Running on a treadmill provides a lot of benefits to your physical and mental health. Treadmills of any size offer a range of speed and incline settings suitable for people at every level of fitness. But the more options available, the more expensive the machine. Well, that’s not always the case! You can find a good treadmill for your home use at less than $500, with all the basic features you need and then some.
Like any aerobic exercise, running strengthens the heart and different muscles in the body. Compared to outdoor running where you can’t control the hardness and inclines of the surface, treadmill running reduces the impact on your knees and ankles, preventing injuries. A treadmill provides all the benefits of running (or walking) from the comfort of your own home.
To find the best affordable treadmill for your purpose, it’s important that you know this early that these cheaper models are limited in size. But if you’re around 6-feet or below, you may find the best fit for you in the list below.
Best Cheap Treadmills (Under $500)
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Top 6 Best Treadmills Under $500
Sunny Health & Fitness offers a range of home fitness equipment for every budget. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 Smart Treadmill combines functionality and durability with a budget-friendly price. It is on the higher end of our price range, at just a little under $500, but this model is surely a cut above the rest of our picks in terms of smart features and customizable settings.
The SF-T7515 treadmill comes with most of the features you can find on a model twice its price. It boasts a large, backlit LCD monitor that shows basic metrics such as the distance, time, speed, calories, heart rate, and incline so you can track your progress while you run. You can set a countdown to reach your goal for the time, speed, and calories. You can also automatically adjust the incline from 12 different levels (1% to 12%) with the auto incline option.
Like most other treadmills in this class, this Sunny Health & Fitness model offers a speed range from 1 to 8 mph and a good sized running deck 16.5 inches wide and 49.5 inches long. It’s recommended for users up to 240 pounds. The handrails have built-in pulse sensors to easily monitor and maintain your heart rate while running. This treadmill even has Bluetooth connectivity and 3mm jacks with built-in speakers and microphone so you can sync it to your phone and listen to music or answer calls from the treadmill. You also get a device holder where you can place your phone or tablet to watch workout videos or stream movies.
When you finish your workout, this treadmill folds easily for storage. The soft-drop hydraulic mechanism allows you to safely unfold the treadmill hands-free. The biggest drawback, however, is the noise this treadmill makes. The unit is guaranteed a three-year warranty, but a common complaint about Sunny Health & Fitness is its customer service.
• Easy-to-read large display
• Lots of customizable settings
• Automatic incline options
• Bluetooth compatibility
• Three-year warranty
• Somewhat noisy
• Poor customer service
XTERRA is another great option for affordable exercise equipment perfect for any fitness level. The XTERRA Fitness TR150 Treadmill is an Amazon bestseller for a reason. It’s powered by a 2.25HP motor with a speed range of 0.5 to 10 mph. The durable heavy gauge steel frame is guaranteed for a lifetime.
This treadmill features a 5-inch LCD screen that tracks your workout progress including the speed, distance, time, calories, and heart rate, with the pulse sensors on the hand grips on both sides of the handrail. It has 12 preset workout programs to provide variety, and three manual incline settings, which means you have to set your desired incline level prior to your workout. The easy access speed keys allow you to change the speed with a push of a button.
This treadmill even has a bookrack at the center and a bottle holder on each side. The XTRASoft cushioned deck technology provides maximum impact absorption to protect your joints. The easy pull knob releases the deck to fold or unfold for storage.
However, the most common issues with this XTERRA treadmill are the noise and incline settings. For a compact model, it can be pretty loud, but you can’t really expect more than that for its price. Customers also note that the incline levels are not too different from one another that it almost feels like running on a flat surface. Overall, it still provides almost everything you’ll need for light to moderate use.
• Powerful motor offers wide speed range
• Soft cushioned deck for reduced impact
• Easy-to-read display
• Can be noisy
• Manual incline
Our winner in portability for budget treadmills is the SereneLife SLFTRD213 Folding Treadmill. It’s lightweight and compact at only 59 pounds. When it’s folded for storage, it only measures 21.65 inches long, 24.4 inches wide, and 46.4 inches high. However, as you can expect, compact size also means it has a smaller than average space for running, with a 15.7” x 39.3″ belt size.
This space-saving treadmill features a small 3-inch LCD monitor that shows basic running metrics such as the speed, time, distance, calories, and pulse, with a built-in hand grip pulse sensor. It’s also Bluetooth compatible so you can listen to your workout playlist while you run. You can also integrate the machine with compatible fitness apps via Bluetooth to easily track your progress.
The unit comes equipped with 12 pre-set workout programs that you can adjust. It’s useful for both running and walking, with a speed range between 0.6 mph and 6 mph. You can also change the speed to 3, 4, or 5 mph with the quick-push buttons on the console. For experienced runners or those looking for higher intensity workouts, this treadmill’s maximum speed may be too slow for you. You should look for a model with top speed of at least 8 mph.
Considering its lightweight build, this treadmill is not made for heavy use. You can expect less in terms of sturdiness and durability of the frame and running deck, although it has a maximum weight capacity of 265 pounds. The strong chassis and nonslip running belt helps reduce the impact on your joints and prevent injuries. You can also manually adjust the incline in four levels.
The hydraulic system allows the unit to fold easily. Overall, this SereneLife treadmill does as well as you can expect with its size and price. It’s a great choice if you just want to get your steps in or break a little sweat without leaving home, but if you’re on the taller side or want a more rigorous training, then this treadmill may not be for you.
• Lightweight and compact
• Bluetooth capability
• Easy assembly and storage
• Maximum speed of 6 mph
• Short running belt length
Another one of our picks from Sunny Health & Fitness is the SF-T4400 Folding Treadmill. The first thing you may notice is its sleek and clean look that’s almost similar to higher end models. This treadmill comes with some solid features at a budget-friendly price. This treadmill features a maximum user weight of 220 pounds, although the running deck is quite narrow at only 15.5 inches wide and 49 inches long.
The SF-T4400 offers a wide speed range of 0.5 to 9 mph, perfect for walking, jogging, high intensity running, or a variation of speed levels for interval training. It also comes with nine pre-set programs for added variety. You can monitor your progress in speed, time, distance, calories, and pulse rate on the large LCD screen. You can also choose the speed level from 2, 4, or 6 mph using the quick push buttons on the handrail controls. You have a bottle holder on the side and a device holder to place your phone or tablet where you can watch a training video on the Sunny Fit app while you work out. One thing this model lacks is Bluetooth connectivity, which is available in similar units above.
The manual incline is adjustable in three different levels, which isn’t that great but is a usual feature in treadmills at this orice range. The treadmill has a foldable soft drop design, so that you can unfold the treadmill hands-free and it won’t slam hard onto your floor. It’s a nifty machine to have for those who want to get a good run at any time without sacrificing valuable floor space in your home.
• Large speed range of 0.5 to 9 mph
• Convenient device holder
• Large, user-friendly display
• Only three incline levels
• No Bluetooth connectivity
The Goplus 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill takes portability to the next level with the option to fold down completely to fit under your desk. This allows you to get walking even while working on your standing desk. It’s incredibly lightweight and compact too, at only 70 pounds. When folded down, it’s only five inches high so it can fit under the bed, sofa, or other furniture when not in use. What makes it even better is the surprisingly large speed range from 0.5 mph to 8 mph, powered by a 2.25HP motor.
As you can expect, this treadmill features a smaller running area of 16 by 40 inches. The five-layer textured belt improves shock absorption to protect your knees, legs, ankles, and back. The clear LED display shows the time, speed, distance, and calories alternately so you can monitor your progress in real time.
The unit also comes with a remote control (battery not included) that allows you to operate the treadmill easily, adjust the speed, or stop the movement while using it under the desk. In addition, it has Bluetooth compatibility so you can connect it to your phone and play your favorite music to run to. You can also sync the device to an app on your phone, allowing you to record your exercise data and gauge your progress.
One of the drawbacks to this treadmill, however, is you cannot adjust the incline and it just lays flat on the floor. When the handrail is unfolded, you can use the device holder to prop up your phone and watch videos. However, it also lacks pulse sensors which are very handy in keeping track of your health. An external fitness device may be used for this purpose. Since the display is pretty hard to read while you’re moving, you may opt to monitor your stats on your phone app anyway.
All in all, this treadmill offers a great way to keep moving when you’re busy working from home, while still giving you the option to train harder any time you can. It folds easily and slips under furniture. It’s pretty tough to beat it in portability, but it does make some sacrifice in durability of the frame and customizable options.
• Lightweight and easy to store
• Can use under the desk while working
• Remote control operation
• Good speed range for its size
• Bluetooth compatibility
• No pulse sensors
• No available incline adjustment
• Not the most sturdy treadmill
Last on our list but definitely not the least in smart features is the Weslo Cadence G5.9i Treadmill. It has an average-sized running belt of 16 by 50 inches, suitable for people under 6-feet height. It can accommodate users up to 275 pounds.
This treadmill features a large LCD display shows real time stats of your time, distance, and speed. It has a wide range of speed, from 1 to 10 mph, which you can easily adjust with one push of a button on the console. There are also six pre-set programs you can try if you have a desired intensity or specific weight loss goals. However, the pulse sensor comes as a thumb grip which can be inaccurate.
The best thing about the Weslo Cadence is it’s compatible with the iFIT app. Connect your treadmill to your phone via Bluetooth and access all the benefits of the iFIT membership you get for free for 30 days. Afterwards, you will need to pay a monthly or yearly fee to have full access of on-demand studio classes and stream live trainer-led global programs where the trainer can adjust your treadmill settings remotely. You can manually adjust the incline between two levels, which is the absolute bare minimum you can ask for.
Another cool thing about this model is the device holder is not in the way of the screen so that you can still see your stats below your phone or tablet. The Comfort Cell cushioning technology protects your joints and the SpaceSaver design allows you to fold the machine and store it out of the way. Overall, this treadmill is a great choice for those who do not consider the incline as an important aspect of their running workouts. It has an excellent range of speed to give you a lot of variety even without the iFIT membership.
• Wide speed range from 1 to 10 mph
• Large running belt for its price
• Bluetooth compatibility
• With free iFIT membership for 30 days
• Inaccurate heart rate monitor
• Only two incline leaves
Types of Treadmill
There are two main types of treadmills, motorized or electronic and non-motorized or manual treadmills. The main difference, of course, is that the former requires electricity to power the machine. Treadmills can also be classified depending on the size, design, and purpose. For example, portable models are ideal for home use, while commercial-grade models are only typically seen at the gym. In this article, we only included electronic treadmills under $500.
The electronic or motorized treadmills are generally larger and sturdier than the manual type, although the sizes and designs still vary greatly. Electronic treadmills are more common today even in the price range below $500. Although they may be heavier, noisier, and more expensive, they have a lot of advantages over manual treadmills. With a motorized model, a motor moves the belt and sets the pace when you walk or run.
You have options to set your own speed, incline, or resistance and even adjust them while you are still walking or running. This type also features a digital monitor where you can track your running metrics like the speed, time, distance, and calories. Some models even have Bluetooth capabilities so you can connect the treadmill to other devices and track your workouts from a mobile app.
However, the disadvantages include the need for electricity. You need to place the device near an electrical outlet and account for its power consumption, especially if you use it for longer workouts. There is also the safety hazard when using an electric treadmill. Since the belt moves on its own, there are risks of falling or stumbling in case you lose concentration.
Manual treadmills don’t use a motor to move the belt, but rather the user’s action of moving across the running deck. This requires the user to expend more energy constantly to retain the same speed. You control the speed by exerting more effort instead of trying to keep up with a running belt. This also reduces your chances of getting hurt because the belt only moves when you walk or run on it.
This type of treadmill usually comes with a small display that shows basic metrics such as the speed, time, and distance. It is also very affordable, quiet, and portable. It doesn’t run on electricity, so you can use it any time and anywhere with enough space. And it doesn’t even take up a lot of space since most models are foldable with slim decks, such as the SF-T1407M below. Some may even come without handrails so they simply slip under your desk.
The main disadvantage is that you can’t set a specific speed you want to run at and the only way you can change it is to exert more effort physically, although more expensive models (like the SF-T7723) may offer additional magnetic resistance. You also cannot change the incline, which is only fixed at one angle.
For home use, you’ll probably want a treadmill you can store away if space is a primary concern to you. Foldable treadmills can be either electronic or manual but are usually on the smaller side. To save valuable space, the running deck folds up (or the handrails fold down) so that when folded, it can easily fit in a corner of the room up against your wall (or under a desk or furniture) when not in use. The only disadvantage of a foldable treadmill is that it’s typically designed to be compact so the belt size is too small for taller people. Foldable treadmills under $500 also typically feature lower quality display and less sturdy construction compared to heavy-duty models with a more permanent placement.
These treadmills use high-powered motors for use in a commercial setting. Compared to portable models, commercial treadmills are generally larger, heavier, and more durable as they are designed to handle longer hours of operation from multiple users per day. They often come with an interactive digital screen with heart rate monitor, a larger running deck, and more incline settings and workout programs. While you usually only see them in gyms, there’s nothing stopping you from getting one of these heavy-duty treadmills for your own home gym, except of course the expensive price.
Benefits of Treadmills
Running is among the most popular fitness activities in the world. With a good treadmill under $500, you can get all of its health benefits without even stepping outside.
Running regularly is a great cardiovascular exercise. It helps strengthen the heart and increase the circulation of blood, which transports oxygen throughout your body. It gets your heart pumping hard, which can help reduce the risks of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Better heart health then allows you to work harder for longer, getting better and better results after each run.
Running (as well as pace walking) with proper form helps build leg muscles and improve core strength. Any aerobic exercise releases endorphins, a hormone that naturally relieves stress and improves moods. Overall, regular cardio exercise like running or walking on a treadmill paired with a balanced diet and adequate sleep can help with weight loss and building muscle, improving both the physical and mental health.
While running outside provides amazing views and ambiance, it has a high impact on the body. Running on hard surfaces increases the risks of injuries and can lead to back, knee, and ankle problems over time. Treadmills, however, reduce this impact with cushioned running decks for shock absorption.
Treadmills give you full control of your exercise, including the speed and incline you want to run at. Beginners to experienced runners can benefit from the various workout programs offered even by some low-cost treadmills. You can run for as long as you want at any time that you want (or as little as you can any time that you can), and all your running stats will be tracked automatically.
Finally, investing in a good treadmill under $500 saves you a lot from spending on a monthly gym membership, even more so if you’re going to use it at home with other members of your household. It also saves you time you might spend going to and from the gym. You can even watch anything you like on your device while running.
Buying Guide For Affordable Treadmills
To choose a treadmill for your home use, you must first consider your body’s condition and what fitness goals you’re trying to achieve. When looking for a cheaper treadmill, in particular, you need to make sure you choose a model that has all the features that you need. This includes the speed range, incline levels, belt size, and other features such as a digital monitor, interactive display, and even Bluetooth capabilities.
Depending on how you intend to use your treadmill, you need to consider the speed range it offers. If you’re going to use your treadmill mainly for walking, a good speed range would be from 0.5 to 4 mph. You can find a treadmill or walkstation specifically for this purpose. It’s usually small enough to fit under furniture or under a standing desk so you can get your steps in while working. Anything from a brisk walk, light jog, or a faster pace, then you need a treadmill with a higher speed limit. For intermediate or advanced runners, look for a treadmill with a maximum speed of at least 7.5 to 8 mph.
Running or walking at an incline gets your heart rate up even at a lower speed. Most manual treadmills come at a fixed incline, but electronic models like our picks above usually come with a customizable incline. Although, in this price range, you can expect less options for the incline levels and only a manual option so you’ll have to adjust a lever on the base of the treadmill to set the incline before starting your workout. Higher-end models may come with automatic incline settings so you can change the incline during your workout.
The belt is the part of the treadmill that rotates around the base as the user runs on the surface. Belt size is especially important if you’re on the taller side or you have a longer stride.It usually ranges from 14 to 22 inches wide and 40 to 60 inches long. Many compact treadmills for home use have a smaller belt than higher-end models or commercial-grade treadmills at the gym. If you’re on the shorter side, you may be able to get comfortable with a belt size of 14 inches by 39 inches mainly for walking. But on average, a belt size 16 inches wide and 50 inches long should be good. However, remember that a bigger belt would take up more floor and storage space, so you should only get the right size for you if space is a concern.
You should also consider the extra features you get when you choose the best budget treadmill. Many include at least a basic digital display to track your metrics such as the speed, time, distance, and calories burned, as well as a pulse sensor to monitor your heart rate. Some also come with a device holder for your phone or tablet. More advanced models feature interactive screens with built-in workout programs and Bluetooth compatibility so you can listen to music or answer calls. Of course, the more advanced the features, the higher the cost, but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for a low-quality device at this price point.
No matter your budget, there are many durable and reliable treadmills available for different needs and purposes. For under $500, you can find a treadmill ideal for light to moderate use at home. While a treadmill on its own cannot replace the gym, it’s an effective solution to get you moving while working from home. Note that more expensive treadmills are generally more durable and comfortable to run on than cheaper models. If you’re going to be regularly using it for your workouts, then a cheap treadmill may not be able to provide the variety you need. If you do find one that you like, make sure that it’s the right fit for you and the space you have and that the product comes with a decent warranty in case you encounter any issue.