We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
Published Sep 5, 2023 1:00 PM
If you want to exercise at home but don’t want to turn your living room into a home gym, a compact treadmill could be the answer. Often smaller than traditional treadmills and available in under-desk and foldable options, they won’t dominate your space. You can find options that suit your fitness goals, whether you’re looking to get your steps in while on a work call or when training for a marathon. Here are some tips and picks to help you find one of the best compact treadmills for your needs.
How we chose the best compact treadmills
In choosing the best compact treadmills, we considered the options from top makers of home fitness equipment, including NordicTrack, Echelon, Sunny Health & Fitness, and more. We also tested LifeSpan Fitness’s TR-1000 Glowup Under Desk Walking Pad Treadmill. In addition, we considered features, connectivity, portability, ease of use, user reviews, and price when making our recommendations.
The best compact treadmills: Reviews & Recommendations
With a treadmill, getting a workout in from the comfort of your home (including your home office) is easy. And with a compact treadmill, you don’t have to sacrifice as much space to stay fit. Whether you’re looking for a full-service fitness machine or a walking pad that will keep you moving during the workday, we’ve rounded up various options to suit your needs.
Best overall: NordicTrack Commercial Series 2450
- Weight: 339 pounds
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Belt length: 60 inches
- Max speed: 12 mph
- Features a 14-inch interactive HD touchscreen
- Streams iFIT workouts on demand led by instructors from around the globe
- Provides inclines of up to 15 percent
- Designed with technology to help users fold it up easily
- Larger footprint than other compact models
NordicTrack’s Commercial 2450 Treadmill provides the premium training experience of its other models, with the ability to fold up the machine and stow it away more easily. This model is designed with a powerful 4-horsepower motor and features a 14-inch interactive HD touchscreen for on-demand training (also a feature we love about the NordicTrack rower). The free 30-day iFIT membership allows users to connect the treadmill to a WiFi router and livestream workouts from around the world and get personalized feedback on your form. What’s more, this treadmill is designed to accommodate hard-core training, with a maximum speed of 12 mph and an incline of up to 10 percent. When you’re done getting your miles in, this treadmill is designed with technology that allows you to fold it up and set it up against a wall. That said, at 339 pounds, this model is heavy for a compact, and lifting it might be a two-person job.
Best under-desk: LifeSpan Fitness TR-1000 Glowup Under Desk Walking Pad Treadmill
- Weight: 117 pounds
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Belt length: 58 inches
- Max speed: 4 mph
- Easy to assemble
- Designed with casters for portability
- Long belt for a compact model
- Somewhat heavy
- May be too wide for small standing desks
Looking to get your steps in during Zoom meetings? A compact treadmill like LifeSpan’s Fitness TR-1000 Glowup Under Desk Walking Pad Treadmill is a solid choice. This model is heavier than some compact models but is easy to assemble right out of the box. Designed with casters, you can easily slide it under a standing desk that can accommodate its 28-inch width. LifeSpan also sells a compatible standing desk. The 2-horsepower motor is quiet and allows you to walk up to 4 mph. And you can place the accompanying attachable console on your desk to track your time, distance, speed, and calories burned.
Best for running: Echelon Fitness Stride Auto-Fold Smart Treadmill
- Weight: 156 pounds
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Belt length: 55 inches
- Max speed: 12 mph
- Provides access to more than 40 live classes daily and thousands more on-demand with iFIT membership
- Features two 2-watt speakers
- Designed with automatic folding feature
- Need tablet to access classes and other media
- Motor is less powerful than other options
If what it takes to get you through a tough run is lots of multimedia inspiration, the Echelon Fitness Stride Auto-Fold Smart Treadmill could be your best option. With the Echelon membership associated with this treadmill (free for the first 30 days), you’ll have access to 40 live workouts per day and thousands of on-demand workouts led by trainers around the world. And its maximum speed of 12 mph and incline of 10 percent allow for challenging workouts for most runners. This treadmill also syncs with Strava, Apple Health, Fitbit, and Spotify, and features two 2-watt speakers to play your favorite tune (or grab one of our favorite headphones for running if you need to up the pace without upping the volume).
The desk also folds automatically and can be leaned up against a wall to save space. That said, it is important to note that this model does not include a touchscreen or tablet, but it’s designed with a tablet holder to let you stream classes and other media.
Best for walking: Sunny Health & Fitness Slim Walking Pad Treadmill
- Weight: 55 pounds
- Weight capacity: 220 pounds
- Belt length: 39 inches
- Max speed: 3.75 mph
- Lightweight compared to other models
- Very compact
- Belt length is significantly shorter
- Won’t work for larger users
For an affordable option that won’t take up much space, consider the Sunny Health & Fitness Slim Walking Pad Treadmill for Under Desk. At 55 pounds, this model is significantly lighter than other compact treadmills. This compact treadmill also features a digital monitor that tracks your speed, time, steps, distance, and calories burned, though it can only go up to 3.75 mph.
It’s important to note that this model is designed to support smaller users, as its belt of 39 inches is more than 10 inches shorter than some premium models, and it can only support a weight capacity of up to 220 pounds. (The company recommends you use it with a desk or table.) That said, if you’re not looking to spend a lot and have a smaller frame, this option will keep you moving, has a small footprint, and is easy to stow away under a couch or bed.
Best folding: Goplus 2-in-1 Under Desk Treadmill
- Weight: 73 pounds
- Weight capacity: 265 pounds
- Belt length: 39 inches
- Max speed: 7.5 mph
- Small footprint
- Allows users to switch between walking and running
- Designed with smart features like app and Bluetooth speaker
- Easy to store
- Maximum speed is low for serious runners
- May not accommodate larger people
People looking for a compact treadmill that allows them to switch between walking and running will appreciate the Goplus 2-in-1 Under Desk Treadmill. Weighing 73 pounds and with a belt 39 inches long, this folding treadmill is smaller than other compact treadmills. That said, its maximum speed of 7 mph allows users to switch between running and walking. The GoPlus also features an LED screen to help you track your progress, works with an app, and includes a Bluetooth-compatible speaker. And its small footprint allows it to fit under desks easily and makes it easy to fold the deck up and store.
Best budget: BiFanuo 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Weight capacity: 260 pounds
- Belt length: 42 inches
- Max speed: 7.5 mph
- Comes assembled
- Allows users to walk and run
- No smart features
- Designed for smaller users
Not interested in shelling out for thousands of workouts and smart features? The BiFanuo 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill will still let you get a good workout in at a fraction of the price. This budget-friendly model is assembled out of the box. It allows users to go from .5 mph to 7.5 mph, letting you switch off from walking to running. The 42-inch-long belt is slightly longer than some of the competition, and this model is available in versions with or without a handrail. The LED screen on the console tracks the basics of time, speed, distance, and calories burned. For the price, this model provides good value.
Things to consider when buying the best compact treadmill
Are you looking for a premium treadmill with a touchscreen that will provide access to thousands of classes? Or are you looking for a foldable model that can easily slip into a closet or under the bed? If you’re planning to use it in your home office, you want to look for an under-desk treadmill that is either designed with a compatible desk or one that will fit under a standing desk you already own.
Compact treadmills span the gamut, from low-frills models that are just walking treads to full-size models that come with fitness memberships, have adjustable inclines, and let you run up to 12 mph. Other options are designed to easily fit under a desk to allow you to walk during the workday. With other models, you can choose add-ons that allow you to give your arms a workout as well as your lower body.
How powerful your compact treadmill will be will depend upon its motor. Models designed for running that allow you to run up to 12 mph with an incline of 10 percent, such as the NordicTrack Commercial Series 2450, feature a 4-horsepower motor. Other compact treadmills are less powerful, with 2-horsepower motors. What type is best for you depends on the features you want in a compact treadmill, what you plan to use it for, and how much you want to spend.
The beauty of compact treadmills is that they’re designed to be folded up or not take up a lot of space. That said, some models are still quite large, and while they may have casters, some are still more than 100 pounds and not necessarily easy for one person to lift. Other models easily fold up and are relatively lightweight but also designed with more basic features.
A smaller belt length is part of what makes a compact treadmill take up less space. That said, while a small belt (less than 40 inches) might not be an issue when you’re walking slowly, it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re taller or looking to run on your compact treadmill, it’s a good idea to look for a model with a longer belt to accommodate longer strides while running.
Q: Can you run on compact treadmills?
Yes, you can run on some compact treadmills. Some can reach speeds up to 12 mph. Others are designed specifically for walking and going under desks. And we’ve featured two 2-in-1 models on this list that allow you to walk or run on the same machine. It’s worth keeping the belt length in mind if you plan to run, as taller people should opt for a longer belt to match the stride length if they plan to run on a compact treadmill.
Q: Are folding or non-folding treadmills better?
Whether folding or non-folding treadmills are better depends on your needs. You can opt for a premium model, such as the NordicTrack Commercial Series 2450, which has the same features as many traditional treadmills. And if you don’t have a lot of space, a compact treadmill like the BiFanuo 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill is budget-friendly and is designed for both walking and running.
Final thoughts on the best compact treadmills
Before you invest in another piece of home fitness equipment, it’s worth it to take the time to consider where and how you want to use it, what features you’re looking for, and how much you want to spend. Fortunately, there are plenty of good options available at a range of price points and fitness levels.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.