During the summer months, it may be a little bit easier to turn to walking or jogging outside as a way to get yourself moving. However, with cooler temperatures, you might have to pivot your current fitness routine back indoors. But that doesn't mean you have to cut yourself short when it comes to cardio.
It's now easier than ever to squeeze in a quick sweat sesh thanks to compact treadmills that can fit right into your home gym setup (or help create it). From manual to electric options, there are plenty of affordable machines out there to help you put in those steps.
While these treadmills won’t give you the same fresh-air feeling as running outdoors, they will give you a stellar workout — regardless of your fitness level.
What to look for in an affordable treadmill
With so many different treadmills on the market with such a wide variety of features, it can be hard to make a decision when shopping. Here are a few things you should consider when looking at any type of treadmill.
Electric treadmills should have a built-in safety feature in the form of either a panic button or a magnetic key that pulls off if the user loses their balance or falls. These will shut off the belt immediately to minimize injury. Other safety features may include rubber bumper pads on the side of the belt and safety rails that can be easily grabbed.
Consider what you plan to use the treadmill for before buying. If your primary form of exercise is running, you’ll want a machine with a stronger shock-absorbing system and a wider belt than what you would need if you were only using it to walk. If you plan to use it while working at a standing desk, a treadmill that works on manual power or has a lower speed range should be fine.
The treadmill should be steady and feel solid, not shaky, when you're using it. Look for sturdy construction, a stable base and solid handrails. The treadmill should also have good shock-absorbing features, especially if you plan to run on it.
Speed and incline settings
If you plan to run on the treadmill, you should look for one that has a wider range of speeds and inclines to accommodate a variety of workouts. Also consider how the speed and inclines are changed: Can you change mid-workout without breaking stride, or do you need to get off the treadmill to adjust the incline? Look for any preset programs you can follow or live-stream connectivity if that’s something you want for your workouts.
Don't forget to consider where you plan to keep it! Some treadmills fold up to a standing position so that they can be placed in a closet, and some fold flat to slide under a bed. If you need to move your treadmill around, make sure it has built-in wheels to make it easier.
Shop TODAY Wellness Awards: Best treadmills of 2023
Award: Best Budget Treadmill
A quiet motor, a speed range of 0.5 mph to 10 mph and a dozen preset workout programs set this bestselling treadmill apart from the rest — not to mention the 12,000+ five-star ratings given by verified customers. The exercise tool also includes cushioned deck technology to provide maximum impact absorption and minimize the stress on your joints during use.
The treadmill has twelve preset programs and three manual incline settings, and it can be easily set up using a one-handed pull knob.
Award: Best Overall Treadmill
Overall, if you're you going to invest in a treadmill, our editors recommend this "interactive" option. The interactive part comes from the thousands of on-demand videos at your fingertips with a membership (you get a free 30-day access!) which are led by professionals in sweat-inducing workouts. Other key features include a smart-response motor, auto-adjustable inclining and special belt cushioning to lessen impact.
"The NordicTrack treadmill is an award-winning at-home treadmill for its spacious yet collapsible design, incline options, and high tech bluetooth connectivity," says celebrity fitness trainer Daniel McKenna. "This treadmill feels and looks like an elite gym machine — an overall great option for at-home workout goers."
Best affordable treadmill under $200
This folding treadmill was the only one we found at the under-$100 price point and fits our criteria — and it's perfect for anyone who just wants to get moving.
You can choose between three incline level adjustments, reach speeds of up to 7.5 mph and take advantage of an LED display to track your time, distance walked, calories burned and speed. Plus, the built-in wheels and foldability make this machine easy to move and store just about anywhere.
But you'll want to hurry — it's available in three colors and they're all selling out quickly.
This manual treadmill is powered by every step you take, so you don’t have to worry about placing it by any outlets or a power source. It operates on two incline positions and tracks your distance, workout time, speed and calories burned.
Plus, its lightweight construction and dual-weighted wheels make for easy portability. It includes a single-button, streamlined monitor and two adjustable incline settings. The treadmill is supported by a smart audio coaching app.
Do you hate running but still want the cardio benefits of a treadmill? This affordable option designed for walking (or even a light jog!) is your best bet. The compact dimensions and foldable design make it perfect for small spaces in homes of all sizes. Track your time, speed, distance and calories on the LCD monitor. Plus, the treadmill requires no plugs or electricity. Simply get on and start walking!
Best affordable treadmills under $350
If you just want to know the basics when it comes to your movements, this electric treadmill is one to consider. It will show you your time, speed, calories, distance and steps while you track your workout via the LED display. It comes with three built-in exercise programs to meet different fitness needs, and the compact and foldable design allows it to be moved and stored easily. It also comes with an emergency stop key for added safety.
If you're working from home and have a standing desk, this Walkstation can help you burn some calories while you attend virtual meetings and respond to messages.
You can reach speeds of up to 3.75 mph, or take it slow at the minimum speed of 0.5 mph. Plus, it's remote control-operated, so you don't have to move from your workspace to make adjustments. It has a slim design that can fit under most any desk, and it comes with active-use detection so the belt will automatically pause if no user is detected after five seconds.
Plus, this treadmill has a power saver mode and a shock-absorbing tread for comfort.
Many of us are still working from home, so it’s likely that you’re doing a lot more sitting and a lot less walking throughout the day. With this treadmill option, you can get a workout in without ever leaving your standing desk.
This device, designed for walking, comes complete with an LED touchscreen to track your workout, as well as a remote control to easily change speeds. It has a wide, 17-inch belt and an emergency brake button included in the remote. It also has rubber struts to absorb shock and cut down on noise while operating the treadmill.
This electric treadmill can reach up to 5 mph and operates on an incline of four levels. It can track your time, distance, speed and calories and even features a user mode, which allows you to set workout times, calorie goals or specific distances.
It has an integrated shock absorption system for comfort, and the built-in wheels and foldable design make it easy to move and store. It also has a countdown start-and-pause feature included.
With an impressive rating from over 2,000 Amazon shoppers, this minimalist treadmill option has everything you need for an effective, sweat-inducing workout. Not only does it include a dozen built-in HIIT workout programs and a five-layer belt design for quieter running, but it also folds down to conveniently fit under your couch or bed.
This compact treadmill is great for small spaces: It’s 50 inches long and folds up for easy storage with a soft-drop hydraulic system. The LCD display shows run time, distance, calories burned and more.
Connect to the FitShow app via Bluetooth and record your training data, share stats on social media — or even challenge friends. The treadmill also includes three manual incline settings and has a weight capacity of 265 pounds.
A two-in-one treadmill with an LED display, this machine can reach up to 7.5 mph while you run or 2.5 mph while you walk.
“I like that it folds up easily, fits perfectly in my little space [and] is really sturdy; plus the fact that it’s quiet so I don’t have to wake up my husband and kids when working out early in the morning,” wrote one verified reviewer.
The arm rest has a built-in touchscreen and folds down so the treadmill can be operated while under a desk.
This 2-in-1 treadmill features a versatile design, allowing you to transition from a jaunt to a jog with ease. Place it underneath a desk so you can walk while you work, then just prop up the riser, with included touchscreen display, to start running.
You can control the treadmill with the included remote, or you can use your phone to adjust the settings, as well as play workout music through the machine’s Bluetooth speakers. The machine includes an emergency stop key for safety and built-in wheels for easy transport.
Best affordable treadmills under $500
Run at speeds of up to 9 mph with this foldable treadmill option, which features nine built-in workout programs and a convenient holder for your smartphone and other devices. It also includes a large LCD screen that shows time, distance, speed and calories burned.
Built-in handrail controls let you set speed, start and stop, and the soft-drop folding mechanism allows you to unfold the treadmill with ease.
How we chose the best affordable treadmills
Shop TODAY’s editorial team picks products based on independent research and reporting, as well as expert insights.
To select the best budget treadmills for this list, I looked at machines under $500 and considered safety features, the number of speed and incline levels, weight capacity, belt size, foldability and storage, as well as special features like app connectivity and preset programs.
I made sure to rely on my background as a certified exercise physiologist and my 20-plus years in the fitness industry when reviewing product details and customer reviews. I took into account that treadmills under $500 may sacrifice some features that you might get with higher-end products.