Investing in one of the best walking treadmills can be a great step to squeeze more exercise into your day and hit your step goal. In our busy modern lives, it can feel impossible to carve out time for cardio, but a walking treadmill can help transform what would be sedentary time spent sat at a desk into multitasking active time with a standing desk/walking treadmill combo.
If like us, you're always trying to close your rings on your fitness app or best fitness tracker, a walking pad can be a fantastic way to get ahead of those annoying activity prompts and keep yourself moving throughout the day.
"Walking on a treadmill is a fantastic way of burning additional energy. If you’re new to the gym or if this is your only way to exercise you can still lose weight effectively. My advice would be to complete 60 minutes of walking on the treadmill daily if this is your only form of exercise. You’ll burn up to 300 calories per day helping you keep your energy burn for the day high." - Nathan Kennedy, qualified personal trainer and representative for sports nutrition specialists Bio-Synergy.
Walking treadmills generally come with a wallet-friendlier price tag than some of the best treadmills and can help you achieve a higher NEAT (the energy you burn from everyday tasks like walking and fidgeting). They can be great tools for weight loss too, as increased NEAT is likely to knock you into a calorie deficit (meaning you are using more energy than you’re consuming). According to a 2021 systematic review published in the journal BMC Public Health, using a treadmill desk “increases energy expenditure and metabolic rate and reduces sitting time”.
At Live Science, we’ve tested some of the best walking treadmills on the market to see which ones are worth your money, and which ones don’t live up to the hype. As a fairly new innovation, we found even the premium models left something to be desired, but they’ll still allow you to feel the benefits of a more active working day. We completed several walking sessions on each machine at our purpose built testing center and made note of their maximum speeds and available features.
Here are the models that could step up your daily routine:
Best walking treadmills
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you’re looking for a bargain without compromising quality, the Mobvoi home treadmill is a steal. It’s sleek and compact, doesn’t eat up valuable floor space, and allows you to clock up 12km/h of speed. We know this doesn’t exactly scream ‘PB’, but it's the highest speed of the models we tested (and many others in the same price bracket.)
The Mobvoi came through testing as our top-rated walking treadmill and marries walking pads with traditional treads quite nicely. The foldable design provides easy storage for space-savers, and there’s no need for construction know-how either. The model comes ready-made as an under-desk walking pad, and you can simply flip the side lever to lift the riser bar up, transforming it into a treadmill.
While we can’t speak for durability from our short testing window, the model does feel surprisingly sturdy with no unsettling jerking or wobbling motions. The riser houses a bright LED dashboard with quick touch controls for speed, an attachable phone holder, and screw-in handlebars. There’s also an additional metric tracking display on the treadmill base that can be controlled via the handy remote. The belt itself felt a little thin underfoot, indicating a lack of cushioning, and it was narrow to stand on which could feel quite suffocating if you’re a bigger user.
You’re not going to be awestruck by high-tech features, but the Mobvoi does have Bluetooth connectivity and brilliant quality inbuilt speakers. The machine only ranked 65 dB for noise at its highest speed, so you can rest assured that the neighbors won’t be banging down your door anytime soon.
Users rated this walking treadmill 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and praised the model for its great quality, sturdy build, and value for money. Some users were not convinced that the Mobvoi was durable, but these opinions weren’t mirrored by most buyers.
- Read our full Mobvoi Home Treadmill review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Looking to simply up your step count? Then yes, invest in this basic machine. The Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill has a pretty old-fashioned and basic look compared to the Mobvoi Home Treadmill and a slightly lower max speed of 8km/h (geared more towards power walking), but it’s one of the more techy models we tested. If you’re keen on cash-saving and low on storage, picking a Bluetooth-enabled tread with a small footprint and access to a fitness app isn’t a bad move.
Similar to the Mobvoi, a quick flip of the riser bar whips you from a walking pad into treadmill mode, and you can transport the machine with fuss-free ease. The belt is a little narrower than we expected and just long enough to stretch your legs; our tester was 5”2, so bigger or taller users might want to measure out the dimensions first.
There are some nice touches on the machine. An LED screen located on the base of the machine flashes up metrics that are controlled with a remote that snaps onto your wrist like a watch. The Bluefin is also fitted with six preset workouts that you can select from using the watch, but these only work between interval speeds of 1-8km/h and might not offer enough intensity for some users. Other features include a tablet holder that fits to the top of the riser, inbuilt speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and access to the Kinomap fitness app (downloadable via your smart device) for access to a range of walking challenges and workouts. What you can do with 8km/h of speed, however, is on you.
If you’re concerned about price, this model might fit the bill.
Users rated this treadmill a 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The model is popular for its easy setup and slim design, but some found it heavy and reported a fault in the belt after purchase – although this doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence.
- Read our full Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Lifespan TR5000-DT7 Omni is the brand’s premium workplace treadmill. It’s an accomplished model, offering a smooth, quiet, and comfortable walking platform with a generously sized belt, zero wobble, and some much-needed upgrades following its predecessors. While we enjoyed our testing period with the machine, we don’t think it’s worth this jaw-dropping price (usually around £2,127/ $2,299.)
Similar to the TR5000’s counterpart – the Lifespan TR1200-DT3 GlowUp (you can read our review of this model further down) – you get 6.4 km/h of speed and a lightly cushioned belt surface with six shock absorbers. The difference? The TR5000 has upgraded aluminum sides, a 3chp (continuous horsepower) motor, and an antiquated sleek desk-mounted control console to boast of. It’s the most comfortable and stable walking treadmill we’ve tried and can be paired with the Lifespan Electronic Desk as part of a package deal, allowing you to control both bits of the kit from the single desk-mounted console. The updated 3” LCD console display is a drastic improvement and can also control the height of the Lifespan Electronic Desk, as well as the treadmill’s speed.
The model does cost £600/ $600 more than the TR1200 for these privileges though, and an absence of bells and whistles such as app connectivity, preset programs, health stats, and remote control, twinned with its considerable cost, begs the question – is it really worth it? We’re not convinced.
Setting up takes mere minutes. The slim base is delivered pre-assembled, so all that’s left to do is plug in the power cord and attach the control console via a DVI cable. If you opt for the bundle (the package we tested), then the assembly of the desk takes about 45 minutes.
Lifespan needs to find ways to level up this model with its astronomical price tag. If you’re after a solid, stable, and dependable under desk treadmill, you won’t find many better options than the Lifespan TR5000-DT7 Omni, but it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. If you’re spending this much, you might as well buy a fully kitted-out treadmill that will let you both work and run on its tread.
Users rated this model 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Lifespan website. Users loved the solid quality and durability of the product, but some would like more speed available and Bluetooth connectivity.
- Read our full LifeSpan Treadmill Desk TR5000-DT7 Omni review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
It’s worth noting that the Kingsmith WalkingPad C2 (sometimes called the S1) is solely a walking pad and doesn’t transition into a traditional-looking treadmill like the Mobvoi Home Treadmill or Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 Treadmill. It’s definitely the sleekest and most stylish looking model of the bunch and boasts an unassuming and modest footprint that makes it perfect for tight office spaces and slick city apartments. If you’re seeking something lightweight and compact to flip open and slip under your office desk, this walking pad definitely does that job.
In terms of setup, you only have to unfold the machine, snap it into place, and plug it in. On the surface, there’s not much else to this model; there’s a small LED screen located on the front of the belt that displays your live metrics, a handy remote control, and 6km/h of speed available to play with. You also have access to the KS Fit app which allows you to control the tread from your phone, plus Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our tester is 5”2 and found the belt unnervingly narrow and unstable to walk on without handlebars, which is a red flag for bigger users. We were impressed with the length of the pad though, which wasn’t far off Lifespan’s dimensions, as this allowed us to comfortably open up our stride.
We were pumped to test out this model's USP – automated user mode. When activated, the machine uses footfall motion sensors located in three parts of the belt to auto-adjust speed to your natural stride. This key feature puts you in control, but unfortunately, we found it unresponsive to our footfall and tricky to master. Unless you’re happy to jump off the machine every five seconds, you might want to stick to manual mode and save your energy.
The Kingsmith is at the pricier end of the range, coming in at just under $600. The ambitious and intuitive automated mode is most likely the reason, but in our opinion, the sensors and KS Fit app need improving to be worth the cash.
Users rated the WalkingPad a 4 out of 5 on Amazon. They were impressed by the neat and compact design. However, some users had difficulties with the remote; they also found the app unstable and not user-friendly.
- Read our full WalkingPad C2 Review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Lifespan TR1200 Treadmill is the younger brother of the Lifespan TR5000 Walking Treadmill (reviewed above) and the most affordable of the latest batch of Lifespan releases. With its simple setup and slim profile, it does the basics of an under desk treadmill and does them very well.
The belt moves smoothly and combines six shock absorbers with a quiet 2chp motor to provide a comfortable, judder-free walking surface. With generous dimensions that match its more premium counterpart, the belt felt firm yet cushioned underfoot, and you have 6.4km/h of speed available to play with. But, considering this model costs around £1,299/$999USD, we would expect more.
In terms of aesthetics, there is nothing exceptional about the Lifespan TR1200. The understated design is functional with a basic and bulky console that looks like it was built in the 90s (you can upgrade this to include the newer console if you’re happy to cough up £100/$100 extra.) The cheaper, plastic finish of the side rails and motor casing doesn’t do justice to the machine’s premium price point, but the overall look is in keeping with the average office environment.
There are no preset programs, apps, or options for remote controls like you get with more affordable models like the Bluefin Fitness Task 2.0 or Mobvoi Home Treadmill, and only basic metrics are offered by way of feedback. A saving grace is the lack of setup required to get this treadmill going. It arrives whole, so you’ll just need to plug in some cables and switch it on.
If you’re considering buying the LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp, we recommend first thinking about how much you’ll be using the machine. If you’re committed to using it every day, the benefits might stack up to validate the cost. But the model does little to develop the under desk treadmill scene, and it’s hard to understand why this model is so expensive. If you’re a technology lover looking for bells and whistles galore, the Lifespan TR1200 is not for you.
Users rated the sturdy, smooth quality of the design and stamped it with a very respective 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Lifespan website. However, some mentioned the desk was wobbly (purchased separately) and the machine was heavy to move around.
- Read our full LifeSpan Under Desk Treadmill TR1200-DT3 GlowUp review
How we tested
How do we test the best walking treadmills at Live Science?
We tested all treadmills in our purpose-built testing center (with the exception of Mobvoi, which was tested out at home). We completed several walking sessions on each machine, testing out their maximum speeds and all available features. After spending a day on each treadmill, we ranked it across the following categories:
- Set-up and usability
- Design and display
- Value for money
These figures were used to calculate a final score out of five, and decide which machines made our roundup of the best walking treadmills.
How to choose the best walking treadmill
What should I look for in a walking treadmill?
Unlike the best treadmills, we don’t think walking models need to be packed to the rafters with fancy features like touchscreens and incline settings. After all, sending an email while facing a 40% gradient (offered by the impressive NordicTrack X22i) is no mean feat.
What we do ask of these machines is that they offer a stable walking surface that doesn’t wobble or shudder as you rack up the miles. You’ll also want a belt that allows you to stride without worrying about catching your feet on the side rails or the front of the machine.
If you want to use your walking treadmill while working, it needs to be compact and maneuverable so you can slip it underneath a standing desk, and you’ll want some sort of remote control so you can alter the speed from your workstation.
Finally, for most people, value for money is key. While you can spend four-figures on a walking treadmill, we actually found our favorite model wasn’t the most expensive. Make sure to read our individual reviews to work out which one has the features you need.
Can you lose weight on a walking treadmill?
Can you lose weight walking on a treadmill?
Many people imagine sweaty exercise sessions and intense workouts when considering how to lose weight. But, in reality, low intensity exercise and activities usually account for far more of your daily calorie burn. Burning calories, as well as the right diet, can help you achieve a sustainable calorie or energy deficit which is the key principle behind weight loss (as stated by this study from the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism).
Non exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, refers to calories burned during any activity that isn’t formal exercise. For example, walking, cleaning the house or even fidgeting. It is believed to be responsible for far more of your daily energy expenditure than exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT, or the calories burned through formal exercise) and increasing the amount you walk each day is a sure-fire way to give this figure a significant boost. So, by using a walking treadmill, you can increase your daily calorie burn and achieve a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss.
"There are a couple of things to consider when walking on a treadmill," said Kennedy. "Walking on a treadmill with zero incline is easier than walking outside due to less friction and wind resistance, so to get the most out of it maybe raise the incline up a little.
"Walking on a treadmill leads to better overall balance, better balance is not just useful for senior citizens to avoid falls. It can help people of all ages avoid injuries too," he said.
Nathan Kennedy is a fully qualified personal trainer, online coach and fitness expert. He has been part of the fitness industry since 2005, going to the gym and competing in bodybuilding shows. Kennedy has been a personal trainer for 6 years. He is also a representative for sports nutrition brand Bio-Synergy
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and resident fitness writer at Future PLC. Having trained to work with both the mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and aims to bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of fitness. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and how we can build more sustainable training methods. You’ll find her writing about the importance of habit-building, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and workouts.