Folding Treadmill - What To Know Before You Buy

by : Vienna Miller

Buying a folding treadmill? Buying any treadmill these days can be complicated - there are so many new brands and models competing for your attention it can get confusing. Here's what you need to know before you go out to shop for a folding treadmill:

A fold-up treadmill provides both the luxury of a home workout and saves you valuable floor space. Foldup treadmills are ideal for condos, apartments or smaller exercise rooms. They're also easier to clean around and under!

There are 2 main types of foldup treadmills:

1) Power-folding Or Shock Assisted (where you get some help folding the treadmill). This helps to save the strain on your back. Power fold-up treadmills are few and far between but basically you press a button and the treadmill folds and unfolds itself.

Shock assisted treadmills are a little easier to find and you do have to put out a little effort, but not a lot, to get the treadmill to fold and unfold.

2) Manual folding - This is where you lift the treadmill itself to fold it up (and hold it to let it down and unfold it). If the treadmill is fairly light, this isn't so bad, but if it's a heavier unit, it can be a pain, especially for an older or health-compromised person. Most treadmills - especially those under $1200 - are manual folding.

Regardless of what type of folding mechanism is used, once the treadmill is folded, most treadmills have a locking mechanism where you can lock it into place. Some treadmills even have wheels on the bottom at the base of the treadmill so that once it's locked, you can easily move it around into a closet or another room.

While most economy treadmills fold up, there are a lot of higher end treadmills that don't. Why? What's the difference between a folding and non-folding treadmill?

Folding units, by the nature of their design, are generally not as stable as non-folding machines. (That doesn't mean they are not stable, it just means they are not AS stable). This is an important consideration when buying. According to Runner's World, stability is the most important quality of a good treadmill. For example, you don't want the treadmill to shake or wobble when you pick up your pace.

While there are a number of factors that contribute to stability (like user weight capacity, unit weight, quality of construction, etc.) foldability is one of them. This is why, if you look at stability ratings for various treadmills, non-folding machines almost always come out on top. This is also why most commercial or health club treadmills do not fold.

So runners or heavier users may want to consider a non-folding treadmill before buying. There are exceptions to this rule of course, but in general this is the case.

Overall, fold-up treadmills offer some great space saving and portability benefits. However keep in mind the various types of folding mechanisms available (especially if you're buying the treadmill for an elderly person who may not be able to lift a manual folding treadmill) as well as the stability benefits of non-folding machines.