Those of us with bad knees need to incorporate cardio into our everyday routines in smart and safe ways.
Low-impact workouts can be just as effective as high-impact workouts, especially when exercising arthritic knees. With the right treadmill, you have full control over your workout's intensity and can make any needed adjustments in seconds.
We’ve compiled a list of the best treadmills on the market that anyone with knee and joint problems can trust.
Table of Contents
- Treadmills for Bad Knees Compared
- Are Treadmills Bad for Your Knees?
- Considerations for Choosing Quality Treadmills for Bad Knees
- 7 Best Treadmills for Bad Knees Reviewed
- Best Treadmill Workouts for Bad Knees
- People Also Ask (FAQs)
Treadmills for Bad Knees Compared
22 x 55 in
22 x 62 in
49 x 15.5 in
21 x 63 in
20 x 55 in
44 x 19.5 in
20 x 60 in
0.5 - 10 mph
Are Treadmills Bad for Your Knees?
Excessive use of any piece of workout equipment can overwork your knees and possibly lead to injury. It’s important to gradually introduce new workouts to your exercise routine, which is why a low-impact treadmill workout is often the best first course of action.
Walking or jogging on a treadmill can increase blood flow to the cartilage in your knees, delivering nutrients to keep the cartilage healthy. Regular workouts help promote weight loss and strengthen the muscles around your knees. Treadmill workouts can also be done in the comfort of your own home.
Not all treadmills are well-suited for knee issues. To simplify the vetting process for you, we’re spotlighting seven of the best treadmills for bad knees.
Considerations for Choosing Quality Treadmills for Bad Knees
Shock Absorption & Deck Cushioning
A treadmill’s ability to absorb shock with each stride is paramount, especially when it comes to improving the health of your knees. Deck cushioning serves a similar purpose by acting as a buffer between you and the treadmill's belt.
Deck Length & Belt Size
Deck length typically varies between 45 to 60 inches and directly impacts a treadmill’s belt size. When narrowing down on the right size options for you, your height is an important factor to consider. Individuals who are upwards of 6’0” tall have longer strides and require more running surface.
Treadmills will include safety features such as handrails, a safety key, and an automatic slow start. These features are necessary for transitioning smoothly from one speed to another and maintaining stability. You can trust that treadmills with these features are designed to further reduce the risk of injuries.
Speed Range & Incline
It’s essential to invest in a treadmill that offers a flexible speed range to give you the option to walk at your leisure or set a new speed record. Some treadmills cap out at 8 mph, while others can reach 12 mph.
A treadmill’s maximum incline can vary from model to model in this same way. Increasing incline at slower speeds can be an effective way to exercise without excessively straining your knees.
Size vs. Space
We recommend finding a treadmill that complements your lifestyle while taking up just the right amount of physical space in your living quarters. Some models are designed to fold up in-between uses, which can be great for storing in smaller spaces.
The core components of a treadmill are the motor, console, and build quality. Treadmills will either have an AC or DC motor. AC motors tend to be the more powerful but noisier option of the two, which is why treadmills with a DC motor are typically preferable in a home.
A console is where you access the control features of the treadmill. With some models, a console will include features like a fan, USB port, and heart rate monitor.
Ease of Assembly
Assembling your treadmill isn’t as strenuous or time-consuming as you might have assumed. In most cases, a treadmill will arrive partially assembled with straightforward directions attached. A treadmill's set-up can likely be completed in an hour.
Most treadmill brands will offer standard warranty coverage for the frame, motor, parts, and labor. As a general rule, warranties for labor and parts should extend for at least two years; for the frame and motor, you should expect more extended warranties from 12 years to lifetime coverage.
A treadmill is an expensive investment, and this is true for the more affordable options as well. Finding an excellent quality treadmill with the right build and features for your lifestyle is crucial. You receive value for money when you invest in a treadmill.
7 Best Treadmills for Bad Knees Reviewed
1. NordicTrack T Series 6.5 S Treadmill
- This item benefits from an Extended 90 Day...
- Bring Home Interactive Personal Training...
- 10 % OneTouch incline control; 10 MPH SMART...
- SMART-Response Motor for effective speed,...
Best Home Treadmill For Bad Knees
22 x 55 in
Unfolded: 73 x 36 x 54 in
If you’re looking for a treadmill that fits into your home environment effortlessly, the NordicTrack T Series 6.5 S Treadmill is the best option.
This model is equipped with a Dual CardioGrip heart rate monitor, a one-touch control system, and a smart-response drive system. The technology and engineering features included make it easier to set new personal records and chart progress.
The Easy Lift Assist feature makes it easier to fold up the equipment when not in use. This is especially appealing to those of us looking for the right treadmill for our home. The SpaceSaver Design reduces the product’s bulkiness, so it can be stowed away without taking up excess space.
If you’re hesitant about exercising on treadmills and worry about injuring your knees, this model’s capabilities will give you peace of mind. The 22x55 inch belt is designed with FlexSelect cushioning, which further reduces shock and allows for a softer landing.
Those who purchase this model will also receive a 30-day free iFit trial membership. Because the NordicTrack model is outfitted with a backlit iFit display, you can join in on virtual exercises at any time. This bonus perk is great for gradually introducing treadmill workouts into your routine so that you don’t overstrain your knees.
2. 3G Cardio Elite
- Start with an upgraded, commercial Ortho Flex...
- The 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill gives...
- Simple and effective is the 3G Cardio motto....
- Enjoy your music through the built in...
Best Shock Absorbing Treadmill For Bad Knees
22 x 62 in
84 x 35.5 x 58 in
The 3G Cardio Elite treadmill is top of the range and equipped with an Ortho Flex Shock suspension system. This high-end product is well worth your investment because it is the best on the market for shock absorption.
The denser material and suspension system function for your benefit by creating a heavily cushioned platform. Not only is the belt constructed to absorb shock, but the belt is also oversized to allow you more space for movement, whether you’re walking or running.
At 4.0 horsepower, this treadmill’s motor is among the most robust top-rated products in this review. This model is also backed with a residential lifetime warranty for the motor and frame as well as two-year coverage for labor.
When it comes to maximum incline, speed, and user weight, this model offers heavy-duty capabilities. With a speed range of 0.5 to 12 mph and an incline of up to 15%, a user has the option to set a relaxed pace or take on a challenge.
The pre-programmed courses and fitness tests will add more variety to your everyday exercise routines. The one-touch speed and elevation settings allow you to make any necessary adjustments. Features like the built-in speakers and multi-speed fan are included for your comfort and enjoyment.
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400
- The 2.20-Peak HP drive system provides speeds...
- Designed for a max user weight of 220 lb....
- Easy folding mechanism and the soft drop...
- Handrail controls allow you to control speed,...
Best Folding Treadmill For Bad Knees
49 x 15.5 in
Unfolded: 62 x 25.5 x 50 in
0%, 2%, and 4.37%
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 treadmill is the most compact and adaptable model we have come across, which is why we regard it as the best folding treadmill for bad knees.
This treadmill's straightforward design is commendable. Other models on the market include functions that you might never use and come at high price points. The Sunny Health & Fitness model is the best value for money while offering various necessary and beneficial functions.
Users can reach speeds between 0.5 and 9 mph with three adjustable incline levels. The treadmill is designed with a folding mechanism and a soft drop system that safely unfolds the treadmill. Additional safety features include handrail controls and an emergency stop clip.
The shock absorption deck and lower incline options offer relief for users who experience pain when working out on a treadmill. An effective soft drop system is paired with built-in transportation wheels, so the treadmill is easy to move if necessary.
There are nine built-in workout programs as well as a manual mode option. Users can keep track of their progress by referring to the digital monitor, which displays the time, distance, calories burned, and heart rate. The 2.2 HP provides just the right amount of power.
4. HCI Fitness PhysioMill Rehabilitation
- Full Length Handrails Provide a Safe Walking...
- Step-Up only 6.25" onto a generous walking...
- Walk with confidence starting at 0.1 MPH in...
- Reverse the belt direction for rehabilitation...
Best Rehabilitation Treadmill For Bad Knees
21 x 63 in
81 x 30.5 x 54 in
A treadmill intended and specially-designed for rehabilitation purposes is an excellent option for anyone struggling with knee problems and looking for ways to exercise safely. The HCI Fitness PhysioMill Rehabilitation treadmill is the best option for rehabilitation treadmills on the market today.
The full-length handrails extend across the deck, ensuring that you will be stable and secure at all times. The step-up onto a treadmill can be uncomfortable for users if the deck is too tall, and this issue was taken into account when this treadmill was designed. You won’t strain your joints when stepping onto this model’s belt because of its low step-up design.
Users look for comfort and accessibility when scouting the market for the best treadmill. The large display is easy to read and keeps track of stats such as your speed and distance. This model has a weight capacity of 500 pounds and also offers a reverse belt mode for downhill walking.
This treadmill can be adapted to different clinical settings and is overall excellent quality. Safety features such as the dual emergency stop buttons, orthopedic walking belt, and handheld remote improve a user’s experience by giving them peace of mind.
5. Schwinn 810 Treadmill
- Blue backlit LCD display features 16 workout...
- Product dimensions – 69.1” L x 35.6” W...
- Soft Drop folding system that allows for your...
- Additional features include in-console...
20 x 55 in
69.1 x 56.7 x 35.6 in
The Schwinn 810 Treadmill joins our list of top-ranking products because of its high ratings among users.
This Schwinn model has been outfitted with 16 workout programs to give your workouts more variety. The technology also allows for two user profiles, making this treadmill a great option for home environments where multiple people will use the equipment.
One of the pitfalls of indoor running is that the scenery doesn’t change even as you add mileage. Schwinn 810 users can access three free virtual trails through the Explore the World app on the blue backlit LCD display screen. You have the option to unlock more trails when you purchase an Explore the World subscription.
This allows you to have a more immersive, enjoyable experience while walking, jogging, or running.
The SoftTrack cushioning system and soft drop folding system are integral parts of this treadmill’s design. You can easily move and store the product when not in use. Additional features include integrated heart rate contact grips, in-console speakers, and USB charging port.
The engineers paid attention to small but essential details that users benefit from during every use. This includes the media shelf for storing your phone or tablet device, water bottle holders, and transport wheels.
6. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7857
- SHOCK ABSORPTION: Wide treadmill deck with...
- CAPABLE MOTOR: Walk and jog between 0.6 MPH...
- TRANSPORTATION WHEELS: This portable...
- USER-FRIENDLY CONSOLE: The simple design...
Best Treadmill For Seniors With Bad Knees
44 x 19.5 in
58 x 29 x 53 in
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7857 treadmill has a similar design as our top ranking HCI Fitness PhysioMill Rehabilitation model but is better suited for home environments. This Sunny Health & Fitness model is the best treadmill for seniors with bad knees for a few reasons.
When paired with the low rise deck, the shock absorption technology reduces the impact on your joints, regardless of how slowly or quickly you are moving. This model has a low maximum speed capacity, so users have the ability to build up to a brisk walk or jog depending on preference. You can adjust the speed at any point by using the buttons on the console.
Speaking of which, the console displays your duration, distance, and calories burned while using the treadmill. Users always have the option to personalize their workout goals by locating the mode button on the console.
Extensive handrails provide users with stability and full-control while exercising. The handlebars are padded with a thick material that contributes to an all-around comfortable grip. An emergency stop clip is a safety feature that works to the benefit of any user.
Transportation wheels are situated at the front of the treadmill. This addition is notable because it allows for convenient portability.
7. Horizon Fitness T303
- 60” 3-Zone cushioned deck for comfortable...
- Assembled Dimensions: 75" L x 34" W x 58" H |...
- Effortlessly store between workouts with...
- Included Components: Console, 2 Uprights,...
Largest Belt Deck
20 x 60 in
Unfolded: 75 x 34 x 58 in
0.5 - 10 mph
The Horizon Fitness T303 is the best treadmill on the market with the largest belt deck.
This treadmill is an excellent investment for users who value speed and an expansive running surface. The three-zone variable response cushioning design gives you the right amount of support.
As far as your exercise routine goes, this treadmill enables you to build your own HIIT workouts. While you have to change the speed and incline settings on other models manually, the Horizon Fitness model allows you to set preferred speed and incline levels for interval workouts.
You can place your phone or tablet device on the built-in device holder and stream music or video during your workout. The treadmill has Bluetooth connectivity so that you can listen to audio through stereo-quality speakers. Whether you’re participating in a virtual, instructor-led program or charting your own workout, the sound quality will be top-notch.
The motor is designed to have a quiet but powerful performance for a smooth and natural run. The rapid charge USB port is an amenity that all endurance runners need access to. The last thing you want is for your phone or tablet’s battery to deplete when you still have more miles to go.
Best Treadmill Workouts for Bad Knees
Incline intervals are great for taking a low-impact approach while burning calories. The key is to alternate between a “flat road” incline and a high incline. We recommend short interval spurts of two to five minutes at each incline level for about half an hour.
Especially for jogging and faster running, we recommend walking at a slow warm-up pace and low incline for five minutes and then raising the speed settings until you reach a comfortable pace. Follow up with a five minute cool-down to give your legs time to actively recover.
For Faster Running
When it comes to faster running, take the reverse approach to your walking workout. Maintain a low incline and choose different speed settings to alternate between. For speed intervals, a transition between a comfortable walk and a faster run for two to five minutes at a time.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Why do some sources say that running on a treadmill is actually bad for knees?
Not all treadmills are designed with shock absorption and durable belt material. Running on a treadmill that lacks these features can overstrain your knees, which is why it’s best to slowly incorporate low-impact workouts on a great quality treadmill.
What are the most popular and recommended treadmill brands that offer the best cushioning and shock absorption?
Schwinn, NordicTrack, 3G Cardio, Sunny Health & Fitness, and HCI Fitness are among the most popular treadmill brands. These brands construct their treadmills with particular attention to shock absorption and suspension systems.
Are there any health restrictions for using treadmills?
Depending on your individual circumstances, it may be necessary to consult a healthcare physician before beginning treadmill exercises. If approved, we recommend starting with low-impact workouts for short durations of time.
Are more expensive treadmills best for my bad knees?
An expensive treadmill outside of your budget isn’t your only option. You can find an affordable treadmill option that will work to your benefit, but you need to know which qualities to look for.
Is treadmill incline bad for my knees?
Increasing incline while also increasing speed can overstrain your knees, but increasing incline at a steady pace can strengthen your knees.
What else can one do to help knee problems?
If you have knee problems, we recommend that you consult a doctor. It’s necessary to give your knees adequate rest, elevate your legs, and stretch your limbs regularly.
Low-impact treadmill workouts may not cure your knee problems but can strengthen your legs. It’s important to invest in equipment that has been designed with durable and flexible material. The NordicTrack T Series 6.5 S Treadmill is the best model on the market for bad knees, but each of our top-ranked treadmills are also designed to exceed your highest expectations.