Treadmills are a convenient way to workout from home without having to worry about commuting to the gym or trudging through inclement weather. There are countless advantages to using a treadmill. People of varying fitness levels can use them to aid strength training, endurance, weight loss, and other health and fitness goals. With that being said, most treadmills are a multi-thousand dollars investment. Fortunately, there are a small number of treadmills under $500 that are worth a try.
In this article, we will review the 5 best treadmills under $500. They are:
What should you look for in a treadmill under 500?
If you’re looking to purchase a budget treadmill, it helps if you know a little bit about what you’re looking for Think about your budget, which room you’ll be putting it in, who is going to use it and how they intend to use it. You may be enticed by extras like heart rate monitors and app compatibility, but your initial focus should be on the machinery.
When evaluating a potential treadmill, you should compare the motor size, belt size, speed options, incline options, track cushioning, and control panel. These perks will determine how far you can push the machine and how comfortable it will be for your chosen workout. Treadmills under $500 tend to be small and less efficient, but that doesn’t mean they don’t function well.
Why is track size important?
Track or runway size is the measure of usable surface. Without a large enough track, treadmill users cannot accommodate the large strides required for running. For walkers, a 50-inch belt is suitable. However, runners need at least a 55-inch long and 28-inch wide track. For taller individuals, those measurements are even greater.
Why is motor size important
Motor power determines how much rigorous exercise you’ll be able to perform. Typically, treadmills have between 2.25 and 4.25 continuous horsepower. If you intend to use your treadmill to run, 3.0 continuous horsepower is ideal. However, treadmill motor sizes range between 2.25 and 4.25 CHP.
Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill
The Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill is a bargain-priced, compact treadmill that features a 16” by 50” running surface and a 2.25 CHP Mach Z motor. With six unique programmable workouts and maximum speeds reaching 10 MPH, you’ll no longer have to skip your morning jog when the sun doesn’t show.
The treadmill features a built-in heart rate monitor, blue-tinted LCD display, two position manual incline, and comfort cell cushioning. Moreover, it is designed to fold-up into a standing position to save you space when not in use. There is a 1-year warranty on the motor and 90-day warranties on parts and labor.
On the downside, there are no electric incline options, which means you need to get off and adjust the ramps to alter the difficulty. There are also no phone or water bottle holders. If you’re looking for moderately engaging equipment, this is suitable. However, if you intend to use your equipment to run, are larger belt is preferable.
Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill
The Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill features a compact, 15.75” by 48.82”, workout area rolled into a foldable frame steel frame. If you’re looking to squeeze your exercise equipment into a small space, this treadmill is optimal. However, the 2.2 horsepower motor can only generate a maximum speed of nine miles per hour and has a limited 220-pound weight capacity.
Perks include three inclines, a BMI calculator, and nine programmable workouts. While there is no built-in entertainment, a plastic ledge provides a favorable place to prop a cellphone or tablet. In the bargain range of exercise equipment, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Merax JK1603E Easy Assembly Folding Electric Treadmill
The Merax JK1603E Easy Assembly Folding Electric Treadmill is an extremely lightweight model with a scaled down workout area. With just 12” by 44” of track and a 500W motor, this treadmill is ideal for walking or jogging. It also features three manual inclines options, three workout programs, a blue light LCD screen, and a 10 MPH speed limit.
For a budget-range treadmill, the cushioned running track and handlebar controls offer a surprisingly safe and ergonomic experience. Moreover, there is a liberal 1-year frame and motor warranty. However, this machine is loud and cannot accommodate wide running strides.
Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill
The Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill is an ultra lightweight machine that features a hard working 2.5 CHP impulse motor, a reinforced cushion system, and a 16” by 50” belt. While it may not be suitable for marathon training, the Weslo Cadence can reach speeds of up to ten MPH and offers six different preprogrammed workouts. The blue tinted LCD screen is easy to use and can help track personal statistics weight loss, burned calories, heart rate, and distance.
If you’re concerned with being able to control the impact, the 2-position adjustable incline doesn’t offer much flexibility. However, the belt is extremely supportive. In addition, the treadmill features a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and a 90-day guarantee on parts and labor.
Goplus 1000W Folding Electric Treadmill
Don’t let the compact, folding frame of the Goplus 1000W Folding Electric Treadmill fool you. It features a 43.3” by 17.7” of cushioned runway on a solid steel frame. Step up your game with three manual inclinations and use the preprogrammed workouts to keep yourself moving. While there aren’t many extras built-in to this bargain treadmill, it is compatible with MP3 players and has a built-in smartphone holder.
Use the treadmill to track your heart rate, speed, distance, time, and calories. Plus, with convenient handrail heart rate monitors and speed controls, never again fumble around trying to reach the control panel. Moreover, utilize clip-on tether to guarantee your safety. Besides, if you’re worried it won’t live up to its promise, you can always take advantage of the 100% money-back guarantee.
The honest conclusion
When purchasing a product, you often hear that you shouldn't buy the cheapest models as they are missing key-features or that they will break down very quickly due to bad quality. And of course, there is a difference in treadmills under 500 and treadmills with a higher price tag.
However what often goes wrong when making a cheaper purchase is that the expectation does not equal reality, meaning that the expectations to a more affordable treadmill were not realistic. Therefore let's look at what you really can expect from a treadmill under 500
Treadmill for running or walking
I would say that most mistakes are made here. As we mentioned above, for a treadmill to be efficient for running there are specific requirements that need to be met. First of all the track have to be big enough if you want it for running.
When an average sized adult takes a step, they will typically cover a distance of 32 inches from heal to heal, meaning their Average Stride Length is 32 inches. Adding then another 10 inches for the length of your foot from heel to toes it in total becomes 42 inches.
Therefore any treadmill with a track shorter than 42 inches would be useless for walking.
Now, your hight and the walking speed will have an impact as well so the shorter and slower you walk the smaller the track can be, and on the other hand, the taller and faster you walk the longer the track needs to be. But as a rule of thumb, you should aim for a minimum track length of 43 inches if you only want to walk on your treadmill. All treadmills above meet this requirement.
Now, if you want to run on your treadmill things are a bit different. Again we, of course, have to remember that hight, speed and running style has a significant impact on the stride length, but let's look at some average figures.
A study from the 1984 Olympics showed the following stride lengths:
Female distance runners had an average stride length of 58 inches
- Female sprinters averaged strides of 80 inches
- Male distance runners had an average stride length of 74 inches
- Male sprinters averaged strides of 93 inches
Of course above is professional runners and normally you don't purchase a treadmill for sprinting 800 meters but we all ready now understand that we need a treadmill with a longer track if you want to be able to run comfortably on it.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't go below 55 inches if you want a treadmill for running at home and the closer to 65 you can get, which is usually maximum, the better.
If you look at the figures from the 1984 Olympics you could easily conclude that male runner would need a much longer track and in some way, it's the truth. However by pacing your running style a bit different than when you run outside you can still get at a good run on a 60 inches track.
The second most common place where things can go wrong as expectations don't meet reality is around the treadmill motor.
Again you will have to distinguish between a home treadmill for walking or running.
If the plan is only to walk on the treadmill a motor around 1,5 CHP can work but to be on the safe side try to stick to an engine around 2 CHP.
For running, we need to step it up and try to stay above 2,5 CHP. This fact will, of course, exclude some of the small treadmills above but again if walking is the primary purpose they are all fine.
Something that can also go wrong is if the noise level is too high for the surroundings you live in.
For example, if you live in an apartment with neighbours to all sites, you have to make sure that the noise level isn't too loud.
Noise can come from the motor but also the running track. When looking at the details on the track you want to make sure that the rollers are 2.5-inch if the plan is to run on the treadmill. This will not only make the track run more smooth but also extend the lifetime of the treadmill. Finally, the thickness of the track shouldn't be thinner than 1-inch for runners as this will both avoid bouncing and thereby unnecessary noise going through the frame and down to the floor.
To avoid issues with noise, it's also a good idea to purchase a rubber matt to place the treadmill on.
Going for a budget treadmill doesn't only have to be about compromising as there are advantages that a cheaper treadmill has compared to a more expensive one.
Most of the more expensive treadmills are bigger and not as compact as the cheaper models. Furthermore, they are not foldable nor portable like most of the smaller treadmills are.
What you shouldn't focus on
Often it's easy to sell a product on features, but if you want to do yourself a favour, you should forget about all the fancy features, especially if you want a cheap treadmill.
Standard features are more than fine. Focus on engine power, track size and the overall quality of the frame.
Who should not consider a cheap treadmill
First of all, go and take a look in your garage or wherever you store your different types of workout machines. Now, if that place has other types of machines that haven't been used for a long time, it might not be the best idea to purchase a new piece of equipment that probably after some time will end up the same place. What you want to do is figure out why you don't use them and maybe find someone who can help you to stay motivated. Group training or a personal trainer might be a better option in order to get some results.
Also if you already are a hardcore runner who would like to have a backup plan when the weather is too rough for running, it might not be a good idea to purchase a budget treadmill. As you are used to running and therefore can run longer and faster, you will be much better off spending the extra money on getting a more powerful treadmill.
Who should consider a cheap treadmill
If you are new to running or even working out a more affordable treadmill can for sure work for you. Also if you are not ready for running yet but want to start out with walking, then it can be an excellent solution.
Also for the person who has a home gym that mainly focuses on weight training but wants to add some limited cardio exercise it can also be a useful solution.
How to workout on a treadmill
One of the most important things when starting out with any exercising is to start out slow and then progress carefully. Too many times people have too high ambitions about their workout when starting, which only results in fast fatigue or even injuries and finally loss of motivation.
Continually and steady progression is the name of the game for those who want to get results.
So if you are new to exercising, make sure to start out by walking on your treadmill. After some time you can then add some short intervals of slow jogging. From there you can increase the number of intervals, make them longer and even jog a bit faster but again don't overdo it in the beginning. Results will come, but don't plan them to be there in a few weeks or months but think long term of several months and even years.
Another thing not to forget if you are new to exercising is that cardio is not everything. A lot of people who start with running doesn't have the required muscle strength to support mile after mile of running, and the outcome will be injuries.
Make sure to do some strength training as well. This doesn't have to be in a gym but can easily be achieved at home with callisthenics strength exercises. For more info on that subject, you can have a look at my comprehensive article around callisthenics exercises right here.
Buying a treadmill under 500 can be tricky, but I hope that with this article we have helped you to make the right choice.
Rember to be realistic before you purchase your budget treadmill. Common for a lot of people who decide to start to workout is that they focus on the wrong things like equipment first. It is fully understandable that it's easier to go out and purchase an exercising machine than actually getting started with the running and exercising. However, the truth is that if you don't carefully consider your purchase, there is a huge risk that a budget purchase can become more costly than an expensive one.
Now, with your new knowledge, please take the time to make the right choice and if you are not fully convinced you can also read my article on best treadmills under 1000 - good luck.