Best Treadmills for Seniors
In my daily work with seniors as a SilverSneakers instructor, being adaptable is the name of the game. From arthritis and osteoporosis to loss of balance, limited mobility, and more, with age comes special considerations in exercise. Sadly, many seniors allow limitations to excuse inactivity, ultimately leading to more health issues. Buying a treadmill is a great first step toward graceful aging.
While there are many variables to consider, the best treadmills for seniors all share unique comfort and safety features:
- High quality cushioning to make exercise gentler on your joints
- Power incline to shift pressure away from your knees and allow fast calorie burn, even at slow paces
- Easy-to-read digital displays
- Special safety features
If you’re in the market for a senior-friendly treadmill, you can use my mini guide and list of top treadmills for seniors below to find the perfect match. I’ve selected each based on what I’d recommend for my own senior clients with features like great cushioning, long handrails, safety stop mechanisms, and other must-haves to suit your workout needs. Remember, there are many components to consider when purchasing a new treadmill, so take your time to arrive at one that fits your needs, budget, and preferences.
Top by Category
When it comes to the needs of active older adults, the Sole F63 pulls out all the stops. Aside from the fact that you can score this machine for right around $1,000, seniors in particular benefit from the Cushion Flex Whisper Deck that works to minimize joint pain by decreasing impact by 35-45% when compared with pavement running.
Even with its low cost, the Sole F63 features commercial-grade components like large track rollers and a heavy-duty motor. Rather than highlighting fancy extras many seniors never use, the focus is on above-average workmanship backed by an impressive warranty that offers lifetime coverage for the frame and motor; three years for the parts, deck, and electronics; and one year of labor. If you’re in need of a treadmill that’s easy on the joints and wallet without compromising on quality, the Sole F63 is an excellent option.
|Incline||0 – 15%|
|Running Area||20″ x 60″|
|Top Speed||12 MPH|
|Weight Capacity||325 LBS|
|Dimensions||82″ L x 35″ W x 57″ H|
|Warranty||Lifetime Frame, Motor, Deck; 3 Years Electronics & Parts; 1 Year Labor|
Easiest on Joints: NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS10i
The NordicTrack FS10i isn’t your run of the mill cardio trainer. It’s a multi-purpose fitness solution that features the capability to function as a stepper, elliptical, or a treadmill. With age comes pain in the joints, and this can be a deal-breaker when it comes to high-impact exercises like running. The FS10i earns my seal of approval for the easiest on the joints. Its smooth gliding action eliminates the repetitive pounding that rivals fingernails on a chalkboard during an arthritis flare up.
With the reduced joint stress, seniors can enjoy longer, more productive cardio sessions, and this is well facilitated by the oversized, cushioned pedals. When working with people who have weight loss goals, common concerns my senior clients have include increased risks for issues like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Some don’t realize that geriatric obesity can even increase the likelihood of developing dementia. The FreeStride FS10i is great for weight loss since it allows nearly double the stride of a traditional elliptical. This makes it simple to keep exercise interesting with different exercise types that increase sustainability. And, with a weight limit of 375 pounds, seniors who need it most can benefit from the superior cushioning and smooth glide.
|Incline||0 — 10%|
|Weight Capacity||375 LBS|
|Dimensions||58.5″ L x 29.5″ W x 74″ H|
|Warranty||10 Years Frame, Motor, Deck; 2 Years Electronics & Parts; 1 Year Labor|
Best for Walking: NordicTrack EXP 7i
Part of a new deal offered by NordicTrack, the EXP 7i now comes with a four-year Family Membership to the iFit app required. And with it, a whole host of great walking and hiking workouts. With both live and video programs available, walkers can stroll the world with professional trainers or just music. And let’s face it. Many of us don’t look forward to exercise, and that’s unfortunate, because little changes in approach can make it an enjoyable experience to be anticipated, not dreaded. Seniors who put exercise off or skip it altogether due to the fear of joint pain, stress fractures, and injury can reduce risk of early death by 15% by walking as little as 10 minutes per day. When armed with the NordicTrack EXP 7i, it’s simple to make significant improvements in quality of life.
What makes the NordicTrack EXP 7i my pick for the best treadmill for walking? Two primary features work together to earn the title starting with the FlexSelect Cushioning system that works to keep impact on the joints minimal. Combined with the Smart Response Drive that reduces strain while emulating real-world walking conditions, you’ve got yourself the perfect machine for the senior-on-the-go.
|Incline||0 — 12%|
|Running Area||22″ x 60″|
|Top Speed||12 MPH|
|Weight Capacity||375 LBS|
|Dimensions||77.3″ L x 35.3″ W x 59.6″ H|
|Warranty||10-year Frame; 2 Years Parts; 1-Year Labor|
Best on a Budget: Horizon T101
While it’s definitely important not to compromise on quality to get the lowest cost, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to score a quality treadmill for senior fitness. The Horizon T101 is a budget-friendly, entry-level treadmill with a respectable warranty at a price you can afford. For just $649, you get to enjoy nine built-in workout programs; 30 programs based on time, distance, and calories; and manual, interval, and weight-loss workouts.
For seniors living in small spaces, the T101 can be folded for easy storage and transport, yet it can still support up to 300 pounds. Heart rate training is easy using the dual-grip monitoring system to ensure seniors are able to effectively maintain safe levels of exertion. I recommend this for the seniors I work with who are new to fitness or interested in light to moderate workouts. Don’t spend more than you have to when the Horizon T101 offers everything you’ll actually use.
|Incline||0 — 10%|
|Running Area||20″ x 55″|
|Top Speed||10 MPH|
|Weight Capacity||300 LBS|
|Dimensions||70″ L x 34″ W x 55″ H|
|Screen||LED Data Windows|
|Warranty||Lifetime Frame, Motor, Deck; 1 Year Parts & Labor|
Best Build Quality: Landice L7
You get what you pay for, and that’s a good thing. When you put forth the extra investment in a quality treadmill like the Landice L7, you expect to enjoy the best build quality to ensure a product that’ll last. With its US-made, 4.0 HP continuous duty motor and lifetime warranty, this is a treadmill that can provide decades of quality cardio when properly maintained.
Active older adults will appreciate the extraordinary cushioning offered by the L7 that keeps impact on joints and tendons minimal. You can further reduce impact using the power incline while simultaneously increasing effort and targeting muscle groups. If you have mobility issues and are seeking a treadmill capable of the facilitation of your limitations, The L7 is built to help you avoid injury, exercise longer, and reach fitness goals more effectively. So, is it more expensive? Yes, but the many benefits and attention to detail are worth it if you have the money to spend.
|Incline||0 — 15%|
|Running Area||20 x 58|
|Top Speed||12 MPH|
|Weight Capacity||400 LBS|
|Dimensions||76″ L x 35″ W x 58″ H|
|Warranty||Lifetime Frame, Motor, Deck; 5 Years Electronics & Parts; 1 Year Labor|
What to Look for When Shopping for the Best Senior Treadmill
Exactly who is a senior citizen? If you accept the Denny’s menu definition, seniors are at least 55 years old. My SilverSneakers participants have to be at least 65 to qualify. When recommending treadmills for seniors, I don’t try to fit the demographic into such a restrictive box. Everyone has unique workout needs and abilities despite reaching a specific age.
Let’s break down the main treadmill qualities you should look out for when browsing for the best treadmill for seniors.
No matter your age, treadmill cushioning is important for comfort and to reduce the chance of injury. It’s especially critical that active older adults are able to compensate for the loss of natural joint cushioning by way of cartilage. Cushioning is often poor with very cheap treadmills, so, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s especially important to consider orthopedic sneakers.
Mid-priced treadmills sometimes have orthopedic cushioning, but you can’t take this feature for granted. Some brands advertise a specific percentage of impact deflection compared with running on pavement. Variable cushioning is one of the best choices as it provides a firmer surface at the back of the track (where you push off) and a softer surface where you land up front. On high-end treadmills, you can expect excellent shock deflection, with Landice, Precor and Star Trac being among the most elite treadmill brands known for top-of-the-line cushioning.
One of the most beneficial tools I share with my seniors who struggle with joint issues is treadmill incline that simulates walking uphill. It naturally shifts your body weight to reduce pressure on your knees.
Treadmill incline is effective and popular for calorie burning and muscle toning. By walking on an incline, you can burn calories more than twice as quickly compared with walking at zero degrees. You can also work on your muscle tone since each incline setting recruits your muscles in different ways. A small minority of treadmills have dramatic maximum slopes, but most home treadmills for this year have maximum power inclines of 10-20%.
Most home treadmills are built with short handrails. When consulting my seniors on treadmill shopping, I always stress the importance of long handrails. Sometimes these machines are advertised as medical treadmills or hospital treadmills, a high-end example of which is the LifeSpan TR8000 Medical Treadmill.
Concerned about losing your balance? You should choose a machine with an emergency stop cord (sometimes called safety lanyards) too, so, if you slip, the track will stop moving.
A few treadmill brands such as Cybex manufacture cardio machines especially for trainees with low vision and other physical and cognitive issues. Examples of modifications on these treadmills are high-contrast track coloring and raised console icons.
Find Your New Treadmill
Treadmills featured on this page are my top picks for seniors, but another category on our site might lead you to an even better match. Other relevant categories worth exploring include best treadmills for home use, best walking treadmills, or our list of top treadmills on the market categorized by price.
Additional Treadmill Resources
- How to Fix Common Treadmill Problems
- Treadmill Motors: What You Need to Know
- List of Treadmill Brands
- List of Treadmills
- Treadmil Buyer’s Guide
- History of The Treadmill
About the Author
Jessica is a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who also holds her MBA with a focus in internet marketing. When she’s not working with clients, she’s usually at her local YMCA where she teaches classes for all ages from seniors in the Silver Sneakers group all the way to college and high school students in high intensity interval training, endurance weightlifting, and steady state cardio.
Frequently Asked Questions
IS IT SAFE FOR SENIORS TO USE TREADMILLS?
Generally speaking, brisk walking using a treadmill is an excellent way for seniors to keep active. In as little as a half hour, daily physical recommendations can be met. It's advisable to speak with your doctor regarding specific limitations or concerns.
HOW FAR SHOULD A SENIOR WALK ON THEIR TREADMILL EVERY DAY?
It's recommended seniors achieve take at least 2,000 steps every day, and this is a great starting point. It translates to around a miles and can be broken up throughout the day.
HOW CAN A SENIOR REDUCE IMPACT ON JOINTS WHEN USING A TREADMILL?
The first step is to find a treadmill with built-in shock absorption features like the many excellent options featured in this article. Aside from that, there are other tips that make a big difference including incorporating posture exercises into your weekly routine, shopping for shoes designed with a low heel-to-toe drop, and always warming up prior to exercise.