The Best home treadmills under $500 – Are there any good models to buy

by Jack on May 23, 2016

What are the best treadmills you can buy for under $500?

Especially for cardio and weight loss work-outs, the treadmill is one of the most popular and useful pieces of home exercise equipment a person can own. However, most people are first-time buyers who don’t have great familiarity on what to look for when judging the quality of these machines or how to compare different models in order to find the best value for their money.

Here we provide a few important tips to follow when buying, as well as, more than a few recommendations in the (around) $500 and under price range. We say, “around $500”, because leaving a good choice off the list only because it might be priced a bit over didn’t make much sense.

We put this list together in 2016 but will be updating the list when new models become available.

From higher to lower price

How to choose a good quality machine? Before basing your decision on certain “extras” such as does it fold or does it have incline, how about exercise programs? Before doing this, we recommend you first narrow down your choices by examining the most important features for a functional treadmills.

How do we decide which models to include on this list? The only common sense way to do this is by judging the quality of the most important features of a treadmill: Motor, frame, tread belt, cushion system, warranty.

Rule #1 – Motor

Cheap Running treadmill

NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

The most important thing to know about a treadmill’s motor is the style. As you look at and read specifications of different treadmills that interest you in the $500 price range you may come across treadmills with different styles of motors. Buying a model with the style of motor called, Continuous Duty Horse Power (CHP) is highly recommended.

This style (CHP) is by far the most efficient and durable. By the way, every treadmill model recommended on this list includes a CHP motor. If you do not want to trust our word on CHP being the best type of motor then here is a good resource to read from which explains why in detail.

Horsepower for runners

Besides the style of motor (CHP) then you also need to pay attention to the amount or horsepower provided. This is most important to people who want a home treadmill for running. Are there models in the around $500 price range we would recommend for running?

As a rule of thumb, the lowest horsepower we recommend for running is a treadmill with a 2.5 (CHP) horsepower motor.

Pictured above and below is the Nordictrack T 6.5 S Treadmill this model might be over the amount of money you wanted to spend. However, if you are looking for an affordable home model for running then you might want to consider the NordicTrack T 6.5 S treadmill. Currently as we write this in 2016 this is one of the cheapest models we would recommend for running. It includes a 2.6 horsepower motor and also a 55-inch long running platform. Both of these specifications are very important.

Cheap Running treadmill

Affordable option for runners

Best treadmills under 500

ProForm 505 CST Treadmill

Another option priced very close to $500 (in 2016) is the ProForm 505 CST Treadmill it meets the requirement of having at least a 2.5 horsepower motor for running and also a 55-inch running platform.

Overall this model has received good customer feedback and reviews. However, we want to remind you, especially those of you who may have belong to a gym and exercised on the big and “expensive” commercial models typically found at gyms. Even the best treadmills in the around $500 and under price range will not compare to what you may have used at a gym before.

Some decent options do exist but please do not read our advice here thinking we are saying these are the absolutely best treadmills to buy. Don’t expect the same quality as model you may have used at the gym.

While the ProForm 505 CST has received good reviews from customers, keep price range in perspective. A model costing $500 receiving a 4 or 5 star rating doesn’t mean it is equal to a model costing $1000 or more which also receives a 4 or 5 rating.

Rule #2 – Frame

running treadmills under 500

ProForm Performance 400i Treadmill

When searching for the right treadmill we would advise to buy one with a steel frame. When looking at different models you may come across a few which have aluminum frames. In our opinion and many others also hold the same opinion steel frames are superior for more than a few reasons.

All models you find on this page do have frames manufactured from steel.

Rule #3 – Tread Belt

The tread belt or this could also be called the walking or running platform is important to look at for a couple different reasons.

First, they come in different “thicknesses” which will effect their durability and/or lifetime. The treadmills recommended on this page will by 2-ply thickness. Yes, thicker belts do exist. Down the line, if you happen to need a replacement belt then you probably got a lot of good exercise from the machine and belts (under $100) are not extremely expensive to replace.

reviews of treadmills under 500

Walk and Jogging

Probably the more important characteristic is the dimensions (width x length) of the belt. If you are looking for a machine to run on then the shortest length we would recommend is 54 – inches. This is the bare minimum. If you only plan to exercise by walking or jogging then for obvious reasons the platform doesn’t need to be quite as long, however, for a nice comfortable experience we would recommend trying to stay around 48-inches in length for walking and jogging.

What machines would we recommend for runners? The only machines on this page we would recommend looking at are the three already listed above.

  • Nordictrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
  • ProForm 505 CST Treadmill
  • ProForm-Performance-400i-Treadmill

These three models all meet the requirements of motor and tread belt size. If your exercise plans include only walking and maybe some light jogging below are more affordable models which can meet these

treadmills under 500 dollars

Walking and Jogging


Rule #4 – Cushion System

This is the feature of the treadmill that is designed with the intention of absorbing and dissipating some of the force as your foot hits down on the platform as you exercise. Realistically, at the $500 and under price range there will we a noticeable difference when compared to more expensive models.

With that said, because of the nature (intensity) of the exercises running vs. walking the more intense exercise of running will obviously notice the higher level of difference in the cushion systems of less expensive models compared to the more expensive models they my have exercised on in the past at a gym.

Best Jogging treadmills under 500

Walking or Jogging

Rule #5 – Warranty

The warranty is a very important part of the treadmill to look at before buying. The two most important parts to inform yourself on are the guarantees provided on the motor and frame.

On more expensive models you should expect a lifetime guarantee on both the motor and frame. However, on less expensive models these usually take a hit. Many times you can still find the frame still under lifetime warranty but the motor’s guarantee is usually reduced. For example:

  • Nordictrack T 6.5 S Treadmill – Frame lifetime/Motor 25 years
  • ProForm 505 CST Treadmill – Frame lifetime/Motor 25 years
  • ProForm Performance 400i Treadmill – Frame lifetime/Motor 25 years

Buying the Best treadmills under $500

If you are wanting to buy a treadmill in this price range we do recommend you look at the 5 most important features which were covered in the review above. Again, these are:

  • Motor
  • Frame
  • Tread belt
  • Cushion System
  • Warranty

The treadmills recommended on this page also have other features like folding, incline, a center console where you will find push button controls for such things as speed and incline. These models also include exercise programs that you can use to improve your workouts. However, before choosing any model because it may have certain “extras” we recommend you first narrow down your choices by examining the most important features for a functional treadmills (bullet points above).

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