best cushioned treadmill

The Best Cushioned Treadmill To Keep You Running

by Jeremy Campbell - Last Updated August 14, 2019

Treadmills have never been my thing. Strength training is what I’m all about! I did spend some time running, and worked up to 30 miles a week before injuring myself and deciding I wanted to focus solely on my strength.

In the interest of providing you with a thorough review of the best cushioned treadmills on the market, I broke out the old running shoes and put several of the top machines through their paces. After what seems like an eternity of staring at a wall while walking, running, and skipping about on treadmills, I can recommend with confidence that the Sole Fitness F80 Treadmill is your best cushioned treadmill bet.

Don’t just take my word for it though. To make an informed decision on which cushioned treadmill to go with, I recommend continuing below to learn why this treadmill was my favorite, and what set it apart from the other top contenders in the market.

The Best Cushioned Treadmills

What’s Good?

Sole Fitness F80 Folding TreadmillFeatures 8 running programs and both rip and chest strap heart rate monitoring
ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill24 built-in programs, iFit compatibility, as well as grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring
NordicTrack T6.5 S20 built-in programs, MP3 compatibility, and holders for your belongings
ProForm Performance 600iQuiet 2.75 CHP Mach Z commercial motor, 22 programs, and cooling fans included

The Best Cushioned Treadmills

Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

Image of the Sole New 2019 F80 Treadmill 

Out of all the cushioned treadmills I had the chance to try, the Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill was my favorite. It has everything you want from a treadmill, plus enough extras to keep you playing with it for quite some time.

As the name implies, this treadmill is able to fold so that you can tuck it out of the way when it’s not in use, which makes it a great option if you’ve got limited space to work with. It has a wide range of speeds to choose from, starting at 0.5 mph, all the way up to 12 mph.

The cushioning on the Sole Fitness F80 makes this treadmill a real joy to use. They claim that their whisper deck is able to reduce strain and impact on your joints by up to 40%, and while I don’t know about all that, it sure feels great to run on!

Pros

  • Folds with EasyLift Assist technology
  • Quiet 3.5 CHP commercial grade motor
  • 8 built-in running programs
  • Grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring
  • CushionFlex Whisper Desk
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • MP3 compatibility
  • Bottle and tablet holders
  • Cooling fans
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Side rails are on the shorter side
  • Difficult Assembly

ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill

Image of the ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill (2016 Model) 

Coming in at a close second was the ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill. This treadmill feels incredibly stable when running on it. It features speed adjustments up to 12 mph and can go from a -3% decline, all the way up to a 15% incline, which helps make things a little more interesting while spending time inside.

If the adjustability wasn’t enough to keep you running, the 32 built-in running programs are sure to help! It has this cool feature called iFit that simulates running in different areas in the real world. So if you ever wondered what it was like to run The Great Wall of China, you can get a rough idea with this machine.

It comes with ProShox cushioning which was more than adequate in providing a comfortable running experience. It didn’t feel at all taxing on my joints.

Pros

  • Folds with EasyLift Assist technology
  • 3.5 CHP Mach Z Commercial motor
  • 24 built-in running programs
  • Grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring
  • iFit feature
  • MP3 compatibility
  • Bottle and tablet holders
  • Cooling fans
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Customer service is reportedly slow to respond
  • iFit wireless module isn’t included standard

NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

Image of the NordicTrack NTL17915 T 6.5 S Treadmill 

Next up is the affordable NordicTrack T6.5 S. If you’re looking for a great indoor running experience without breaking the bank, this is a great option. Coming in at less than half the price of the previous options, you are getting a lot for your money!

It comes with 20 built-in running programs designed to both improve your cardio fitness and help you lose weight. I enjoyed messing with the programs but found myself spending most of my time in manual mode.

A real issue I had with this treadmill was the 10 mph max speed. It may not seem like much of a difference than the previous options, but if you’re trying to get a good HIIT workout in with this machine, hitting the max speed on this treadmill may lead to some disappointment.

Pros

  • Folds with EasyLift Assist technology
  • 2.6 CHP motor
  • 20 built-in running programs
  • Grip heart rate monitoring
  • iFit feature
  • MP3 compatibility
  • Bottle and tablet holders
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • No cooling fans
  • No chest strap heart rate monitoring
  • 10 mph max speed

ProForm Performance 600i Treadmill

Image of the ProForm Performance 600i Treadmill 

For a little more money than the NordicTrack, the ProForm Performance 600i is a solid option for your consideration. As with the other options I’ve gone over so far, this machine packs in a lot of features. Most notable are the in-built programs, and MP3 compatibility in order to keep you trudging on.

One thing I really liked about this treadmill was the near-silent motor they’ve built into it. Even at the max speed of 12 mph, this treadmill was incredibly quiet!

The 600i features the same ProShox cushioning system of the 2000 model. So you can still enjoy a smooth and comfortable experience even after a marathon jogging session.

Pros

  • Folding treadmill with EasyLift Assist.
  • Quiet 2.75 CHP Mach Z commercial motor
  • 22 built-in running programs
  • Grip heart rate monitoring
  • iFit feature
  • MP3 compatibility
  • Bottle and tablet holders
  • Cooling fans
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Customer service is reportedly slow to respond
  • No chest strap heart rate monitoring

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 Treadmill

Image of the Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill Folding Motorized Running Machine 

While I was in the process of building out my home gym, Sunny Health came up quite a bit as a solid budget option for cardio equipment. When I finally got a chance to try their SF-T4400 Treadmill, I was not disappointed.

Being a budget model, don’t expect the smoothest running experience. I found it to be noticeably rougher than the other models I tested. It has two shock absorbers on either side of the treadmill rated to absorb up to 10% of impact. That’s better than nothing!

My biggest issue with this treadmill is the 9 mph speed limit. For me, this is simply too low. If you’re more of a walker and light jogger this may be more than sufficient, which is why it still makes it on this list. Just keep that in mind, when considering this option.

Another issue I saw with this product was the narrow running deck. I’m far from a tall guy and didn’t really have a problem running on it. I think if my stride was just a little longer though I’d probably end up seeking something a bit bigger.

Pros

  • Soft drop folding system makes for easy folding
  • Quiet 2.20 peak HP motor
  • 9 built-in running programs
  • Grip heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Narrower running deck than other options
  • Low weight capacity

Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill

Image of the Weslo Cadence G 5.9i Treadmill with Bluetooth 

The tiny Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill is a real bargain option, and it shows. It lacks a lot of the extras that more expensive treadmills have to offer you, but at this price who can complain?

With speed settings ranging from between 0.5 and 10 mph, you’re given enough variation to get a solid cardio workout in. It only has two different incline positions, which is a shame. I sometimes find it hard to notice a difference between some of the more subtle variations in the more expensive options though.

They still managed to fit in 6 running programs that range from weight loss regiments to interval training programs. They really should have added in a few more of these. I don’t use these sorts of programs very much, but I know plenty of runners who do. Many will likely pass on the Cadence G 5.9 for this reason alone.

One thing you don’t see often in this price range is a warranty. They offer a 1-year warranty on the motor, and 90 days the rest of the machine.

Pros

  • Incredibly compact
  • 2.25 HP continuous duty motor
  • 6 built-in running programs
  • Grip heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Not suitable for running
  • Lackluster warranty compared to the competition

How To Shop For A Cushioned Treadmill

When shopping around for a new treadmill for the home or commercial gym, there are a few key things you want to keep in mind. Some of the main points I found most important when accessing the suitability of these machines include:

Running Surface Area

If it’s your first time shopping for a treadmill, this one is an easy one to overlook. If you don’t take it this consideration when you make your purchase you may be in for some disappointment. Stride lengths vary quite a bit between runners. If you’re on the taller side then you’re going to need a larger running surface than someone a foot shorter.

Extra Features

With the price tags that come attached to many of these treadmills, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Keep track of the various extras that the different models on your list have. Some features to watch for include:

  • Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Shock Absorption
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • MP3 Compatibility
  • USB Charge Ports
  • WiFi

Manufacturer’s Reputation

When I make a large purchase I always make sure to research the various companies in the market. Individual product reviews only tell you part of the story. Knowing whether a manufacturer has a reputation of going above and beyond, or leaving their customers hanging can really swing your decision to buy.

Resale Value

Resale value is always a good thing to take into consideration when purchasing a larger item like a treadmill. We all like to think we are going to stick with our fitness goals for the long-haul, but things can change.

As I said, I used to spend a lot of time running but have since quit. I still lift regularly, but if I had dropped a load of cash on an un-sellable treadmill only to quit using it 6 months later, I’d be left with a very expensive clothes rack indeed.

Even if you do end up sticking with it, and use your treadmill for years to come, a high resale value indicates a higher quality and more worthwhile product to spend your money on.

Durability

When spending money on gym equipment of any kind, you want it to last. Having to replace an expensive treadmill every few years simply is unreasonable. If you’re using your new treadmill regularly, it’s going to take quite a beating.

Check reviews online for reports of premature breakage to get a feel for whether the treadmill you have in mind is built to last.

Wrap Up

If you live in an area where the weather is less than ideal, a cushioned treadmill is a worthy investment for your health and well-being. Being able to get a good cardio workout in from the comfort of your own home is a real luxury. Not having to go outside is one less excuse you’ll have to skip workouts, and makes sticking with a routine much easier.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above cushioned treadmills. They really are a great buy if you’ve got the space and money for one.

I’m glad to have given running a second chance. Even though I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it, if I was going to buy a cushioned treadmill, my money would definitely go towards the Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill. It has everything I expect a treadmill in its price range to have, with enough variation in speed and incline settings to keep things interesting.

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