If you're trying to run more – or simply want to start running at all – get a treadmill. Even if you hate running. Seriously. A treadmill lets you set speed and grade, so you can push yourself harder and get in a more strenuous workout in a shorter amount of time than you can when jogging outside (unless you're used to pushing yourself on runs). And if you like to run, but can't find the time or keep making excuses, a treadmill is the antidote: It's always there in the other room, beckoning to you, practically begging you, and jumping on for just 10 minutes can have huge health benefits. (It's also more likely that after you've been running for 10 minutes, when the blood and oxygen are flowing and you feel the boost in energy, you'll keep going.) There's no excuse that it's raining, snowing, too hot, too cold, too windy, or too dark, and there's no driving to the gym, no suburban or urban streets to navigate, and no asking your wife to watch the kids. Basically, it's excuse-proof and almost too convenient not to use.
Yet the myth persists that treadmills are too expensive and cumbersome to buy unless you're a committed runner. Not true. Today, you can get a quality foldable treadmill made for running for less than $2,000 – a product option that didn't exist a few years ago. And if $2,000 sounds expensive, add up what you (and your spouse and possibly teenage kids) spend on gym memberships per year (not to mention gas). If that math isn't convincing by itself, then multiply your annual fees by more than a year, and $2,000 is nothing!
Our favorite treadmill is the Lifespan TR4000i, which is practically a steal at $1,700. The TR4000i is relatively small without being puny, and foldable so you can move it anywhere at any time without hassle or help. Despite being foldable – which used to be suitable only for walkers – the TR4000i is durable, stable, and solidly built for all speeds and grades of running. Better still, it comes with several features you wouldn't expect on an inexpensive treadmill, including a USB device that automatically stores your workout data and speakers that can blast tunes from your iPod when you plug it into the dashboard. [$1,700; lifespanfitness.com]