By Simon Gould
The great thing about treadmills compared to exercising outside. They have a lovely, comfortable and spongy, cushioned deck. Typical injuries you may get outside you don’t get on a treadmill. They’re far kinder to your joints especially the knees. Here I’ve gone through the treadmills with the best cushioning technology at each price point.
A quick word about cushioning in treadmills
Generally, the more expensive the treadmill, the better the cushioning. The more advanced technology is in the deck. Some models have many cells along the belt and deck which offer superior shock absorption and suspension. The money goes into the features as well as the deck in the treadmill and you’ll feel it when you use it.
As well as the cost, modern treadmills tend to have better cushioning. The research and development will have been used to offer a better product and this counts in the deck too. Some treadmills from the same make may cost the same but you’re better off choosing the latest model. As this will have newer technology, the cushioning will be better as a result.
|Top Pick!||Sole F63||Cushion Flex Whisper Deck||Best Price*|
|2nd||Bowflex Treadmill 10||Comfort Tech||Best Price*|
|3rd||Horizon 7.8 AT||3 Zone Variable Response||Best Price*|
|4th||NordicTrack Commercial Series||FlexSelect||Best Price*|
|5th||Peloton Tread||Proprietary Cushioning System||Best Price*|
Best cushioned treadmill under $1,000
This is the cheapest I’d go for a treadmill. I wouldn’t trust the cushioning at a lower price. Cheaper treadmills have short warranties and don’t last. This is my top pick anyway and I often recommend it when asked by people who want to know what treadmill is best. For cushioning it stands out among others and I’ll tell you why in the review below.
Top Pick: Sole F63 Treadmill
Sole have found the F63 treadmill deck reduces the impact on the joints by 40%. The deck flexes in a special way which provides extra shock absorption. This means you can walk or run with confidence which you may not be able to do outside. The heavy duty steel construction and high quality components mean it will last and the warranty backs this up.
- Motor Power: 3.0 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
- Cushioning: Cushion flex whisper deck
The display is easy to read and gives you all your workout information like speed, distance, calories burned and more, to help you monitor your progress. The frame is precision welded steel for a stronger and more stable construction. The top speed at 12 mph is generous as is the incline. The tablet holder and Bluetooth speakers mean you’re good for entertainment.
The folding mechanism locks in place so it’s safe around children. The deck, as well as being extra cushioned, is quieter. The speed and incline adjust smoothly and predictably. The motor at 3.0 CHP is suitable for walkers and runners and has a lifetime warranty. It’s got all the right specifications you need to get some good exercise indoors.
The weight capacity of 325 lbs is a notable feature. If you’re looking to lose weight and you may be slightly heavy, then the F63 can accommodate you. It’s Sole fitness’ best selling treadmill because their customers love it. Word of mouth has meant more and more people are discovering it. So if you’re looking for a good cushioned treadmill, you have it here.
|Pros40% Reduced joint impactGood warrantyLarge weight capacityHeavy duty constructionLow price||ConsHeavy treadmill|
Best cushioned treadmill under $1,500
At this price you’re looking at a far better treadmill. Some have touchscreens and these are advanced technology which are now just coming down in price. Good makers of treadmills all have a range for a price of around $1,500 and I’ve chosen ones that has good cushioning and all round good features.
NordicTrack Commercial Series Treadmills
The whole Commercial series by NordicTrack are excellent and the range deserves recognition. There are 4 treadmills in this series and they differ in price. Normally it’s the screen which is bigger as you go up in model. The price goes up too but they are very well worth investigating and are popular for very good reasons.
- Motor Power: 3.0+ CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 300+ lbs
- Cushioning: FlexSelect
The cushioning is better once you reach the number 7 in the series. The picture shows there are 3 cells within the deck whereas the lowest model has 2. NordicTrack are well known for their absorbent and easy to use decks and that’s why I’ve featured them in this list. FlexSelect is NordicTrack’s own technology and found no where else.
The features on NordicTrack treadmills are exceptional, this is especially the case with the motors. They are very powerful and the price still remains reasonable. They have a lot of treadmills for sale but the ones I’ve featured I think are the best of the bunch. They are great for in home workouts and that’s what they’re made for.
|ProsTouchscreenWarrantyMaximum speedGood companyiFit membership||ConsWeight capacity|
Best cushioned treadmill under $1,750
If and when I need a new treadmill, this is the one I would go for. I believe you pay for what you get and this is what I would spend my money on. They represent a good investment and can last years if looked after. The one I’ve gone for here is by a fantastic make and is under $2,000. You will do well to consider this machine.
Bowflex Treadmill 10
I like Bowflex, they update their equipment regularly so you always know you’re getting the latest technology. The Bowflex T10 is their best yet and a mammoth machine. It has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs which is the biggest you’ll find. The motor too is good at 4.0 CHP which can cater to runners as well as walkers.
- Motor Power: 2.5 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
- Cushioning: Comfort Tech
The cushioning is especially good and why I’ve featured it here. The model below has 3 cells in the deck, this one has 5. You can see them in the picture on the side of the treadmill. These are designed to absorb the shock along the entire deck and enable you to push off for a comfortable exercise experience. That’s exactly what you’ll feel.
As well as being bouncy, the deck is long and wide too. If you have long strides or are not confident on a smaller surface you can relax here. I like the warranty which is 2 years of labor and 15 years on the frame and drive motor. Bowflex clearly have faith in the build quality of it’s parts and components. Overall the 10 is an impressive treadmill.
|ProsLarge LCD screenWarrantyFitness appWeight capacityWorkout programs||ConsSubscription for app|
Best cushioned treadmill under $2,000
At present I don’t think you need to spend over $2,000 to get a good treadmill for the home with good cushioning. But if you have the money then there are many treadmills that are over this amount. Some run into the many thousands by companies like Technogym. But I’ve chosen one that could still be within your budget and is a good treadmill in it’s own right.
Horizon 7.8 AT Treadmill
The 7.8 AT is part of the Studio series of treadmills by Horizon Fitness. The cushioning is designed to protect your knees, back and other delicate joints that need it. The motor is powerful enough to take any exercise routine you want to put it through. Multiple people in the household can run on it and the motor will be able to cope.
- Motor Power: 4.0 CHP
- Folding: Yes
- Weight Capacity: 375 lbs
- Cushioning: 3 Zone variable response
The deck has Horizon’s own technology for the cushioning system and is based on how the walker or jogger lands and pushes off as they stride. The first zone is at the front and is designed to give you a soft landing. You then enter the second zone where you move to the back of the treadmill. This is a transition where your foot stays on the deck.
The third zone at the back is designed to help you push off as you take another stride. The response from the deck varies depending which part you’re on. It’s all very clever and only Horizon Fitness has this. Treadmills are far kinder than exercising outside and this is the case with this 7.8 AT. It has free shipping and a warranty you can depend upon.
What I like is the 375 lbs weight capacity. Even if you don’t weigh any where near that amount, it’s a sign the treadmill is durable and sturdy to take that weight. It will last and the warranty backs it up. The Horizon 7.8 AT is a class beating treadmill and while it’s a bit more expensive than most, but you get the quality you pay for.
|ProsFree shippingGood warrantyBluetoothBig InclineEntertainment||ConsPrice|
Best cushioned treadmill under $3,000
If money is no object and you want a really good home treadmill, this next one could be the one for you. These became very popular in recent years, but not really for the cushioning, for what they show on the display. They’ve become synonymous with streaming classes, so you’ll need a fast internet connection to use it at it’s fullest.
Peloton Tread Treadmill
If you know anything about fitness equipment, you would have heard of the Peloton bikes and their rise in popularity. The Peloton Tread is the treadmill version of the bike. They have the same screens and the classes are the same, except you’re running and not cycling. These classes aren’t really designed for walking, they can be very tough.
- Motor Power: 3.0 CHP
- Folding: No
- Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
- Cushioning: Proprietary cushioning system
Peloton don’t say much about the cushioning except it’s been designed exclusively for their own treadmills. The top speed is the highest on this list at 12.5 mph, however, the incline is the lowest at 12.5%. So those who like to burn those extra calories using the incline may be disappointed with it. But it’s the sort of treadmill that looks good in your home gym.
The actual specifications fall short. The motor is only 3.0 CHP and for the price I would want 4.0 CHP, the Horizon above is 4.0 CHP. The warranty should really be 2 years and not one. You have to pay extra for delivery and set up, but due to it’s size, you’d have to choose that option anyway as it weighs 290 lbs. But people buy the Peloton Tread for the classes and that’s why they’re so popular.
|ProsThousands of on demand classesBluetoothLarge screen||ConsPoor motorShort warrantyVery heavy treadmillExtra charge for shipping|
Other ways to improve cushioning
Running shoes – These are another layer of cushioning between you and the treadmill. Even if you’re walking, I still recommend investing in running shoes. Get them fitted for you from a running shoe shop so you always know the ideal type for you. There are 3 types and each depend on your arch size to determine which one is right.
Running shoes have special shock absorption built into the sole. The technology in them is very advanced. A lot of research has gone into making them comfortable and supporting. There are no such thing as treadmill walking shoes. Every recommendation I’ve seen are actually running shoes. You can be confident in a running shoe shop that you’ll get the most suitable shoe for you, even if you walk.
Technique – Both walking and running technique can be improved and this can make a difference to the amount of impact that goes through your joints. Try to walk and run as naturally as possible. Don’t extend your strides. Don’t exercise when you’re fatigued as this can affect your technique. If you walk, land on the heel, if you run, land on your mid foot.
If your treadmill has a decline, don’t use it. Inclines are ok but not decline. Walking or running downhill puts a lot of stress on your joints when your foot lands. Treadmills with declines are rare, so don’t be tempted to buy one with this feature. I don’t recommend it even for regular walkers or runners. You’re liable to get more injuries using it.
Cushioning is a great feature to think about but don’t make all your decisions on that alone. While some treadmills have better deck technology than others, they all make exercise easier on your limbs. The treadmills I’ve featured here are all worth the money, I’ve only shown the ones that I think are worth buying and includes special cushioning technology.
I can understand if you’re elderly, recently injured or overweight then cushioning is an important consideration. Don’t forget to also consider the weight capacity, if it’s high then the treadmill is strong and sturdy. I always like to look at that and the warranty. You want a treadmill to last and they are signs that it will.
Treadmills are so much easier on the joints and I know that from experience. When I run outside I start to get pain in my left knee because I’m in my 40’s, I just don’t get that on my treadmill. I can exercise for longer and at a better intensity. So you can be confident that a treadmill is a good choice if you want exercise in your home and you need extra cushioning.