Treadmill for the Elderly

Visitors of the site often contact me about some treadmill advice and I will share those inquiries and my responses from time to time. This week I had a nice lady write in for some help in choosing a treadmill for her elderly father.

She wrote:

Hi TM Guru! Thanks for your site by the way… it has been very very helpful. I am shopping for a moderately priced (maybe in the 800-1200 price range) treadmill for my 86 year old father in law to use. It needs to be SIMPLE to use with clear and easy start/off, faster/slower, and include up/down. If there was one that would be “perfect” we would be willing to spend more.. but this treadmill will be very lightly used. He walks slow and only at a slight incline. Your thoughts or any advice would be greatly appreciated! ~Catherine Deep Pittsburgh, PA

Here is my response:

Hi Catherine,

I’m glad you’re getting some use out of the site! So glad to hear that. For your father I am going to recommend the Sole F80 (2012 model) or a LifeSpan treadmill (the TR 1200i, TR 3000i, TR 4000i, or TR 5000i, depending on your budget).

Since you’re father won’t be using it very much, there’s not a lot of sense in spending 3000+ dollars on a treadmill for him. However, it all comes down to preference. If you’re looking for something that will last a long time and won’t give you any trouble, you will want to go for a higher end machine (True, Precor, LifeFitness). But if you want a machine that just works, and risk running into some parts issues in a few years, look at lower-end machines (nordictrack, proform, etc.)

I recommend LifeSpan because they’re not very pricey but they have excellent customer service which is so rare these days. So if anything does happen, they’ll take good care of you. I can’t say the same for NordicTrack or Proform (ICON Fitness owns NordicTrack, Proform, Smooth, Horizon, and more and their customer service is garbage!).

If you’re looking on the cheaper side, I’d recommend the NordicTrack Commercial 1750. It’s popular because it is affordable and performs well.

If you’re willing to spend a little extra and get a real quality machine, check out Precor, True, Landice, and LifeFitness. I really like the LifeFitness Club series but it is 5500 dollars.

Link to Sole F80 reviews.

Link to NordicTrack Commercial 1750 reviews.

Link to LifeSpan treadmill reviews.

Link to LifeFitness Club Series treadmill reviews.

I hope that’s given you a few ideas. Maybe look them over, narrow it down to 2-4 treadmills and I’ll help you with a final decision.

Take care!

TM Guru

While it is becoming harder and harder to find a new treadmill that isn’t over-loaded with fancy bells and whistles, most do a good job at keeping the basics simple. Adjusting the speed and incline should never be very complicated but I can see other features like iFitLive confusing some elderly couple. The problem is that some brands will not release a new treadmill that doesn’t have those features simply because they have to do so in order to compete.

So like it or not, you’re probably going to get some fancy bells and whistles with any treadmill newer than 2008. But, whether you choose to make those features part of your workout is totally up to you.