Thinking about buying a treadmill but afraid it might become a clothes hanger? A recent poll of Consumer Reports readers found that a majority of treadmill owners said they actually used them as much as—if not more than—they planned.
Spending more on a treadmill usually buys you more horsepower, sturdier construction, better hardware, a longer deck, and a longer warranty. The top-rated nonfolding Precor 9.31, a well-constructed model that earned high marks in every category in our lab tests, is among the most expensive, at $3,300. But you can get a decent machine that provides a good workout (Ratings available to subscribers) for a third of that price. We tested dozens of treadmills and found many to recommend.
Our poll of the 1,433 Consumer Reports online subscribers who said they owned at least one exercise machine found that just about half of them had a treadmill, and half of those cost $1,000 or less. ProForm was the most common brand of treadmill people owned (21 percent of the machines purchased new), followed by NordicTrack (15 percent).
Most of the treadmills were being used as much as their owners initially expected (59 percent) or even more (11 percent). Just 30 percent were used much less than expected. And the exercise experience seems to be a family affair: 83 percent of treadmills and 74 percent of exercise machines overall were used by two or more people.
Other pluses of having a machine right in your home, according to our readers: Exercise can be done at convenient times (69 percent) or in less time (43 percent), it encourages you to stick with your program (40 percent), and you can work out while doing other things (34 percent).
And the machines were put to good use. Four out of 10 treadmills were used by our respondents for at least three hours a week in the past month. Three hours a week on a treadmill at the pace of a brisk walk easily meets the minimum 2½ hours of moderate physical activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services for healthy adults.
Only 8 percent of the treadmills purchased since 2007 have required a repair. Owners of about three out of four treadmills said they were highly satisfied with their machines, and the same proportion said they would buy one again, with 46 percent saying they would stick with the same exact model.