from 20-minute sessions toward 30-60+ minute walks for full cardiovascular and endurance gains.
  • Incorporate interval training by adding short 1-2 minute higher intensity bursts between moderate paced walking.
  • Mix up speeds to alternate between leisurely strolling and brisk power walking.
  • Adjust incline levels each workout to target different muscle groups – start with just 2-3% grades.
  • Try holding hand weights or wear a weighted vest to increase calorie burn during walks.
  • Break up prolonged sitting periods by getting in short 10-15 minute treadmill walks throughout your day.
  • Monitor heart rate using grip sensors or wireless chest straps to target fat burning and cardio zones.
  • Follow a consistent 4-5 day per week walking schedule for optimal fitness benefits over time.

Maintenance Best Practices for Walking Treadmills

With proper preventative maintenance, expect your walking treadmill to deliver many years of enjoyable and reliable daily use:

  • Wipe down the belt, deck, and handlebars after each use to prevent slippery buildup of dirt and oils.
  • Check under the machine regularly and vacuum out debris near the motor or electronics to prevent overheating.
  • Lubricate the belt every 2-3 months using treadmill lubricant to maintain smooth glide.
  • Visually inspect the levelness of the deck and belt tracking while in use. Adjust as needed if the belt drifts or slips.
  • Check hardware like screws, bolts, and fasteners every few months for needed tightening to prevent looseness over time.
  • Consult the owner’s manual and follow the recommended professional service schedule for belt tensioning, calibration, and maintenance checks.

With preventative care and upkeep, your walking treadmill can handle daily cardio workouts and provide many years of health benefits.

Answers to Frequently Asked Walking Treadmill Questions

How difficult is it to assemble a folding treadmill at home?

Expect 30-90 minutes for assembly using the included tools and directions. Carefully follow each step in order. You may want an extra set of hands.

Where should I place the treadmill in my home?

Allow 2-3 feet clearance around deck for emergency dismounts. Place on a hard, level surface – avoid plush carpet. Don’t position under overhead shelving.

What treadmill speed is best to start with as a beginner?

Beginner walkers should start around 2-3 MPH to get accustomed to the belt motion. Gradually increase toward 3.5-4 MPH over several workouts as fitness improves.

Why does my belt sometimes hesitate or stop unexpectedly?

This is usually the safety clip doing its job and stopping the belt if you step too far back. Make sure to attach it securely to clothing when using the treadmill.

How often should I lubricate the walking belt?

Plan to lubricate the belt every 2-3 months or 50 hours of use minimum. Check the owner’s manual for specifications. Use only treadmill lubricant, not household oils.

Can I fold my treadmill after each use?

Yes, though frequent folding can stress parts over time. Gently release the lock lever. Periodically check bolts if folding daily. Leave unfolded when possible.

How do I know if it’s time to replace the walking belt?

Signs include uneven wear, cracking, exposed seams, damage, or excess slipping indicating loss of traction. Expect to replace belts every 2-3 years with regular use.

Start Walking Your Way to Better Health

We hope this guide has provided all the details needed to find the perfect walking treadmill to start reaping the many physical and mental benefits of daily cardio activity. Maintaining proper form, using it consistently, and performing basic preventative care will ensure your new treadmill provides many miles of reliable service. Here’s to achieving better fitness and health one step at a time! Let us know if you have any other treadmill questions.