As the most popular piece of home fitness equipment on the planet, the treadmill is seen as a must have item for most home workout enthusiasts. It can also be one of the most costly. However, it is possible to find great value treadmills without compromising too much on quality and functionality. We’ve gathered them all together here in one place to make your life easier.
Our top pick for the best treadmill under $500 is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400, a solid foldable unit that provides you with programs, hand rail controls and three incline options.
Top Pick: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T4400 Treadmill
The Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill is a compact, sleek and streamlined unit that will accentuate your workout area. It is also designed for functionality. The controls to adjust your speed and workout level are on both the main console and the hand rails, which makes it easy for you to adjust without losing your balance.
This treadmill can be purchased in a choice of two frame colors – grey and pink.
This treadmill provides you with a constant and reliable running cycle, unlike may cheap models which are very jerky and unstable. Although you won’t be able to go as fast as you would with a commercial model, you will be able to travel just as fluidly.
Generous Running Track
With a running surface of 48.82 inches in length and 15.75 inches in width, the Sunny Treadmill provides you with a functional walking surface. You won’t feel confined when walking on this machine which will allow your use your natural running gait.
This treadmill is not, however, designed for taller people, due to its compact nature. People who are over 6 feet tall will probably find the running track a little restrictive.
You can purchase the Sunny Health and Fitness Treadmill for less than $400. For the features that you get, and the quality of construction, that is fantastic value for money. What’s more they even through in free shipping.
Multiple Incline Adjustment
The Sunny Treadmill provides you with three manual incline adjustments. This allows you to train with more intensity. You are also able to progressively increase the hardness of your workout as you get fitter. The manual adjustment is quick and easy to operate. The inclines are also extremely stable so you’ll have no worries about it giving way when you’re working out.
Variety of Programs
With this treadmill you get 9 exercise programs. This is a very good number for a treadmill that you can purchase for less than $500. The 9 programs provide you with a full range of workout options, including heart rate and fat loss programs.
Easy to Read Display
Many of the lower priced treadmills compromise when it comes to the console panel. Not so with the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-T4400. The console gives you a large, clear and easy to read display. On it you will be able to monitor your key training diagnostics, including time, speed, distance covered, pulse rate and calories burned.
The console also features a large emergency stop button which is centrally located. There is also a place to hold your smartphone, tablet or other device so that you can entertain yourself while you sweat.
The Sunny Treadmill is foldable, making it a great to be used in compact spaces.
Not For Heavy People
The maximum user weight capacity of the Sunny Health and Fitness treadmill is 220 pounds. This is quite a lot less than you’d find with more expensive models, limiting this machine’s use to people who are under that weight.
No Auto Incline
Even though this treadmill comes with a 3 way incline, it is a manual incline. That means that you need to get off the running belt and get down on your hands and knees to make the adjustment. Even though this adjustment is a simple procedure, it means that you will be breaking into the flow of your workout if you want to adjust the incline halfway through your session. This could be a major hassle for some people.
As you’d expect from a treadmill in the economical price bracket, you get a much lower motor capacity with this unit than you would with a commercial machine. It provides you with a 2.20 Peak HP Drive System. This gives you enough engine power to run at a maximum speed of 9.0 miles per hour. This will be sufficient for most walking and light jogging applications. However, don’t expect to be able to perform a high intensity interval training workout on this treadmill.
You only get a one-year warranty with the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-T4400. This is quite a low level of protection in comparison to the marketplace.
The Sunny Heath and Fitness SF-T4400 provides you with a functional, solid cardio workout. It is not designed for a heavy duty training session, but will perfectly suit the purposes of the general exercise enthusiast. It is hard to beat the price and overall quality of this unit.
Light Weight and Strong
The Weslo Cadence G5.9 is a solid, compact unit. It provides you with a sturdy steel frame. It is able to be folded for compact storage when not in use. The treadmill feels very rigid and secure when you are running on it. There is none of the rickety side-to- side sway that comes with many competitors at this price point.
The maximum user weight of the Weslo G59 is 250 pounds – 30 pounds more than the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-T4400.
This machine has been made using a space saver design which makes it very user friendly in confined spaces. The footprint is 64.5 inches long and 29 inches wide.
The Weslo Cadence G5.9 can be picked up for less than $300, making it an amazingly well priced treadmill. The deal includes free shipping and comes with 90-day parts and labor and one-year motor warranty. As with the Sunny, this is quite a limited level of protection.
Instant Heart Rate
The Weslo Cadence G5.9 comes with a thumb monitor to allow you to get a reading of your heart rate. This is a more accurate measure than the handle bar sensor method, allowing you to more precisely track your training pulse rate.
The Weslo provides you with the ability to manually adjust the angle of ramp to two different settings. This gives you the opportunity to increase training intensity.
You get 6 built-in training programs with the Weslo Cadence G5.9. This allows you to vary your training and focus in on specific workouts targeted toward fat loss, heart rate improvement and cardio endurance. The programs run smoothly.
The console on this treadmill is clear and easy to read. It has an LCD screen with a blue tint. A readout is provided of your speed, distance, calories burned and elapsed time.
The Weslo G5.9 is quite noisy when in operation. This is due to the thin running belt and the small rollers over which it runs. This treadmill is also fitted with many plastic parts which are not sealed at the joints, which also contributes to the noise.
No Place to Store Your Accessories
There is no provision on the console of the G5.9 to place your iPad, tablet or other device. This is a noticeable omission as most other treadmills under $500 do include this feature. There is also no water bottle holder in this treadmill.
Not For Running
The Weslo G5.9 is designed as a walking, rather than a running treadmill. It has a 2.25 HP motor, which provides you with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. This won’t provide you with the oomph you need for a serious workout. The running track is also too small to allow you to stretch your legs while running.
The Weslo Cadence G5.9 is an entry level home treadmill that is designed for walking exercise only. It provides you with fewer programs and incline levels than the Sunny Heath and Fitness treadmill. The track size is too small for a serious workout. However this is the best price you are likely to find under $500.
The ProForm Performance 300i Treadmill is a compact, light home use treadmill. It is compact and portable, coming with transport wheels. This unit is also foldable for easy storage when your workout is finished.
Auto Incline Adjustment
A feature that you normally don’t find on a budget treadmill is auto incline adjustment. However, you do get that with this machine. The auto adjustment is between 0 and 10%. This allows you to smoothly increase the ramp level as you are exercising, so you can increase intensity without interrupting your workout.
Better Quality Heart Rate Monitoring
The majority of low priced treadmills provide you with a low quality heart rate sensor built into the hand rails. These are generally inaccurate. However, the ProForm 300i allows you to attach a chest strap for a much more accurate count of your training pulse.
The chest strap is not provided but can be purchased separately for around $70. This addition will provide you with the most accurate pulse tracking ability you can get on a treadmill. Being able to accurately monitor your pulse is the best way to train for fat loss and cardio efficiency.
The console on the ProForm 300i is of a quality that you normally don’t get at this price range. It gives you access to 16 workout programs, each of which has been designed by a top personal trainer. This is 10 more programs than you get with the Weslo and 7 more than the Sunny. What’s even better is that this treadmill allows you to use iFit. This opens up a virtually unlimited level of training options to you. You even get access to Google Maps TM, so you can simulate any training environment worldwide.
The large LCD display makes it easy to read your training data from any angle. You get training data on your 1/4 mile track, elapsed time, distance, speed, calories burned and heart rate.
Good Level of Protection
The warranty on this product is 5 years on the frame and motor and 90 days on parts and labor. This is five time more than you get on our top 2 picks, and is very generous for a treadmill priced at under $500.
The ProForm treadmill provides you with a low impact training experience. This is thanks to the addition of Proshox cushioning which lessens the impact of every step.
This treadmill allows you to plug your iPod into the decent speaker system so that you can listen to your favorite music while you’re working out.
The console on this treadmill is equipped with a secure holder for your tablet, phone or any other type of entertainment that you wish to accompany your workout.
Not Enough Room to Run
The biggest drawback with the ProForm 300i is the limited running track. With a bed measuring just 16 inches by 50 inches, it is rather limiting when you are trying to naturally move your legs, especially when running. That means that you have to really be focusing on where your foot is landing when you start running hard.
Not for Running
As with other treadmills in this price range, you are unable to get a serious run on this unit. That is because of the limited size of the motor. This machine provides you with 2.0 HP engine, allowing for a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. That will allow for a medium run, but, as already noted, the limited running track will make this difficult. Your best bet is to consider this to be a walking and light jogging treadmill only.
The ProForm Performance 300i can be purchased for between $50 and $500. This makes it the most expensive of our range under $500. It is the only model in our range that provides you with auto incline and chest based heart rate potential, however.
Compact and Portable
There are a number of Confidence Power Pro treadmills that come into the sub $500 price point. The GTO is the most compact. It features wheels for ease of transport and is foldable for ease of storage. It has a foot print of just 52 inches long and 21.2 inches wide. When folded this becomes 54 inches x 25.5 inches by 23 inches.
The total weight of this machine is just 62 pounds.
The Confidence GTR Power Pro provides you with 12 different workout programs. That is a very good number for a treadmill that you can pick up for less than $300. The range of programs includes fat loss, cardio and heart rate programs, and each one is designed by a fitness specialist.
The Cadence GTO Power Pro allows for 3 way incline variation. This is, however, a manual incline which requires that you get off the machine and set the incline at the front of the treadmill.
High User Weight
The Cadence GTR Power Pro allows for a max user weight of 250 pounds. This is a generous level of capacity for a machine in this price range, being higher than both the Sunny Health and Fitness and the Weslo Cadence models.
You can purchase the Cadence GTR Power Pro for under $300. This makes it very good value, especially when you consider that you get 12 workout programs.
This treadmill only allows you to travel at a max speed of 7.5 miles per hour. That will only allow you to get in a fast walk or a light jog, so don’t expect to do any serious running on this unit.
Wobbly at High Speeds
When you get the speed of this machine over 5 miles per hour, it is likely to shake slightly. This provides a feeling of instability which does little to instill training confidence.
The Cadence GTR Power Pro is a compact, lightweight treadmill that is ok for beginners who are after a walking or light jogging workout. However, it has neither the power or the strength of structure to allow for anything beyond that.
High User Weight
The Exerpeutic TF1000 has a maximum user weight of 400 pounds, which is very good for a budget treadmill. This speaks to the solid construction of the unit and means that this machine can be used by all members of the family.
At a total length of 51 inches and a width of 32 inches, this machine is compact enough to be able to be used in small apartments and other confined spaces. It is a foldable machine, so can be easily stored when not being used.
Easy to Assemble
The Exerpeutic TF1000 comes partly assembled. It will only take two people about 30 minutes to put the rest of it together.
This treadmill provides you with a large emergency stop safety key which is located in the center of the main console. You will also notice that the handrails are extended to provide more support when you are exercising.
Not Much Power
You only get a 1.5 HP motor on this treadmill. That only provides you with a top speed of four miles per hour, meaning that you can only power walk on this unit. It provides the lowest top speed of any of the treadmills in our range.
There are no inbuilt workout programs with the Exerpeutic TF1000. This means that you are on your own when it comes to the actual structure of your training. This is disappointing as most treadmills, even in this price range, provide you with several inbuilt programs.
You do not have the ability to adjust the running bed for an incline workout on this machine.
Impact on Walking Track
The Exerpeutic TF1000 does not provide you with any running track cushioning. This makes it a little rough on the joints, especially the ankles. This would be more of an issue if you were running on the machine.
The Exerpeutic TF1000 s a very basic walking treadmill. It is a walking treadmill that will suit beginners. It’s key positive is that it will take up to 400 pounds of user weight. It’s major limiting factors are the low HP motor that only gives it a max speed of 4 miles per hour and the lack of programs.