The Best Cushioned Treadmills of 2023: Shock Absorption for Comfortable Fitness

woman running on treadmill

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When it comes to low-impact fitness, you might wonder what's best in the debate of ellipticals vs. treadmills? Often, physical therapists will recommend elliptical training for anyone getting into fitness or recovering from injury. But for runners and walkers, the act of gliding might sound like a total bore. If that's you, there is another option: cushioned treadmills.

The Best Cushioned Treadmills - Our Top Picks

If you've ever been to a treadmill studio class, you have likely encountered a padded treadmill. These machines are the best treadmills for running thanks to high-quality shock absorption. The best cushioned treadmills will reduce the pounding and your chance of injury. In addition to other preventative methods like choosing the best supplements and practicing muscle recovery techniques, a cushioned treadmill will protect your joints as you train. The ACTIVE team found some incredibly luxurious options for anyone looking to get fit without strain. Here, we get into the nitty gritty of six of the best (and cushiest!) treadmills on the market.

Why Trust Us?'s editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

Best Cushioned Treadmill Overall - Sole Fitness F63

Sole F63


  • Dimensions: 35"L x 82"W x 66"H
  • Weight: 254 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 325 lbs.


The Sole Fitness F63 offers a super comfortable ride for both walkers and runners. Reviewers had such limited soreness after a hard effort that they didn't even need to break out their massage guns post-workout. Seriously, this really is a luxury treadmill at an affordable price. The actual treadmill experience cannot be beaten, and it is a great option for people with hip, knee, or foot pain who will benefit from a very cushy and smooth platform and belt. Plus, this treadmill is fully customizable. Use the built-in speakers to connect your phone to play your personal playlists. Connect your tablet or other devices to watch your shows or follow a workout. You can even purchase a studio subscription membership to choose treadmill classes.

But, as with most sturdy machines, this is a beast to move around. It's big and heavy and will require some strength and patience to get to the right spot in your home. But once it's set up, it will not disappoint. Our favorite part? The motor and frame come with a lifetime warranty.

What We Like

  • Quality treadmill for the price point
  • Lifetime warranty on the motor and frame
  • Folds up easily

What We Don't Like

  • It takes up a lot of space
  • Awkward and heavy to move
  • Complicated to put together

BUY: Sole Fitness F63

Best Treadmill for Walking - Echelon Stride

Echelon Stride


  • Dimensions: 69"L x 31"W X 49"H
  • Weight: 156 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs


The Echelon Stride is a versatile treadmill with maximum impact absorption. It boasts a low profile, automatic folding for easy storage, and connectivity to help you track your progress.

For walkers, it's a dream thanks to the huge variety of courses filmed around the world. You feel like you are actually hiking some of the most awesome trails on Earth. Just remember, you need your own tablet and an Echelon membership to access this perk. Power walkers will love that the incline goes up to a 10% grade. Runners, don't be turned away just because we love this for our walking friends. This treadmill goes up to 12 miles per hour, which will work for most people's hard efforts.

Plus, if you are short on space, this nimble treadmill will fold down to about 10 inches thick, making it possible to store in a closet or under a bed. Perhaps because of its small size, it can be a little unsteady at higher speeds. Still, this is a great treadmill, especially for walkers.

What We Like

  • Plush, impact-absorbing, and spacious deck
  • Easy to fold (in just 3 steps) and store
  • Amazing workouts, including more than 40 daily live classes

What We Don't Like

  • It's bring your own screen
  • The Echelon membership is an additional monthly fee

BUY: Echelon Stride

Best Cushioned Treadmill For Home - NordicTrack EXP 7i

Nordictrack Exp 7i


  • Dimensions: 77.3" L x 35.3" W x 59.6" H
  • Weight: 222 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.


The NordicTrack EXP 7i gives you a lot of bang for your buck. We were impressed by just how comfortable it was to run on; it's sturdy, quiet, and absorbs impact with every step. This is as close to having a studio treadmill in your own home as you will get. Plus, it folds and is fairly easy to store if you don't want to have it out on display in your living room.

The high-definition touchscreen is an awesome feature and sets this machine apart from others in a similar price category. With an iFit membership, you will get access to workouts and courses designed and led by elite runners. The auto adjusting technology will move the treadmill for you while you concentrate on doing the work. Overall, we loved walking and running on this model.

What We Like

  • 7" HD touchscreen monitor
  • Studio sessions, trail runs, and race courses that adjust your speed and incline automatically
  • Soft and cushiony ride
  • Fairly easy to assemble

What We Don't Like

  • Classes and studio sessions require a monthly iFit membership
  • Software can be glitchy—occasionally the workouts are not synced correctly
  • Requires two people for assembly

BUY: NordicTrack EXP 7i

Best Cushioned Treadmill Under $1,000 - ProForm City L6

Proform City L6


  • Dimensions: 70.25"L x 29"W x 44.5"H
  • Weight: 125 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.


We really could not believe a treadmill with such great shock absorption would come in under $1,000. ProForm's goal is to make products that are comfortable and make working out enjoyable, and the City L6 treadmill does just that. We were equally impressed that this budget-friendly machine incorporates auto adjusting that syncs to the workout you pick from the iFit app.

The treadmill also folds and has a small footprint compared to the others on this list. Be forewarned, you won't get an option to increase the incline on this treadmill. There are speed controls, but it only reaches eight miles per hour.

What We Like

  • Auto adjusting technology lets you focus on the workout while your trainer controls the effort
  • Amazing shock absorption
  • Even with the iFit subscription, it's very affordable
  • Folds easily for storage

What We Don't Like

  • Low weight capacity
  • Must have an iFit subscription membership to access classes and courses
  • Does not have incline options
  • Loud belt

BUY: ProForm City L6

Best Cushioned Treadmill for Beginners - Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT

Horizon 7.4 AT


  • Dimensions: 76"L x 37"W x 63"H
  • Weight: 318 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs.


This is one tough treadmill. The Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT boasts a rugged frame that will last years even with multiple users—and has a lifetime warranty to prove it. Despite its sturdiness, it folds like a charm and can be stored between workouts. It's great for hard-effort runs thanks to the bouncy, cushioned deck and wide and long running surface. Truly, this is great for all levels, but beginners will love how user-friendly and intuitive this machine is.

Our favorite part is that it syncs with almost any training app so you can choose the studio sessions and metrics tracking you prefer. And if you are a little intimidated at the thought of doing your own assembly, Horizon Fitness offers "white glove service" to get you set up in a flash. Finally, if you hate it (you won't), return it within 30 days for a full refund.

What We Like

  • Use the training app of your choice
  • Steady, impact-absorbing, spacious, and durable
  • Lifetime warranty on frame and motor

What We Don't Like

  • You need your own tablet or phone
  • Heavy and bulky machine
  • Reviewers were not impressed with the speed of customer service

BUY: Horizon Fitness 7.4 AT

Best Budget Cushioned Treadmill - Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Folding Auto-Incline Smart Treadmill

Premium Folding Auto-Incline Smart Treadmill


  • Dimensions: 63"L X 26.2"W X 50.2"H
  • Weight: 112 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs.


Sunny Health & Fitness products are known to delight customers with high-quality, budget-friendly options. The smooth and quiet Premium Folding Auto-Incline Smart Treadmill lives up to that standard. For the price, you really get a lot. The shock-absorbing belt will ease the impact on your joints, making walking and jogging comfortably for almost everybody. It's light, folds and stores easily has smart tracking features, and is fun to use. Because it's so light, it's not as sturdy as heavier, pricier models. For this reason, we don't recommend it for runners. Its highest speed is nine miles per hour, and it feels a little shaky at that top speed. That said, power walkers who want to mix in brief spurts of jogging will not have problems.

Reviewers were especially impressed with how easy it is to set up. Compared to some of the other app options, the SunnyFit app is motivating and user-friendly—plus their certified fitness trainers are likable and there is guaranteed to be a personality type that will mesh with your style. Overall, this is a great basic treadmill.

What We Like

  • Easy on joints, very comfortable
  • Great app with workouts and fitness tracking
  • Quick and simple setup
  • 15 levels of incline
  • Really good price

What We Don't Like

  • Only goes up to 9 mph
  • Limited warranty—3 years on the frame and 180 days on other components

BUY: Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Folding Auto-Incline Smart Treadmill

What to Look for in a Cushioned Treadmill

When you are trying to find the best cushioned treadmill for you, keep in mind that there will be more to consider than how bouncy it is—though that's important. Think about the size of the machine, the cost, and what features will motivate you to use it. Here are a few tips to help your decision-making process:

Intended Use

The kind of treadmill you need will vary based on how you want to use it. Meaning, someone who is planning to walk 30 minutes a day has different needs than a couple of training for a marathon. Walkers should pay attention to the quality of the frame, how much cushion the platform has, and ease of use. In addition to a sturdy frame and good impact absorption, power walkers might want the ability to adjust the incline. Runners will want all of the above plus the ability to increase the treadmill's speed beyond eight miles per hour.


Treadmills in general range from $400 to $3,000. The higher the price tag, the more bells and whistles, and reliability. But even in the $500 range, you'll be able to find a treadmill with ample shock absorption and a good amount of features. These budget-friendly options might be limited in terms of incline and may have quirks (like a squeaky belt or a little jiggle at higher speeds). If that doesn't bother you, or you are using the treadmill for walking only, then press the buy button on that steal of a deal. Treadmills in the middle price range will have inclining ability, good speed options, durability, and a smooth ride. If you plan to use this to jog or run, it's a good idea to look for something $1,000 and up. Anything higher than $2,000 will be a great investment. Just pick a model with a lifetime warranty on the motor and frame to protect your purchase.


Once you figure out where you want to use your treadmill, you can decide on how large of a machine the space can handle. Take measurements, compare them to the specs, and take into consideration how much room you need to move freely. If you're in an apartment or a place without a designated home gym, you might want to think about a treadmill that folds easily for storage purposes.


Nowadays, treadmills aren't just endless hamster wheels of doom, they come with fitness tracking add-ons, studio classes, and videos of epic trails around the world. If you are someone who needs to be entertained while logging miles, you will probably want a treadmill with all these features. Your workouts will be fun, and the ability to monitor your progress will be motivation to keep you going.

FAQs About Cushioned Treadmills

Is cushioning important in treadmills?

Cushioning on your treadmill is very important. Running, and even walking, puts stress on your joints, and you need the proper support to keep your body healthy. If you have injuries, stiffness, tightness, or sensitivities in your hips, knees, calves, or feet, then looking for a treadmill with adequate padding is essential.

How can I make my treadmill more comfortable?

To make your treadmill more comfortable, make sure you purchase one that will have enough space for your stride, your arm swing, and width. Once it's in your possession, and you're ready to roll, set the incline at anywhere between 1% and 3%. Running at a slightly elevated grade will mimic a flat surface of outdoor walking and running more closely than zero.

Is it better to use a treadmill with or without shoes?

Spare your feet the stress and always wear shoes when you're using the treadmill. In fact, invest in a good pair of walking or running shoes for your treadmill activity. Remember, even with the cushiest, most comfortable treadmill, you are still engaging in high-impact activity and the support of shoes will go a long way in keeping your joints healthy.

What treadmill is best for knees?

Treadmills with shock-absorbing cushions are your best bet for protecting knees. Having a little bit of padding will prevent jolting impact, which will make for a more gentle walk or run. You might also want to consider a curved treadmill if you are using it primarily for running. The angle of the curve on these treadmills helps mitigate some of the impacts you might find on flatter surfaces.

About the Author

Ali Nolan

Ali Nolan is the author of Master the Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide for Women. She is the former features editor for Runner’s World and has written for Women’s Running, Self, Sport Literate, and Livestrong. Ali has been featured as a running expert on Good Morning America with Amy Robach, as well as the podcasts 8020 Endurance, I'll Have Another with Lindsey Hein, and Greenletes.

See more from Ali

Ali Nolan is the author of Master the Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide for Women. She is the former features editor for Runner’s World and has written for Women’s Running, Self, Sport Literate, and Livestrong. Ali has been featured as a running expert on Good Morning America with Amy Robach, as well as the podcasts 8020 Endurance, I'll Have Another with Lindsey Hein, and Greenletes.

See more from Ali

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