Buying Guide for Budget Treadmills
Why buy a treadmill when you’re on a budget?
Buying a treadmill is a big investment, but it’s a misconception to believe that you can’t find one while on a budget. In fact, there are plenty of options for reliable treadmills that can make your fitness a priority at home for less than $1,000. Not only can these budget treadmills provide a great workout at the convenience of your own home, but many of them also fold up for easy storage and are cheaper than a year’s worth of a gym membership.
What should you consider when shopping for a treadmill on a budget?
- Motor: Is a manual or motorized treadmill right for your home workout? A manual treadmill is powered by your effort—the more muscle you put into it to move the belt, the faster you go, so you burn more calories, and it doesn’t require electricity. A motorized treadmill will have more features and workout options, but it will also be bulkier and more expensive. If a motorized treadmill is your choice, look for a motor with at least 1.5 continuous horsepower (CHP)—one with over 2 CHP will be a better choice. The CHP you need will also increase with the weight of the treadmill’s users.
- Belt: A treadmill belt should be at least 13 inches wide and 40 inches long to fit the average stride. If you are over 6 feet tall, you’ll need a longer belt. Smaller belt sizes work great for walkers, and larger belt sizes are best for runners.
- Incline: Do you want both incline and/or decline options to simulate both uphill and downhill running or walking? Whether or not you need these features depends on your training goals. For speeds slower than 8 miles per hour, an incline adjustment may not be as useful. Manual treadmills with incline options will require you to get off them and adjust them by hand. Electronic incline adjustments are easier and usually more accurate but add to the cost of your treadmill.
- Usage: A home treadmill doesn’t have to be as heavy-duty as a gym treadmill that has to stand up to frequent use every day, but you should still consider how many people will use it and how often. Weight capacity is a good indicator of durability.
- Space: Be sure to measure your space before you buy your treadmill to make sure you have room for it. A folding treadmill will take up less space, but you still need to be sure you have a place to put it that works, especially if you live in an apartment or a small home.
- water bottle and tablet, and the readouts for things like speed and time should be accessible and easy to read. Control Panel and Extras: With a treadmill at home, you may need fewer entertainment options on it, but it should have basics like places to put your
Do you need any additional purchases to set up your treadmill?
No matter what type of treadmill you get, a non-slip exercise mat is recommended to put under your treadmill. Not only will this protect your floors, but it can also keep your treadmill in place, which makes it safer for your use.
Aside from the mat, there are no other additional purchases needed. However, depending on who can help with assembly, you may want to consider adding on professional delivery and assembly. This can add peace of mind to your purchase. Another thing to consider is that some treadmills come with optional subscription memberships to access workout videos.
Our Picks for the Best Budget Treadmills
NordicTrack T Series Treadmills
Bring a well-trusted brand into your home and enjoy the treadmill all year round.
Pros: With this treadmill, you can adjust your workout with incline variants from 0-10% and also with speed from 0-10 mph. The treadmill features FlexSelect cushioning, so the impact of each stride is less jarring on your joints. If you want to keep your floor space clean, this treadmill features EasyLift Assist allowing it to fold up after your run or walk for compact and simple storage. Even though this is an excellent treadmill for your home, it still provides ample leg and elbow room so you can run or walk naturally without feeling cramped. This treadmill supports 300 pounds, has Bluetooth capabilities, and once you receive your purchase, it includes a 30-Day iFIT Membership.
Cons: This treadmill is hard to assemble without at least another one or two people. The box weighs over 200 pounds when delivered.
Bottom Line: This treadmill provides the walking or running workout you’d expect at the gym in the comfort of your own home. Even when regularly running or increasing the speed, the treadmill stays quiet, which makes it ideal for a home. In addition, the easy folding makes it simple to store, decreasing the floor space it requires when it’s not in use. While it may take a few friends to help you assemble the treadmill, the incline and speed customization, as well as other features, make the effort worth it.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 Smart Treadmill
This treadmill comes equipped with features to make your workout challenging as well as entertaining.
Pros: The Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Treadmill’s quick button auto incline makes it great for runners who want the uphill climb in their workout routine. It comes equipped with a 2.2-CHP motor, a walking/running deck that’s 16.5 inches wide and 49.5 inches long, and 12 auto electronic incline settings that are activated by the touch of a button. The digital monitor shows you 12 pre-set programs, speed, time, distance, calorie, incline, pulse, and countdown. This model includes integrated speakers, a microphone, and Bluetooth and mp3 connectivity that lets you listen to music or answer calls while you work out. This treadmill weighs 121 pounds.
Cons: The maximum weight capacity is only 240 pounds. The speed only goes to 8 mph.
Bottom Line: This treadmill is a great home option that also includes features that make your walk or run more entertaining, varied, and, if you use the quick button, more challenging. You can choose between preset workouts, or you can manually customize your incline and speed. Unfortunately for those pushing their limits, the speed only goes to 8 mph.
Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill
The portability and versatility of this treadmill allow you to get in a workout in the office or at home without much fuss.
Pros: If you like to work out at home and at your desk in the office, this Goplus treadmill with two modes is the choice for you. Its 2.25-CHP motor helps you walk or run steadily, and it has a five-layer non-slip belt to absorb shock and cushion your joints. The high-fidelity 3D speaker can play audio through a Bluetooth connection, and the armrest is equipped with a phone or tablet bracket for watching videos and listening to music when using the treadmill. It also runs at a volume lower than 60 decibels, so it won’t disrupt you or the people around you. The treadmill weighs only 70 pounds and comes with built-in wheels for easy transport.
Cons: The maximum weight capacity is 265 pounds. The maximum speed only reaches 7.5 mph.
Bottom Line: This treadmill provides easy configuration for under-the-desk walking while working, or you can put up the handrails for a more intense workout. No matter what type of workout you choose to do, the low noise of the motor and belt won’t be disruptive. Your workouts can be entertaining with several technological features. If you plan to run faster, keep in mind the maximum speed of this treadmill is only 7.5 mph.
XTERRA Fitness TR Folding Treadmill
This affordable treadmill doesn't lack in workout capabilities or quality construction.
Pros: The XTERRA Fitness TR150 Treadmill combines quality and performance with the flexibility of a machine that can be easily folded up and stored away. It can stand up to frequent workouts thanks to its alloy steel build, yet it has a quiet 2.25-CHP motor. The treadmill features a 5-inch LCD display that shows you 12 pre-set programs, as well as speed, incline, time, distance, calories, and pulse. The speed on this treadmill can be adjusted from 1-9 mph. This treadmill weighs 97 pounds.
Cons: The weight capacity is 250 pounds. The incline for the treadmill must be set manually.
Bottom Line: You can feel confident that this treadmill will last for your renewed health and fitness goals. Its quality construction stands up to frequent workouts, while the preset workouts and customization abilities allow you to progress in intensity. This treadmill does have a lower weight limit of 250 pounds.
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Incline Treadmill
Leave out the guesswork when it comes to workout variety, thanks to built-in programs.
Pros: This treadmill features a folding mechanism that folds and slowly lowers your treadmill hands-free. It has three levels of incline and is able to reach up to 9 mph for speed to customize your workouts. The display tracks your workout stats and also has a pause feature that keeps your stats if you need a quick water break. You can use a device and connect via Bluetooth for entertainment during your workouts.
Cons: The maximum weight for this treadmill is 220 pounds. This treadmill only inclines to less than 5% and is a manual incline.
Bottom Line: When you’re looking to get a great workout indoors, this treadmill is a great option. With programmed workouts, you can add variety to your walks and runs without having to get creative on your own. This treadmill can let you run up to 9mph, but the incline has to be done manually and only inclines to 4%. The hands-free folding mechanism makes this treadmill super easy to use and then store on a daily basis.
Using a treadmill at home for year-round or daily workouts doesn’t have to cost as much as a car’s down payment. In fact, these options allow you to keep fitness a frequent practice while still being mindful of your finances.