Gym Gear

Top 6 Treadmills for less than $500.

With a treadmill at home, you'll be able to take your training to the next level. And you don't have to spend thousands of dollars. See our list of best treadmills for less than $500.

Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen is difficult enough without also having to either schedule a trip to the gym or risk injuring or doing damage to your joints on hard concrete. This is where a treadmill in your home can make exercising much easier, but how much should you spend?

The treadmills at the gym may seem impressive, but they often cost thousands of dollars and are meant for constant use under punishing conditions. Unless you require a treadmill designed for some of the hardest abuse at the highest speeds all day, you probably do not need one that expensive.

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That is why we put together a list of the 6 best treadmills under $500, breaking down what each model does best. We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide and FAQ, so you can figure out which inexpensive treadmill best suits your at-home running needs.

Our List of Best Treadmills Under $500

ProForm Performance 300i

Product Features

  • HP: 2
  • Max Incline: 10%
  • Incline Positions: 0% to 10%
  • Max MPH: 10 mph
  • Running Surface: 50”L x 16”W
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Folded Dimensions: 35”L x 60”H x 29”W
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 65“L x 55”H x 29”W
  • Weight: 203 lbs
  • Programs: 16
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3mm Aux Audio Jack

The ProForm Performance 300i treadmill may not present the best value that we found, but it is easily one of the more capable treadmills on our list. From top to bottom, this treadmill ranks at or near the top in almost all of the most relevant categories.

For example, the ProForm Performance 300i ties for first and second-place on our list in maximum speed and maximum incline, respectively. With a max speed of 10 mph, you can run at speeds fast enough to achieve an extremely effective cardio workout.

Of course, if you prefer a slower burn, the ProForm Performance 300i’s maximum incline of 10% gives you a great workout while still protecting your knees. Even better, this treadmill can accommodate larger people than any other entry on our list thanks to a weight capacity of 300 pounds and the longest running surface we reviewed at 50”.

Unfortunately, the robust nature of this treadmill means that it does not fold up into as small a profile as some of the competition. Buy it here

Pros

  • Has a more powerful motor
  • Has a faster max speed
  • Has a higher max incline
  • Has a larger weight capacity

Cons

  • Is a more expensive treadmill
  • Has a larger profile

XTERRA Fitness TR150

Product Features

  • HP: 2 ¼
  • Max Incline: 2%
  • Incline Positions: 3 Levels
  • Max MPH: 10 MPH
  • Running Surface: 50”L x 16”W
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Folded Dimension: 28 ½”L x 61”H x 28 ¾”W
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 63 ⅖”L x 51 ⅖”H x 28 ¾”W
  • Weight: 108 lbs
  • Programs: 12
  • Connectivity: N/A

The XTERRA Fitness TR150 treadmill works best for those who want to run fast for extended periods as denoted by its list-tieing maximum speed of 10 mph. It also helps that this treadmill has the second most powerful motor we reviewed at 2 ¼ CHP, allowing it to take more abuse than most.

The XTERRA Fitness TR150 treadmill also works better for more users thanks to a list-tying running surface of 50” long. While not near the top of our list, this treadmill’s maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds still works well for most people.

That said, if you are looking for a treadmill that can provide the same kind of cardio workout at a walking pace, the XTERRA Fitness TR150’s maximum incline of 2% is not ideal. On a lesser note, the lack of any kind of connectivity means you might want to keep your phone on-hand. Buy it here.

Pros

  • Has a more powerful motor
  • Has longer running surface
  • Has higher max speed
  • Has a larger weight capacity

Cons

  • Has less incline
  • Has no connectivity

MaxKare 801 Folding Treadmill

Product Features

  • HP: 2 ½
  • Max Incline: 4 ½%
  • Incline Positions: 3 Levels
  • Max MPH: 8 ½
  • Running Surface: 43”L x 17”W
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs
  • Folded Dimensions: 28 ½”L x 46 ½”H x 26 ⅕”W
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 53 ⅖”L x 46”H x 26 ⅕”W
  • Weight: 91 lbs
  • Programs: 15
  • Connectivity: N/A

The MaxKare 801 treadmill hits our list with a splash and provides one of the best values that we encountered with enough features to back it up. For instance, this treadmill has the most powerful motor we reviewed at 5 peak HP and 2 ½ CHP, providing plenty of durability.

On top of that, you do not have to worry about customizing your exercise regimen as much with the MaxKare 801 thanks to its array of 15 different programs to choose from. Even better, this treadmill boasts a smaller overall folded footprint and profile than any other options thanks to a svelte 91-pound weight and compact 28 ½” L x 46 ½” H x 26 ⅕” W folded dimensions.

On the other hand, this is another treadmill with no connectivity options, so you either need to maintain your motivation alone or keep your smart devices nearby. Another potential issue is the shorter running surface combined with the lower weight capacity restricts the user size more than most. Buy it here.

Pros

  • Has a more powerful motor
  • Has more programs
  • Has a smaller folded profile
  • Is a less expensive treadmill

Cons

  • Has a lower weight capacity
  • Has no connectivity

Efitment T012

Product Features

  • HP: 1.0
  • Max Incline: 10%
  • Incline Positions: 16 Levels
  • Max MPH: 9
  • Running Surface: 47”L x 15 ⅗”W
  • Weight Capacity: 220
  • Folded Dimensions: 36″L x 27″W x 57″H
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 63”L x 27”W x 50 ½”H
  • Weight: 112 lbs
  • Programs: 9
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3mm Aux Audio Jack

The Efitment T012 treadmill comes in at good value by managing to do more with less, though it can straddle that line a bit closer at times. For example, this treadmill can run at the second-fastest speed on our list at 9 mph.

On top of that, the Efitment T012 treadmill also boasts the second-highest maximum incline at 10% with the most incline positions at 16. This allows this treadmill to accommodate a wider range of cardio workout routines as well as ensure that you do not put undue stress on your knees.

Conversely, the Efitment T012 also has a lower maximum weight capacity at only 220 pounds but a longer running surface at 47”. This restricts the Efitment T012 to people who are likely already at least in somewhat decent shape and simply want to maintain their good conditioning.

While the Efitment T012 connects wirelessly or through a 3.5mm aux audio jack, it also has the fewest programs at only 9. Buy it here

Pros

  • Has a faster max speed
  • Has a higher max incline
  • Has a longer running surface
  • Has good connectivity

Cons

  • Has a less powerful motor
  • Has a lower weight capacity

SereneLife Smart Digital Folding Treadmill0

Product Features

  • HP: 1 ½
  • Max Incline: 3%
  • Incline Positions: 3 Levels
  • Max MPH: 7 ½
  • Running Surface: 43 ⅓”L x 15 ⅔”W
  • Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
  • Folded Dimensions: 25 ⅗” x 26 ⅔” x 52 ⅓”
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 54 ⅔” x 26 ⅔” x 49 ⅗”
  • Weight: 85 ¾ lbs
  • Programs: 16
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm Aux Audio Jack, USB, SD

The SereneLife SLFTRD25 treadmill appeals more to the casual user who would like to get in better shape but may not be looking to push themself to the limits. One of the best highlights to this end is the treadmill’s broad connectivity options which far exceed the competition’s.

Aside from the common Bluetooth and 3.5mm aux audio jack, the SereneLife SLFTRD25 treadmill can also support USB and SD cards. These connections allow you to play music directly from the treadmill without having to worry about connecting your phone wirelessly or otherwise.

That said, this treadmill has one of the least powerful motors on our list at only 1 ½ hp as well as the slowest maximum speed we reviewed at only 7 ½ mph. On the other hand, the SereneLife SLFTRD25 treadmill has a fairly large maximum weight capacity of 265 pounds but a shorter running surface at 43 ⅓”. Buy it here.

Pros

  • Has more programs
  • Has a larger weight capacity
  • Has broad connectivity
  • Is a less expensive treadmill

Cons

  • Has a slower max speed
  • Has a less powerful motor

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515

Product Features

  • HP: 1.0
  • Max Incline: 12%
  • Incline Positions: 12 Levels
  • Max MPH: 8
  • Running Surface: 49 ½”L x 16 ½”W
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Folded Dimensions: 40 ½”L x 28”W x 54 ¾”H
  • Unfolded Dimensions: 64 ½”L X 28”W X 50 ½”H
  • Weight: 121 lbs
  • Programs: 12
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5mm Aux Audio Jack

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 treadmill often splits the difference for several factors that make it an okay choice for most people, but it may not stand out for anyone in particular. For example, the maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds combined with the longer running surface of 49 ½” provides for most sizes of users.

The main area where this treadmill shines is in the incline where the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 tops our list with a maximum incline of 12%. Even better, this treadmill complements that steep maximum incline with 12 different incline levels, so you can tailor your workout as needed.

Unfortunately, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515 also has the least powerful motor on our list at only 1 CHP and the second-slowest maximum speed at only 8 mph. This treadmill also has the largest folded footprint and profile at 121 pounds and 40 ½” L x 28” W x 54 ¾” H. Buy it here

Pros

  • Has good connectivity
  • Has a higher max incline
  • Has a longer running surface
  • Has a higher weight capacity

Cons

  • Is a more expensive treadmill
  • Has a less powerful motor

Buying Guide For Affordable Treadmills

Incline options

A treadmill’s incline may not always be the most important quality, but the options often determine what kind of use you can get out of the treadmill. For example, most treadmills come with some degree of incline with smaller, manually adjusted inclines at least protect your knees.

Of course, if you want a treadmill’s incline to improve your cardio workout, you should look for a model with a steeper incline. If you want both options with the ability to choose one or the other, look for a treadmill that provides a wide range of different incline levels.

Size of the belt

The size of the belt plays an important role in determining how comfortable it is to run on the treadmill and who the treadmill is meant for. While weight capacity may provide one kind of size limit for a treadmill, the length of the belt will similarly restrict the maximum height of the user.

That said, the width also impacts your experience running on a treadmill, though it does not tend to restrict the size of the user. Instead, the width of a treadmill’s belt determines how wide of a running gait you can employ with quicker running speeds requiring a wider gait.

Motor and speed

Though the motor and speed are often connected, you should not assume that a more powerful motor automatically indicates a faster maximum speed. Instead, the power of a motor tends to correlate more with long term durability than a major difference in maximum speed.

That said, it is important to consider whether the treadmill’s advertised horsepower is given at the motor’s peak or its continuous duty rating. A motor often runs at a higher peak horsepower for short spurts but runs at a much lower continuous duty horsepower over extended periods.

It is also worth noting that you do not need the fastest treadmill to get a great cardio workout. There are also manual or motorless treadmills that provide a unique workout.

Control module

The control module often called the console, should not be the most important factor when choosing a treadmill. That said, the ease of using a treadmill’s console can help you break a tie between two options that otherwise seem equal.

Of course, some of the more advanced, or “smart,” treadmills that connect with your smart devices via Bluetooth allow you to control the treadmill from a phone on your app. This tends to be the easiest way to control a treadmill, but all treadmills also employ manual digital interfaces.

For manual control, large buttons that are clearly labeled are usually easier to use.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a $500 Treadmill the Same as a Gym-Grade Treadmill?

The short answer to this question is: no, a $500 treadmill is not the same as a gym-grade treadmill. However, this does not mean that you cannot get as effective of a workout at home from a $500 treadmill as you can from a gym-grade model. That said, gym-grade treadmills tend to offer more features and better grades of components than less expensive models. This difference is most notable with the motors and mechanical adjustments where gym-grade treadmills usually have more horsepower and incline adjustments. This allows gym-grade treadmills to run at speeds no $500 model can achieve, but those speeds are generally only necessary for professional athletes.

Does Incline Matter on a Treadmill?

Whether or not incline matters for you depends on what kind of workout you are looking for and the state of your knees. For example, a modest incline of only 3% can reduce the shock of impact by up to 24%, reducing the amount of wear and tear your knees experience. While this is especially important for someone with arthritic knees, it is reasonably worthwhile for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of stress a treadmill puts on your joints. Likewise, running at an incline forces the body to work harder, increasing heart rate and improving your cardiovascular workout. Even if you walk at a slow to moderate pace, regularly walking at an incline can also increase cardiovascular health.

Should I Buy a Folding Treadmill?

Regardless of your living arrangement, a folding treadmill allows you to avoid taking up a large footprint with an exercise machine you likely only use for an hour or two a day. When you are not using your treadmill, it only takes up space, wasting it and obstructing your area. That said, a folding treadmill can be seen as necessary for anyone who wants to own a treadmill and lives in a smaller space, like an apartment. If you own a large home with plenty of unused space, you may not worry as much about whether a treadmill can fold up.

Which treadmills are good for home use?

As with many of our FAQ questions, the answer to this depends on what kind of workout you want to get and what limitations you may have. If you want a treadmill that can perform at the highest levels without the worry of it falling under stress, you will want a gym-grade model. On the other hand, most people running on a treadmill at home simply want an easy way to stay in shape without the hassle of leaving home. In this instance, a treadmill with multiple connectivity options and programs can help keep you motivated while taking the guesswork out of your exercise routine.

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