What are the Different Types of Exercise Treadmills?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Exercise treadmills are one of the most commonly used types of cardiovascular workout equipment. Versatile in feature and function, the treadmill can provide all the benefits of a jog or walk while keeping detailed track of progress, calories burned, and distance achieved. There are many different types of exercise treadmill to choose from, running the gamut from inexpensive home versions to luxurious club-level machines.

Exercise pants.
Exercise pants.

For those looking to start a moderate exercise routine, a home treadmill may be a great option. Lower priced models of treadmill typically have a small motor that is geared toward walking rather than running. Many still include helpful features such as exercise programs, calorie counting, and even ports to plug in MP3 players. Some home treadmills also are compactly designed so that they may easily be folded and stored in a closet or other out of the way location.

Read some reviews before you purchase a treadmill.
Read some reviews before you purchase a treadmill.

Higher-priced home exercise treadmills are often comparable to club level machines, with the power and features to handle hard core running and endurance training. In addition to having a heavy duty motor, these versions often have longer belts that make running easier for tall people or those with a long stride. With a larger machine, however, comes less maneuverability; some high-end models of home treadmill weigh hundreds of pounds and take up a lot of space.

Some other features that can be found on exercise treadmills can be extremely helpful to the dedicated exerciser. Families that all plan to use a single treadmill may want to look for one which has profile storing capabilities, which allows each user to create a treadmill profile that tracks their weight, personalized workouts, and fitness goals. Those who resist exercise treadmills because of boredom may find a useful solution in media-linked treadmills, which allow for the installation of televisions and other media equipment to provide entertainment while exercising.

One major new innovation in the exercise treadmill business is a type of machine that combines stair climbing with a traditional treadmill. Instead of one flat track, these machines feature two tracks that alternately raise and lower as the exerciser walks, giving both a stair climbing and walking motion. Most manufacturers recommend using these combo machines for walking only, as it is easy to trip on them while running. For walkers looking for a new challenge, a stair climber-treadmill combination may be a great idea.

Before purchasing a treadmill, it may be a good idea to read some expert reviews on the make and model. There are many websites offering comprehensive reviews on current and past models that can help a savvy buyer find a good, reliable machine. For the budget-minded, consider purchasing a factory refurbished treadmill with a warranty. While used, these models have been restored to factory specifications by the manufacturer and often come with a guarantee of good performance.

Commercial treadmills typically are constructed with welded steel frames.
Commercial treadmills typically are constructed with welded steel frames.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


@Feryll - You make a good point about some treadmill exercise machines being a bit over the top in terms of all of the gadgets they have. However, you should keep in mind that for many people, it is those extra gadgets and features that keep them motivated to exercise.

I get so bored when I am on a regular, basic treadmill. I like seeing all of the numbers that tell me my heart rate, my speed, how many calories I am burning and so on. Without these numbers, I would soon get bored and stop using the treadmill.

So, for some people like myself, all of those extra features are worthwhile even though we have to pay extra for them.


Many of the features that you can get on various exercise equipment and on treadmills are far above what you will ever really need. Seriously, do you need to know absolutely every stat possible about the 20-minute walk or run you just took on the treadmill?

In my opinion, many of these features are added to the machines so the manufacturers can charge more money for the products and in turn make more money for themselves. This is not a criticism of the companies that make the machines. They are in business to make money after all.

However, what you the consumer need to keep in mind when you are looking to buy a piece of exercise equipment is that you shouldn't assume that the more you pay for a piece of equipment the better it will be.

There are so many treadmills to choose from in the stores that I am so confused. When I think I have figured out which one is best for me I come across another one that seems to be even better. I'm not sure I will ever be able settle on one machine and make a choice.

I don't want to pick the wrong machine and then never use it because there is something I don't like about it. Exercise treadmills cost too much money for me to buy one and then have it collecting dust in the corner.

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