Your Guide to Finding the Best Treadmill under $500

Having a treadmill at home has many benefits for your health and fitness. It enables you to squeeze in a workout when you don't have the time for a gym or when the weather outside is cold, windy or in any other way not suitable for a jog. Many people believe that these machines are incredibly expensive, which is why they don't even consider this investment. However, it is quite possible to purchase a quality treadmill for less than $500.

Before you make the purchase, though, you need to be aware of the factors that will determine your choice of the unit and the features it needs to have to meet all your fitness needs. That’s why I have prepared this buying guide for you. Besides discussing the must-haves of a quality treadmill, I’ll also try to help you in the search for the best treadmill under $500.

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** Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's review on Amazon

Best shoes for treadmill walking

Size and space considerations

Treadmill size is determined by the space you will use for the workout. Before you start your researching, measure how much available floor space you have, and storage space if you want to buy a foldable treadmill. The treadmill belt size can also affect the total footprint of the unit. The most standard size to aim for is 20” wide belt, both for runners and walkers, but 22” is considered to be preferred for runners because it leaves more place for errors.

As for the length of the belt, 50” is the minimum for walkers, while 55” is minimum for runners. However, if you are a runner over 6’ tall, you should look for 60” long belt.

A standard home treadmill is about 3’ wide and 7’ long. Foldable treadmills are also a good idea, especially if you don’t want to clutter your home when you are not working out.

Best shoes for treadmill walking

How will you work out?

The intensity of your workout also has an impact on the choice of your treadmill. It is not the same if you want to do long easy walks or if you are training for half marathon on treadmill. This is especially important for your desired motor power. If you are planning heavy exercises, you should focus on finding a powerful motor. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the intensity of your exercising also affects the length and the width of the belt.

The most important features a treadmill should have

When you are buying a treadmill, you need to research every product thoroughly to discover all the essential elements you need. I'll mention some features I consider to be the most important, and later I'll write about some additional ones that you might want to have.

Training for half marathon on treadmill
  • Straightforwardly maneuverable console and a screen with a precise digital readout. You don't want to come home with your treadmill and only then figure out you don't know how to navigate the console. All the buttons and commands should have an intuitive sense.
  • Shock absorption system: Walking or running on a deck that feels unstable or spongy isn't only awkward, it also puts you in risk of knee injuries and tends to worn out quickly. Too firm surface resembling an asphalt is also flawed. The deck should feel stable, yet comfortable. For that, you should check whether the product has some sort of cushioning and how it works.
  • A good motor. Don't fall for "the bigger, the better" rhetoric. What sufficient for just about any user is a 2.0 and above continuous duty HP motor, that is if the other components of the treadmill are of good quality. An efficient cooling mechanism can reduce the heat on the motor and thus extend its life. A strong motor with a poor cooling mechanism is a bad combination that can result in wear and tear.
  • A durable belt should be at least two-ply.
  • Motivating electronic features. This might sound unclear, but there is an explanation. Electronic features such as customizable specific user ID, quick start functions, and interval programs can be challenging and can grow with you as you progress.

Additional features to consider

How to oil a treadmill

While special features aren't essential for basic cardio training, they can contribute to the total workout experience. Which ones you will choose depends entirely on your fitness goals and how you are planning on meeting them. If there are some extras that you think it will remain unused, there aren't worth paying more money for the machine. Here are some additional features I consider to be the most useful:

  • The automated incline makes exercise more challenging and interesting, but also allows faster calorie burning and is easier on your knees.
  • Built-in workout programs can be useful for beginners.
  • Wireless pulse monitors can make your workout more efficient because they provide you with accurate heart rate data.
  • Water bottle holder can come in handy, so you don't have to get down on the treadmill each time you feel thirsty

You should be aware that buying a treadmill includes making an abundance of other decisions, such as finding the best shoes for treadmill, devising a workout program and finding your motivation to exercise at home. All of these tasks depend entirely on you. As for the best treadmills, here are five of them that meet the most important conditions for a quality workout machine.

Your Guide to Finding the Best Treadmill under $500

** Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's review on Amazon



Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill offers a lot of value for the price. The first thing you will notice in this unit is the large panel with a large LCD that enables you a clear insight into your training. It includes buttons for controlling nine workout programs and three available incline positions.

The additional features are pretty satisfactory, and they include cup holders on both sides, as well as phone tablet holder. The running surface is 15.75 x 48.82, and the motor is 2.20 Peak HP. The treadmill runs smoothly. The folding mechanism is pretty easy, so you can store the unit anywhere when you are not using it.

On the downside, this is a high-maintenance product. Most treadmills require one oiling a year, while this one should be lubricated in average on every three months. Also, the running area is a bit narrow, and not even the best shoes for treadmill can make running comfortable. The handles are not of very good quality.


Pros

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    Large LCD panel and easily navigable controls
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    Speed controls located on the handles
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    Phone holder and two cup holders
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    It runs smoothly

Cons

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    It is not suitable for tall people
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    The narrow running belt is a bit narrow
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    It is more comfortable for walking than for running
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    It requires a lot of maintenance 



Like the previous product, Weslo Cadence G 5.9 can fold to save space. The adjustable incline has two positions, and the treadmill has six workout programs. The cushioning makes walking and running more comfortable. It reaches the speed of max 10 miles per hour and has a motor of 2.25 HP. The tread belt is 50” long and 16” wide.

I really liked the basic digital read that shows time elapsed, distance, calorie burned and mph as you run. The only problem is that it isn't backlit, so it is rather hard to read. It is fairly quiet and runs very smoothly. The six running presets function pretty well, and the button used to slow down the belt is useful.

If you don’t mind that this treadmill has pretty basic features, you will not have a lot of problems with it. However, the belt tends to slip sometimes, which can be very dangerous. Other than that, there are no cup holder or phone holder, and the handles are a bit low.


Pros

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    Good value for the money.
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    Easy to assemble and fold.
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    Quieter than other machines in that price range.
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    Six workout presets.
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    Fairly comfortable to run.

Cons

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    The belt can slip, and it's prone to wear and tear.
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    No interesting additional features.
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    The screen is not backlit.
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    The handles are installed low for an average runner.



If you are searching for the best ProForm treadmill, you won’t find it in this price range, but if you would satisfy with a decent machine, this could be the unit for you. This is a budget machine, but it could be just what you need if you are training for half marathon on treadmill.

Unlike the previous products where the warranty is just a couple of months, ProForm offers five-year warranty on the most expensive parts of the unit (frame and motor), which speaks a lot about the product's quality.

I’m amazed by the number of features offered by this treadmill, which include built-in fan, accurate heart rate monitor, iPod dock, and automatic incline control. With 2.75 HP, the motor is strong for its price range. The running surface is 50” long and 18” wide, which meets the average.

The treadmill is complicated to assemble, and the motor is very loud. Also, I’ve noticed that the belt tends to move on the left side of the platform. The interface is not sufficiently user-friendly.


Pros

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    Trustworthy brand.
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    Five-year warranty.
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    Strong motor and a decent running surface.
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    Heart rate monitor is pretty accurate.

Cons

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    It is difficult to assemble it.
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    The motor makes too loud noise.
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    The belt is not stable.
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    I would wish to see a more user-friendly interface.



Another Weslo product on this list, 5.2T is a unique product on this list. It is not only a treadmill but also a cross trainer. The arm bars provide additional resistance to your workout which makes the exercising more intensive and helps you burn calories faster.

It is equipped with manual incline with two positions, LCD screen, 10mph digital speed control, cell cushioning and a standard 2.2 HP motor. The running surface is 16”W x 50”L, which is enough for a person of average height. The treadmill has four workouts presets. It is foldable, so it doesn't occupy a lot of space when it is not used.

I’ve noticed that after a couple of minutes of mid-intensity running (speed over 4 mph), the motor begins to slow down. Another problem is that the handrail tension doesn’t remain set, and it has to be adjusted before every workout.


Pros

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    Handles that provide a full-body workout
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    Quiet motor
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    Sturdy for the price
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    The controls are easily navigable 

Cons

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    The LCD is difficult to read
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    Complicated to assemble
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    The motor suddenly slows down when the speed is above 4 mph
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    The handles tension needs to be constantly adjusted



This is one of the most affordable treadmills you can find, and for the price, it’s not half as bad. At this price range, you can’t expect some extraordinary additional feature, and the unit itself is very basic. It doesn’t have in-built exercise programs or a heart rate monitor.

It can be converted into a desk treadmill if you remove the handles. Besides standard black, it comes in pink color as well. The motor is 600W, and the running surface is 14”W x 38.5”L, which makes this treadmill more suitable for walking than for running. The maximum speed is slightly above 6.2 mph, which is significantly slower than the other products reviewed here.

I didn’t expect much from a product this cheap, but it does bother me that the motor overheats easily, and the treadmill stops working after thirty minutes. Other than speed adjusting, there are no other options to customize the exercising experience. There can also be some problems with the belt sliding.


Pros

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    Incredibly affordable
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    Extremely compact
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    Can be converted into a desk treadmill
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    Requires close to no assembly

Cons

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    The running surface is too narrow for comfortable running
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    The motor overheats easily
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    Stops working after half an hour
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    No additional options

Final Word

As you see, finding a good treadmill under $500 is challenging, but not impossible. Every one of these products has perks you can find to be useful for your workout habits. After thoroughly reviewing each of them, I find that Weslo Crosswalk 5.2T is the best treadmill under $500 because it provides you with two units in one. Besides running, you can do an upper-body workout and burn calories faster.

The second best option is Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 which offers a lot of value for the price, especially when it comes to additional features such as cup and phone holders, which make at-home workouts much more convenient.

 Whichever you choose, make sure you take your way of exercising as well as your fitness goals into account when deciding on the purchase.
Bella Williams
 

Hi! I'm Bella. I love running. I write this blog to share everyone about running.

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