The Best Budget Treadmills in 2022 – Sports Illustrated

Best budget treadmills

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Whether you’re a regular runner or walker, or just beginning your fitness journey, a home treadmill makes it much easier to reap the health benefits of daily exercise. And while the market is flooded with plenty of high-end, elaborate treadmills, a budget-friendly model offers you a similar experience, albeit without all the bells and whistles like tracking information. We’ve curated a list of our favorite budget treadmills available, along with a guide to finding the best one for your personal exercise needs.

The treadmills on this list range in price from about $330 to $1,200, each filling a specific need for users on a budget. For example, foldable options and treadmills with smaller footprints are ideal for runners and walkers who live in small apartments, while smart treadmills will help scratch that data-tracking itch. Read on for our top picks for budget treadmills, as well as discussion on why treadmills are beneficial, how to use them and important features to consider when purchasing a budget treadmill.

Our Picks for the Best Budget Treadmills:

Nordictrack EXP 7.1

Running regularly can put you at higher risk for knees, ankles, or hip pain, so protecting your legs and joints is necessary to avoid injury. The Nordictrack EXP 7.1 is designed to prioritize joint health, which is why we selected it for the best budget cushioned treadmill. The base has a built-in cushioning system that can be engaged to soften the vibration and impact of your steps, or disengaged for a stiffer, more sidewalk-like feel.Like the Carbon T7 above, the Nordictrack EXP 7.1 has a 7-inch touchscreen that’s compatible with the iFit app. When used with the interactive routes, the treadmill automatically adjusts your speed and incline to mimic the terrain in the pre-recorded route videos. The $15/month subscription is required to run the treadmill, and also includes instructor-led yoga, cross training, and strength training to round out your workout routine.The EXP 7.1 has a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour and a maximum incline of 12 percent grade. Individual buttons for each speed and level of incline between 1 and 12 line either side of the console, making it easy to select your pace and change quickly if you’re doing an interval workout.It has two speakers incorporated into the console with high and low volume options, but is also compatible with Bluetooth headphones should you need your trainer to keep it down during a pre-dawn or late-night workout. This can also come in handy for the non-running workouts the program offers — if you need to fold up the base for a little extra room for your strength session, you’ll still be able to hear the instructor clearly through your headphones.The 20-by-60-inch belt offers one of the longer stride length options of the models on this list, perfect for working in those lunges into your cool down. An integrated fan system with two settings helps keep your sweat to a minimum as you crush those miles.


Buy Nordictrack EXP 7.1 ($1,099)


Proform Carbon T7

If connectivity and data tracking is a priority for you, consider the $999 Proform Carbon T7. This high-quality smart treadmill has a built-in 7-inch touchscreen that not only shows and stores your run data, but it can play interactive workout videos to keep your runs engaging and effective. The Carbon T7 is compatible with the iFit training app, which offers videos with engaging personal trainers, recorded studio sessions and outdoor routes at breathtaking locations. For example, one cross training session takes place in the middle of a busy street in Florence, Italy.

The app is included with the treadmill for the first 30 days, and then after that it’s $15 a month for an individual subscription, or $39 a month for family (five total users). The program also offers interactive route options that automatically adjust the treadmill’s speed and incline as you go along. It records each training session and tracks your progress, plus it allows you to upload workouts to fitness apps like Strava.

In addition to the screen, the console has buttons that allow you to directly select any whole-number speed or incline percentage between 1 and 10 quickly. You can also adjust your speed and incline incrementally with arrow buttons on the console. The built-in fan on the console stand has three different speeds to keep you cool at various levels of exertion, and two incorporated speakers project your trainer’s instructions while you run.

The base of the Carbon T7 is designed with a shock absorbing belt deck and non-flex rollers, which the company claims should keep wear and tear to a minimum. While it has a belt size in the same realm as other models on this list (20 inches wide and 55 inches long), it has one of the bigger footprints at 35 inches wide and 74 inches long, offering a lot of stability. The good news is the base does fold up to save you a little floor space when not in use. It does have wheels you can tip it onto for relocating, but it weighs over 200 pounds, so it’s not ideal to pull out and then stash away again every time you work out; this model is best for a home gym or house where it can have a permanently accessible location.


Buy Proform Carbon T7 ($999)


Schwinn 810 treadmill

If floor space is at a premium where you live, a foldable treadmill can come in handy: When not in use, the running deck folds up and stores vertically against the console. The folding mechanism on the Schwinn Fitness 810 is built with SoftDrop technology, which is designed to provide a slow and controlled unfolding and folding process. Just lower the base, lock it into place, and hop on to the 22-inch wide band to get rolling. It accommodates a max speed of 10 miles per hour for interval work, and it raises to an inclined grade of up to 10 percent to mimic running or walking uphill for an added challenge. When you’re done with your workout, the whole unit can be tipped onto its wheels and relocated into a closet or spare room.

The console features a 3 ½ by 5 1/2 -inch LCD display that has 16 workouts and allows you to program up to two user profiles. Similar to higher-end models from brands like NordicTrack or Peloton, the Schwinn Fitness 810 allows users to virtually run or walk pre-recorded routes for a more engaging workout. Users can subscribe to Explore the World, an app that offers 50 video routes from different destinations across the globe through your phone or tablet. The video speed automatically adjusts to match your pace, too, for a more realistic experience. When you workout with the app, you can save your workout distance, speed, time, calories, and pace, which you can upload to tracking apps like MyFitnessPal or Zwift. Like most of these fitness apps it’s not free—the Explore the World app is available on iOS for $13.49 a month or an annual subscription of $79.99 a year. Android users can get it for $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year. The treadmill also features a USB port for charging devices so you don’t have to plan your workout around your tablet’s battery level.


Buy Schwinn Fitness 810 ($899.99)


Xterra TR150

The XTERRA Fitness TR150 is another high-quality folding option similar to the model above, but at less than half the price. While this difference is perhaps reflected in its shorter features list, it still offers a great platform for your workout.

This treadmill folds up in the same motion as the Schwinn model, with the base raising up to meet the console stand. Its running band is 16 inches wide with a 50 inch length, making the entire base smaller than the Schwinn as well: almost six inches shorter and seven inches narrower. This is ideal for home gyms or apartments where you not only want to store the treadmill in a small space, but you don’t have a lot of room to use it either.

In addition to its space-saving feature, the 5-inch LCD display on the console helps you track your workout in real time. It displays your elapsed time, distance, calories, heart rate, current speed (it goes up to 10 miles per hour) and incline. However, it does not record your workout or have Bluetooth capabilities to connect with any apps. The base has three manual incline options, which users can adjust at the rear corners of the base using a locking pin system. While most users didn’t have trouble operating the manual incline, many remarked that it was a negligible amount of inclination. “Not much of an incline if you’re looking for it,” as purchaser Rimabeans puts it in their five-stay review. The console also offers 12 preset workouts you can cycle through to keep your walk or run engaging. You can also program the preset buttons to your favorite speeds for quick changes during sprinting or high-intensity treadmill workouts.

Additionally, it’s highly rated on Amazon with a 4.4-star rating out of five from 15,815 reviews. One particularly convincing reviewer named Heather Garrison says, “This treadmill has totally surprised me! Two years later and it still functions perfectly! The motor still sounds as new as the day I assembled it, the tread still moves smoothly, and all the buttons and programs still work flawlessly.” While it might not have all the bells, whistles, and connectivity of other models, if it ticks all your boxes then it’s a great investment in your fitness future.


Buy XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill ($425.79)


GoPlus 2 in 1 Folding treadmill

At an even more affordable price than the XTERRA model, the Goplus is the cheapest option on our list. It also folds up differently than the rest of the options on this list: Instead of the base tipping up to meet the console, the arms are removable and the console folds down on either side of the base. This makes it super easy to use beneath a standing desk or slide under a bed for easy storage. It also features a narrower running belt than other options on this list by about 4 inches, at 16 inches wide by 40 inches long. This creates a smaller footprint overall: It’s 49 inches long and 22 inches wide, which allows it to roll (it has wheels) into most coat closets vertically for storage.

It’s a lighter-duty treadmill designed for slightly slower speeds than others with more heft. The Goplus’ maximum speed with the stand and rails removed is 2.5 miles an hour, a brisk walking pace. With the stand raised and handles attached, the max speed is 7.5 miles per hour.

The Goplus 2 in 1 has quite a few other features that make it ideal for use while you’re working at a standing desk. One of those is the sound level: The lower-power motor is designed to be quieter and less disruptive in the office or to other people working at home with you. Additionally, the speed is controlled via a remote control rather than buttons on a console. So when the stand is folded down, speed adjustments are still easily within reach.

The console display automatically toggles between time, speed, distance and calories burned as you work out. It also has a built-in speaker so you can play music or podcasts from your phone. You can also connect the Goplus Treadmill to your phone via the Gymax app, which allows you to record your workout data, as well as control the treadmill speed from your phone. Unfortunately, this free app is pretty bare-bones. It doesn’t provide any sort of aggregate workout data or allow you to connect with other apps like Strava or TrainingPeaks. This treadmill is more ideal for users looking to incorporate some more walking into their day who already have a separate personal fitness tracker like a smartwatch or FitBit if they’re interested in logging their workout data.


Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill ($329.99)


UREVO Strol 2 under desk treadmill

The UREVO Strol 2 is another great folding treadmill option for users looking for a treadmill specifically for walking on while working at a standing desk. It’s only 6 inches thick, so it won’t boost you so tall that you can’t reach your elevated desktop while you stand on it. Like the Goplus, it’s a two-in-one model, meaning it has a walking mode and a running mode, depending on the position of the upright frame. Another benefit to the simplicity of this model is how easy it is to get started on it — it’s ready to roll right out of the box.

With the upright frame folded down in walking mode, the Strol 2 has a speed range of 0.6-3.8 miles per hour, ideal for anyone looking to add some moderate movement or light cardio to their daily routine. If you lift the arms and console to put the treadmill into running mode, it can speed up to accommodate a pace up to 7.6mph.

The console is pretty basic, with a device stand to hold a phone or tablet, and an integrated LED display that shows your time, speed, distance and calories. It does not support Bluetooth connectivity, so there’s no accompanying app. So if you’re keen on recording your mileage and progress, this treadmill is best used with an activity tracker or smartwatch. With the console raised, you can start, stop and adjust your speed with a single knob in the center of the interface. If you’ve got the console lowered and tucked under a desk, you can still control it with the included remote.

The moving belt is 16.5 inches wide and 42.5 inches long, which is on the normal-to-narrow side of the spectrum of treadmills on this list. This makes it less-than-ideal for extra tall users or runners with a wide or long gait. Beneath the belt, the cushioned deck has eight silicon shock absorbers designed to soften your footsteps for a more comfortable workout; it can support users up to 265 pounds. If you’re looking for something light-duty to help you incorporate some extra movement into your daily routine, the UREVO Strol 2 might be right for you.


Buy UREVO Under Desk Treadmill ($369.97)


Horizon 7.0 AT

While many budget treadmills sit at lower price points because they’re light-duty, easy to move machines, that is not the case with the Horizon 7.0 AT. This hefty, 253-pound model is built to be more sturdy and durable than the average budget treadmill, so you won’t have to worry about the base shaking during sprints. It has a maximum user weight capacity of 325 pounds, which is more than most other models in this price range.

The 60-inch running belt is designed to sit at the balance point between flexibility and support for optimal joint cushioning. It’s 20 inches wide, which is only two inches narrower than the widest model we have on this list, still offering ample room for long, wide gaits. The belt is lined with a suspension technology that Horizon refers to as 3-Zone Variable Response Cushioning; The area below the front one-third of the belt is more flexible to absorb impact, the center one-third is the “neutral zone,” and the rear one-thid is firmer to provide resistance as you push off. Verified Buyer Jacqueline S. wrote, “The cushion support really helps on the knees while running.”

Some built-in bells and whistles of the 7.0 AT include a display showing calories burned, distance, heart rate (connect your Bluetooth heart rate strap, or use the contact hand grips that measure it), incline, speed and elapsed time.

The treadmill’s Bluetooth connectivity allows you to follow workouts on Zwift and stream classes from Peloton, as well as Nike Run Club and other fitness apps. It also has a handful of built-in workouts into the software, but they’re pretty basic. The console’s data screen can then be transmitted to a Bluetooth-connected phone or tablet and recorded. Bonus: The USB-A port allows you to charge your device so you don’t run out of juice mid-workout. Blast your instructor, your music, or both through the integrated speakers, or plug in your headphones if you need to keep it quiet as you work up a sweat.

The high-powered motor is designed to respond quickly to changes in pace without lagging, so your interval transitions will be clean and quick. Adjust the speed (up to 10 mph) and incline (up to 15 percent) manually with the buttons on the console, or let your on-screen program dictate the changes automatically.

If you don’t subscribe to any fitness apps, you can still take advantage of the seven included workout programs designed to help you train for a 5K, burn calories, increase your distance, burn fat, imitate a hill climb or train near your max heart rate.


Buy Horizon 7.0 AT ($999)


Sunny Health and Fitness T4400

Out of all the sub-$500 treadmills on this list, the Sunny Health & Fitness T4400 has the most capabilities and the highest number of positive online reviews: 4.4 stars out of 5 from nearly 8,000 reviews on Amazon. Users had lots of good things to say about the ease of daily use. Several also spoke highly of its longevity. “4.5 years of almost daily use + one house move later and this thing is still running,” one named Rae Rae wrote. That’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

While it is relatively streamlined in terms of features, it’s got everything you need to get in a good workout. The digital monitor displays your speed, time, distance and estimated calories burned. When you grip the heart rate monitor pads on the handrail, it will also display your heart rate so you can target your training zones and optimize your workout. Start, stop and adjust your speed up to 9 miles per hour with the built-in handrail controls (you can increase or decrease by increments of .1 mph to dial in your ideal pace). You can also directly select 2, 4, or 6 miles per hour with the quick pace-picker buttons. The options for incline levels (flat, 2 percent, and 4.37 percent) are adjusted manually via pin-and-hole system from the rear.

One thing that the T4400 has that isn’t available on many others in this price range is a pause function: You can stop the treadmill, jump off and refill your water bottle, and then restart it without losing the data from the first half of your workout. Unfortunately, this treadmill is not Bluetooth compatible, so there isn’t much you can do with the cohesive data once you’ve finished the workout, but you can manually input it into a training log or Strava. If you’re blanking on what to do for your workout that day, glean inspiration from one of the nine workout modes that come pre-installed. A device holder lets you follow along with any workout subscription or training videos you might already have.

It’s also a foldable treadmill—the base lifts up to meet the handlebar for easy storage. The hydraulic release mechanism in the base is designed to allow users to disengage it from the locked position when stored and the base will gently lower itself to the floor. It’s designed for a maximum user weight capacity of 220 pounds and has a slightly narrow belt at 15.5 inches wide, so it’s not ideal for users who are large in stature.


Buy Sunny T4400 ($384.99)


Sole F63

The Sole F63 was designed for durability, with your toughest workouts in mind. It’s our favorite for simulated hill workouts because of the number of incline options it offers: 15, that are easy to adjust between. Toggle through your options of incline with the arrow buttons, or choose between any of the seven direct-selection options. Same goes for speed: Dial in your pace slowly, or jump right to where you want to be with any of the seven pace-selecting buttons between 1 and 12 miles per hour. There are also buttons on the arm rests to make it easier to adjust both of these functions at faster speeds.

The 6.5-inch LCD screen displays the level of incline you’ve selected, as well as your speed, time, distance traveled, calories and pace. Connect the included heart rate monitor strap, connect your own, or simply grip the pulse-reading handlebar to display your current heart rate.

Other perks here include a tablet stand, Bluetooth speakers for your music or workout video, and a USB port for device charging. It also has a built-in fan system to help keep you cool. You can also upload your workout data to Fitbit, Record, Mapmyrun or Apple Health by connecting your phone or tablet to the treadmill via bluetooth. The F63 comes with six preloaded workout programs, and includes a 400m track feature as well as a peak and valley graph function for when you’re running the incline-specific programs.

On top of the stellar incline system, the whole treadmill is simply a tank. Its steel frame is precision welded and comes with a lifetime warranty. Sole selected a heavy-duty belt and smooth-spinning, sealed-bearing rollers, and included a flywheel in its motor construction. This addition is designed to help the machine run cooler and smoother, to protect it from wear and tear and to create a fluid feeling of momentum when the belt is running. Sole also claims that the ergonomic belt deck reduces joint impact by 40 percent, but it’s unclear if that’s compared to similar treadmills or an outdoor surface. Either way, if you’re looking for a budget buy that’s solid and sturdy to attack your intervals on for years to come, this might be the treadmill for you.


Buy Sole F63 ($1,199.99)


Nautilus T616

While most of the treadmills on this list are fully capable of facilitating a running workout, the Nautilus T616 is our favorite for running because of its large library of preloaded workouts into the actual software of the treadmill, as well as its Bluetooth compatibility with running app Explore the World if you have it on your phone or tablet. Like with the Schwinn 810, this allows it to respond to terrain data during your workout, so when you go uphill in the video, the incline on the treadmill automatically adjusts to mimic it. But unlike when you purchase the Schwinn 810, you receive a free version of the Explore the World app when you buy the T616, which has 27 route videos from 19 locations (the paid version has many more). The Bluetooth also makes it easy to sync your workout data with your favorite fitness tracking apps outside of Explore the World.

The workouts include 26 programs in six categories: manual, quick goal (a certain time, distance, or calories burned), train, weight control, hearth health, and intervals, plus an option to create and save four custom workouts. One-touch keys on the console allow you to select a speed between one and 12 miles per hour, and choose an incline from 12 different levels as well. It has a fan, speakers, quick-select buttons for workouts, adjustment arrows for speed and incline, and multiple user profiles. It’s also got an audio input port so you can blast your own playlist.

In terms of hardware, the T616 has a sturdy frame with 300-pound maximum user weight, and an ergonomically designed cushioning system to soften your footfalls and damp extra noise. The space-saving foldable system lets you raise the base up into the console stand for storage. When you’re ready to use it again, disengage the locking mechanism and the hydraulics allow the base to lower itself slowly to the ground without your assistance — and without slamming. With all these features, the Nautilus T616 offers pretty much all we could ask for in a home gym set up at this price point.


Buy Nautilus T616 ($999)


Why Buy a Budget Treadmill?

Aside from the low initial investment, there are a few more benefits to purchasing a budget treadmill. If you’re buying your first treadmill, the low financial commitment allows you to try out incorporating walking or running into your at-home workout routine with a lower cost if you find it doesn’t work for you. And if you find that it does, you have the opportunity to upgrade later if you find you outgrow the entry level one or that a higher-level model would better suit your needs. If you’re not much of a data-tracker, a budget treadmill without all the stats and connectivity might be just what you need to establish an at-home running routine.

Many budget treadmills are great if you’re trying to conserve floor space in a small apartment. Because the models in this price range are lighter-duty, they are also easy to relocate than the hefty, higher-priced models. Additionally, each one on this list is designed with some sort of folding technology or wheels to make it easier to store when not in use. If you value storability a bit more than robustness, many budget treadmills have a fine balance between the two.

What Is Incline on a Treadmill?

While most treadmills have a rotating belt that simulates a road and allows you to walk in place, some have the added feature of simulating an uphill grade. They do this by allowing you to change the angle of the belt deck. This offers a way to incorporate different muscle groups into your workout, as well as a way to add intensity without requiring a higher speed.

Some treadmills achieve an inclined position by mechanically elevating the front with just a button, and others require you to manually lower the rear end of the deck to raise the belt angle. The manual options usually only offer two or three different angles, while more expensive versions can offer up to 15 different levels of incline.

How to Use a Treadmill

To get started exercising on a treadmill, first make sure it’s plugged in and turned on. Begin with your feet on the edges of the machine on either side of the belt, and then start the machine at the slowest speed. Step your feet onto the belt and start walking in place. Increase the speed and incline as you’re comfortable until you find the pace and intensity you’re looking for, and complete your workout from there.

What to Look for in a Budget Treadmill

Each of the features below differ slightly from model to model, so based on what you’re looking for in a treadmill, these will help you get a sense of what qualities to prioritize.

Power

The power of a treadmill, usually measured in continuous horsepower (CHP), is directly related to the highest sustained speed it can hold. For walkers, a 2.0 horsepower continuous duty motor will be plenty, but if you’re planning to run on your treadmill regularly something closer to 3.0 will be more suitable.

Size

As with any large piece of furniture or workout equipment, it’s best to choose a treadmill that suits the space you’ll be using it in. Most manufacturers list the machine’s dimensions on the product site, allowing you to take a measuring tape to the area you have available and see if it will fit. If you’re considering a treadmill with a base that folds up to the console stand, keep in mind the height it will gain at when folded as well and make sure it won’t collide with any shelving or devices mounted to the wall.

Cushioning

One major benefit of walking or running on a treadmill versus pavement is the cushioning features available. This technology comes in many forms on different models, all of which are designed to soften the impact of your footsteps in order to protect your joints and muscles. There isn’t really a standard measurement of cushioning between manufacturers, so if this is a crucial feature to you, we suggest investing in a model with a risk-free trial period so you can test it out for yourself and see if they deliver what you need.

Incline and Speed

Based on the types of workouts you plan to do on your treadmill, it’s beneficial to be aware of the maximum speed and incline options of the model you’re considering. If you’re following a training plan that involves hill repeats and high-intensity intervals, you should make sure your treadmill has automatic incline capability and can match your highest speeds. You might need to do a little math since most models list their speeds in miles per hour, rather than by mile pace, but most of them are pretty generous. The lowest top speed of any model on this list is 7.5 miles per hour (the Goplus 2 in 1), which accommodates an eight-minute mile pace. Most of them go up to 12 miles per hour though, which is a five-minute mile pace, which should allow even the quickest runners to really get after it.

Weight Capacity

Each model lists a maximum user weight capacity, which is basically a function of how durable they are. The higher the user weight, the more resistant they will be to wear and tear caused by heavier users.

Bluetooth Connectivity

A treadmill with Bluetooth capabilities can greatly enhance your workout experience. Some of the most interactive smart treadmills offer the option to connect the treadmill’s motor with a seperate device as you watch a route or class video, and will change the speed and incline of your run automatically to mimic the workout you selected.

Some more simple versions of Bluetooth capabilities will allow you to play music from your phone through the treadmill speakers, and upload your workout data once you’ve finished to a tracking app like Zwift or MyFitnessPal. Others on this list don’t have any Bluetooth compatibility at all, which is best for people who prefer to track their activity using a smartwatch, or who just want to get moving without worrying so much about the numbers.

Assembly and Warranty

The delivery and warranty options from the treadmill manufacturer offer a good indication of the quality of the product, as well as the level of customer service you’ll receive from the company. Often for an extra payment on top of the delivery fee, many companies and retailers (including Amazon) will assemble your new treadmill for you. The assembly services even include positioning it exactly where you want it and disposing of all the packaging.

Before purchasing your treadmill, look up the warranty on the frame, motor and other moving parts. This will give you a good idea of how durable and long-lasting the machine is supposed to be, as well as how much maintenance and replacement parts are going to be required. Look for models with at least a six-month warranty for the motor and belt, and at least three years for the frame (this is the standard for most treadmill manufacturers in the industry). This gives you enough time to find out if something is going to go wrong or a part is defective, and have it replaced or fixed for free.

Treadmill Maintenance

Most treadmills require some very basic maintenance in order to keep them running smoothly and quietly, ultimately aiming to increase their longevity. The number one thing that gets worn out on treadmills in the belt; they tend to stretch and wear from use, so you might need to tighten, loosen, or straighten the belt periodically to keep it running properly. Or to prevent it from chafing around the edges.

Another way you can prevent premature wear and tear is keeping it clean. One should always wipe down sweat and water from your treadmill after you use it to prevent rust, and vacuum it weekly, especially if you have pets, to prevent dust, hair, or other particles from making their way into the motor. It’s also prudent to lubricate the underside of your treadmill belt about once a year. How to do this varies between models, so check your treadmill’s manual for specific directions.

Final Thoughts

As evidenced by this list of quality treadmills, a lower price doesn’t necessarily mean an inferior product. The range of treadmills at varying price points across the “budget” category offer a bevy of features and capabilities. We have confidence that one of these models will fit your needs and keep you moving towards your health and fitness goals.

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

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