The 5 Best Budget Friendly Treadmills
Your budget is a key consideration when choosing a treadmill, but oftentimes it can be difficult to figure out which model is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Treadmills offer a huge range of different features which significantly impact the price, but that doesn’t mean you you’ll have to make huge sacrifices when shopping on a budget. At the end of the day, the most important part of owning a treadmill is getting a good workout, and there are many treadmills out there that adequately meet this essential expectation and more without breaking the bank.
The most essential features to look for in a treadmill, no matter the price range, include: a motor that suits your speed and fitness level.
Horsepower Makes All the Difference
Most treadmills are between 2.0 and 3.0 horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the faster the treadmill will go and it is also likely to be more durable. 2.0 treadmills barely get up to jogging speed, as they are meant more for people who want to use a treadmill for walking exercises. 3.0 treadmills are made for runners who are at a high fitness level and run faster than average, or want to periodically do intense speedwork (these are the type of treadmills you’ll often find in the gym).
Everything in between is about as varied as runners themselves. Some charts say 2.0 for walkers, 2.5 for joggers, and 3.0 for runners, but I find that info a little skewed. I consider myself an average runner, not very fast but not necessarily a jogger either, and I’ve owned a 2.25hp treadmill for years and loved it. I can comfortably run for 30-40 minutes at the 5 or 6 mph settings and if I bump it all the way up to top speed I’m at a near sprint. I’ve never felt like it couldn’t go fast enough if I wanted to do speedwork.
The amount of horsepower also determines the treadmill’s weight limit. Most sources say that if you weigh more than 200 lbs you should increase the horsepower by .5 no matter what your fitness goals are (for example, it is recommended that you should get a 2.5 hp treadmill even if you’ll only be using it for walking). I say just check the specs on the treadmill you are interested in before you buy, they will always tell you what the suggested weight limit is and I’ve found that many of them support higher weight limits than 200 lbs.
A Running Deck That is Suitable for Your Stride
Oftentimes, the cheaper the treadmill is the shorter the running deck. If you are able to test your treadmill before buying, then you’ll know pretty quick if the running deck is sufficient. But if you are ordering online, be aware of the length of the deck, especially if you’re tall.
Size Suitable for Your Home
In order for your treadmill purchase to be a success, it has to fit in your space. While non-folding treadmill models are usually more durable than folding models, you definitely don’t want to skip this detail if you are pressed for space. As for sound, note that motors employing direct current (or known as DC) cause less noise compared to motors that use alternate current (also known as AC).
Features That Support Your Fitness Goals
Budget treadmills are obviously not going to include plush features like web-enabled touch screens and HD digital displays, but you want to make sure it covers the basics that you do need. Below are the common features that most of the budget treadmills will have.
- Built-in workout programs might be an important feature for you if you are a beginner or have very specific goals - like you want to use the treadmill for weight loss or for speed training
- A heart rate monitor may be important if you want to keep a close eye on your fitness progression or must comply with a doctor’s recommendation
- An incline is an important feature if you are training for a race.
- There are also some non-fitness related features to consider, such as length of warranty and whether or not the machine requires assembly.
Below are five options for buying a treadmill on a budget. All of these treadmills have an array of basic features and are available for purchase on Amazon. While they will all require home assembly, they have all received positive customer reviews.
The 5 Best Budget Treadmills
The quiet and smooth Weslo Cadence G 5.9 treadmill features a 2.25hp motor, which can reach speeds up to 10 miles per hour (in increments of 0.5 mph), can manually incline to two positions (1.5 percent and 6 percent) and you can easily store it when not in use as it folds up. The running deck area 16″ x 50″ and features a Comfort Cell cushioning system, intended to reduce stress on your joints and increase workout comfort. It features a built in heart rate monitor, a blue LCD screen which tracks your speed, time, distance, pulse, and calories, and includes six programming options for more aerobic intensity.
From the reviews, it’s clear to see that people really like this treadmill. Review after review stated how easy it was to assemble, how great of a value it is, how compact it is, and how they enjoy using it. Reviews came in from people of all sizes and fitness levels, one woman stating that she was self-described “short lazy person” and loved it. Below that, a 6”2’ man weighing 230 lbs stated that it is smooth, quiet, durable and a great value that worked perfectly for jogging and light running. Many reviewers mentioned that it goes faster than they can run despite it being a low horsepower machine - so it’s a great buy for the jogger or medium-speed runner.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 Treadmill
This is a basic light duty, no frills compact treadmill suitable for walking, jogging and light running. It is foldable and many reviewers mention that it is quite narrow in comparison to treadmill’s you would typically see at the gym - making it great for small spaces. The treadmill has a 2.2hp motor which can reach speeds up to 9 miles per hour (in increments of 0.5 mph). The treadmill can manually incline to three positions (maximum incline angle is 12 degrees).
It also features convenient handrail controls that will allow you to control your speed and start/stop the treadmill with one touch, 9 fitness programs, and a smart phone/tablet holder. The running deck on this treadmill is 15.75″ x 48.8″ and may not be suitable for tall runners with long strides. For this price, an awesome treadmill for home use!
The Merit 725T features a 2.25-horsepower drive motor that provides smooth power at all speeds. The treadmill's intuitive console controls let you easily set your workout pace from 0 to 10 miles per hour. It’s a breeze to monitor your workout progress thanks to the two-window LED display, which tracks your time, distance, speed, calories burned, and more. One thing that really sets this treadmill apart from others on the list so far is a motorized incline that goes up to 10 percent. I personally like this feature because I regularly use the incline and like to adjust it throughout my workout. This task is such a hassle with a manual incline since you have to stop the machine and adjust it yourself everytime you want to change the incline.
I highly recommend this treadmill for runners who are training for a race/competition or who like to use the incline regularly for maintaining fitness. The Aerosoft cushioning system below the belt isolates your feet and legs from shock. Other details include seven preset programs (weight loss, mountain and hill climbs, cardio and endurance challenges, intervals and manual functions), a pulse monitor built into the handgrips, quick speed/incline keys, and a folding frame for easy storage.
One downfall is that the running deck measures 18” X 45”, making it slightly wider than others listed so far, but the shortest lengthwise. This shouldn’t be an issue if you are less than 6 ft. tall, but any taller with a considerably long stride might find this running deck too short.
4. The NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill features a 2.6 continuous horsepower motor packed with features that make it easier to work out at home and meet your fitness goals. The roomy 20” X 55” belt features NordicTrack’s own FlexSelect cushioning system that softens the impact of each stride, but you can also set it to simulate the feel of road running. No need to interrupt your workout by scrolling through settings as the OneTouch controls allow you to adjust your speed anywhere between 0 and 10 mph and your incline between 0 and 10 percent at the touch of a button. It has an easy-to-read 5” backlit display that tracks speed, distance, time, pulse and calories, and you can follow your run on a replica of a quarter-mile long track.
As with all NordicTrack machines, this treadmill is compatible with iFit, a program where you can access training routes anywhere in the world via Google maps, receive automatic stats tracking, create personalized workouts, participate in competitions, watch celebrity workout videos and more (requires a separate iFit wireless module and subscription, sold separately). But even without the iFit module, there are 20 different workout apps using various speeds and inclines to mix up the aerobic intensity and achieve specific goals.
You can connect your iPod or other music device to the T 6.5 S’s integrated sound system to hear your favorite fitness playlist projected through dual 2-inch speakers, and the SpaceSaver Design with EasyLift Assist make it easy to fold up and store. PLUS it has a lifetime warranty on the body plus a 25 year warranty on the motor (extremely impressive considering other treadmills in the price range come with a two year warranty on the motor). This is a seriously impressive treadmill for the price and is a great investment if you are a heavy runner who plans on using the treadmill freqeuntly for many years to come.
The Horizon Fitness T101-4 is a folding treadmill with speeds up to 10 MPH, powered incline to 10 percent, a spacious 20” x 55” running deck, and a quiet 2.25hp motor (continuous duty). It’s features include PerfectFLEX deck cushioning (provides shock absorption and support), Sonic surround speakers with MP3 compatibility, pulse grip heart rate monitoring, a COOLfit workout fan (keeps you cool during your workout), a water bottle holder, and a reading rack to support a book, magazine or tablet. The computer console has upgraded to a 4.5″ backlit LCD to monitor your time, calories, speed, etc. They’ve also upgraded from 9 to 30 programs on this model! Programs include manual workout, 10 Step-goal workouts, 10 distance-based workouts, 6 calorie-goal workouts and 3 intervals workouts.
Reviewers have noted that compared to other treadmills they have owned they noticed how sturdy this model is. It doesn’t shake when you accelerate to high speeds. Amazon highlights that Horizon Fitness treadmills have more welded steel components, making them easier to assemble and among the strongest and sturdiest around - let alone in the budget category. People also mention that it is super quiet and suitable for any room in the house, is very to easy to fold and unfold, and that they enjoy using the fitness programs.
As mentioned, all of these treadmills are available on Amazon and I’ve provided the links to each page, but if you have an exercise equipment retailer near you, you can always visit their website or make a phone call to see if they carry these brands (I know that some reviewers mentioned they bought the same treadmill at Walmart, then reviewed the product on Amazon).
Also, it’s not a bad idea to check out sites like Craigslist or download a buy/sell app (such as OfferUp, Wallopop, or LetGo), especially if you live in a large city. Treadmills pop up on these sources all the time and you can save a significant amount of money. The treadmill that
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