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Low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts

man using desk treadmill
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Low-impact workouts can be beneficial in a number of ways. If you spend a lot of time sitting for work, breaking up your workday by taking walks every half hour or so can be a good way to stay in shape. Low-intensity exercises have also been shown to raise vigor and lower fatigue, making you more likely to want to keep working out.  

"Workouts do not have to be 'hard-core' to be effective and to have a positive impact on your overall health," says personal trainer and nutritional specialist Julie Lohre

"When you compare walking on a treadmill with higher-impact activities like running or plyometrics, there is a lot for your joints to be happy about. Because you are staying connected to the surface more consistently and avoiding bounding movements, there is less stress on your joints, tendons, and ligaments."

Treadmills can be great for staying motivated and on track with your exercise goals, especially if you work from home. They're also perfect for low-intensity, joint-friendly workouts.

"Walking on a treadmill is considered a low-impact form of exercise," says certified personal trainer and studio owner Lauren George. "Running is, by nature, a high-impact workout; however, selecting a treadmill with a cushioned belt and built-in shock absorption technology can lessen the impact and wear and tear on your joints."

By buying the right treadmill, you can easily set yourself up with a low-impact daily routine. These treadmills can also easily open the door to more joint-friendly workout opportunities


Knowing what to look for when shopping for treadmills is an important first step. Below, we put together a shopping guide full of the best low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts. Plus, get expert advice on how to make your treadmill workout low-impact.

Low-impact treadmills for joint-friendly workouts

Here's a quick look at the best low-impact treadmills.

Consider these treadmills from Bowflex, WalkingPad, Sunny Health & Fitness and more.

Best monitor: Bowflex treadmills

Bowflex treadmills: Save up to $500

The Bowflex treadmills are worth the splurge because of their impressively cushioned belts. 

"If you are looking for a treadmill that can help you take your running to the next level, the Bowflex line of treadmills' sturdy design and excellent tech deck are a great fit," George says. "The longer, cushioned belt is ideal for heavier mileage."

Bowflex treadmills boast motorized incline ranges from -5% to 20% for your cardio session, Comfort Tech deck cushioning, SoftDrop folding systems and Bluetooth capabilities. They also come with a one-year JRNY membership ($149 value), which grants you access to the JRNY app, featuring a wide range of fitness classes taught by world-class trainers. 

"One feature that the Bowflex JRNY offers that is above and beyond other workout platforms is that it adapts with you as you progress," George says. "The app suggests different workouts as your fitness improves."

Bowflex Treadmill 10, $2,299

Bowflex Treadmill 22, $,2,999

Easiest to store: WalkingPad C2 Mini foldable walking treadmill


Just in case it's not totally clear: Walking is a fantastic, low-impact form of exercise. If you just want to walk, this mini treadmill is also the perfect size to slide under a standing desk. When it's not in use, this fitness machine can be folded to almost half its size for easy storage, so it's the best treadmill for a small space. Choose from five colors.

"If your goal is to up your daily step count without compromising your house decor, the compact WalkingPad is an excellent option!" George says. "You can fit it under a standing desk to accrue more steps while answering emails, or hop on for a stroll while watching TV. The belt is also designed for maximum cushion and comfort."

WalkingPad C2 Mini foldable walking treadmill, $430 with code WPDADGIFT (reduced from $530)

Easy to assemble: Runow folding treadmill

RUNOW Folding Treadmill

This low-impact folding treadmill has three incline options and an LED monitor that tracks your speed, distance, calories burned, time and pulse, all while you're working out. And if you're worried about joint pain, there's more good news: This piece of gym equipment has a shock-absorbing system that protects your knees and ankles.

Even better: It takes only 15 minutes to assemble.

Runow folding treadmill, $530 (reduced from $700)

Above-average weight capacity: Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill

Speaking of walking for a low-impact workout, the T7643 walking treadmill by Sunny Health & Fitness would make an excellent addition to your home gym. The treadmill boasts a 19.5-inch-wide surface for walking or running and an above-average weight capacity of 350 pounds. It's equipped with two bottle holders (even walking can be thirsty work) and a space for your tablet or phone.

A good fit for speed walkers and light joggers, the T7643 walking treadmill can reach speeds up to 6 mph. The built-in digital monitor displays your burned calories, speed and distance covered while working out. This piece of home gym equipment's deck can be folded into the frame. Plus, it's often on sale.

Sunny Health & Fitness T7643 walking treadmill, $600 (reduced from $770)

Extra shock absorption: Sunny Health & Fitness electric treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness Electric Treadmill

If a bunch of fancy tech isn't important to you, check out this affordable treadmill from Sunny Health & Fitness. It has an LCD monitor where you can see your distance and time, and a pulse grip, but no confusing smart tech beyond that. Also find nine workout programs and three levels of adjustable incline. You can fold this treadmill and stow it away after use. Even better: It promises to have extra shock absorption for joint-friendly workouts.

Sunny Health & Fitness electric treadmill, $420

Best for recovery: Exerpeutic TF2000 recovery fitness treadmill

Exerpeutic TF2000 Recovery Fitness Treadmill
Sam's Club

If you're in recovery mode, check out this specialty treadmill. It has handrails all along its belt for balance. The handrails are padded for comfort, and this walking treadmill has an LCD display showing time, speed, distance, calories burned and pulse. It has a 300-pound weight capacity and its belt is shock-absorbing, which is better for delicate or injured joints.

Exerpeutic TF2000 recovery fitness treadmill, $700

How can you make your treadmill workout low-impact?

Low-intensity exercise has been linked to better health -- especially for older adults aged 65 and older. This includes walking, so why not use your treadmill for a good low-impact workout? The first step is picking out the best treadmill (perhaps from our list above?).

"Making sure that the treadmill you choose will effectively absorb the shock of your run should be a primary concern," Lohre says. "Running can be rough on the joints, so good cushioning can help protect your joints and prevent injury. Deck thickness makes a difference, as does the quality of the deck material. Ideally, you want the deck to be 3/4 of an inch thick.

"Also, some treadmills use cushioning material like foam, gel or air pockets that can absorb some of the downward forces created when running."

Now that you're prepped to buy the right treadmill for the job, you might be wondering: What is a low-impact workout you can try out on your new machine?


"For an excellent low-impact tread workout, incorporate hiking intervals," Lohre says. "Use the tread's incline feature to adjust the slope of the deck. It is amazing how challenging a fast walk can be when you are at a high incline.

"What is really important though is consistency with your exercise. Hitting the treadmill every once in a while is fine, but to really take advantage of the physical benefits that these kinds of low intensity workouts can bring, you need to make it a habit. Regular exercise is huge for both your body and your mental well being." Lohre runs a family business with her husband at

How we chose these treadmills

When picking the best low-impact treadmills, we considered:

  • Authentic customer reviews: We combed through verified customer reviews to ensure that real buyers are consistently pleased with these brands and products. 
  • Expert recommendations: We spoke with certified personal trainers Lauren George and Julie Lohre about low-impact treadmills and joint-friendly workouts. 
  • Star rating: All of these products have a four-star rating or higher, guaranteeing a high quality buy no matter which one you end up checking out.
  • Your unique needs: We picked treadmills for walking and running; budget shoppers and those looking to splurge; and more.

Related: Read more about how we review products

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