Save vs. Splurge: We Compare a $400 and $1,800 Treadmill From 2 of Amazon’s Most Popular Brands

Getting steps in at home has serious benefits, but which treadmill option is right for you?

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Save Vs. Splurge Treadmills
NordicTrack / Sunny Health & Fitness.

Owning a treadmill is one of the easiest ways to fit a quick walk or run into your day, and those added steps come with some serious health benefits. Just 10 minutes of running a day can drastically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Even just a light stroll can strengthen your legs and joints, two factors that contribute to preventing injury and raising your basal metabolic rate (i.e. how many calories your body burns while at rest.)

However, anyone who’s watched their at-home workout equipment gather dust knows that investing in a large machine is only worth it if you actually commit to weekly use. For this reason, it’s important to find a tread that operates seamlessly, includes ample speed levels and tracking metrics, and lasts for years with little to no maintenance required. For those who already love cardio, a pricey but high-quality machine can be worth it for the convenience. However, there are well made, inexpensive options that get the job done as well.

Below is a comparative breakdown of two popular treadmills on Amazon to help you decide on the best option for your fitness needs. 

Save: Sunny Health and Fitness Folding Treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Incline Treadmill with Optional


Buy It: $1,799,

Key Features:

Main Specs: This treadmill features a display board with nine preset workout programs and trackers that show your speed, distance, heart rate, and calories burned. You can control the speed, which goes up to nine miles per hour, and elevation, which raises to five percent, with buttons located at the bottom of the panel.

Other Features: The handles of the treadmill fold down, making it easy to store. Additionally, the sturdy steel frame can hold up to 220 pounds. 

Best For: Those who are new to running and aren’t ready to invest in an expensive machine.

What We Love:

Considering that it costs less than $400, this treadmill offers a surprising amount of features. Those looking to up their running workouts can enjoy speeds that range from jogging to sprinting. What’s more, the fold-down handles allow you to store the machine beneath a bed or upright in a closet. Users can even place the flattened shape under a raised surface to transform a standing desk into a walking desk — a game changer for anyone trying to stay in shape while working from home. Finally, at just over 100 pounds, this treadmill is anything but flimsy, and accommodates a larger range of body weights than other designs at the same price point. 

Keep in Mind:

This machine requires some initial assembly. However, multiple Amazon reviewers note that putting it together took minimal time and effort and suggested following the step-by-step directions of this YouTube video. Additionally, some shoppers say that the belt is slightly jerky between speed transitions and produces a slight whirring noise while in use. 

Splurge: NordicTrack T 9.5 Treadmill

NordicTrack T Series Treadmills


Buy It: $1,799,

Key Features: 

Main Specs: A large, high definition touch screen is the most stand-out feature on this treadmill, which lets you access speeds up to 12 miles per hour and inclines as high as 12 percent. The display includes all the regular trackers (speed, distance, heart rate, and calories) and also allows you to follow along with 50 pre-programmed runs. Best of all, this screen connects to iFit, a subscription service that offers thousands of instructor-led cardio and strength workout videos for $15 a month. 

Other Features: The display panel also lets you control a built-in fan and speakers. Despite its size, this tread compactly folds up, making storage a no-brainer. Plus, the steel frame is three feet wide and can hold up to 300 pounds. 

Best For: Avid runners and anyone who wants to commit to a regular workout regimen.

What We Love:

NordicTrack has an excellent reputation for making long-lasting, high-tech machines, and this folding treadmill is no exception. Serious runners can challenge themselves with notably high speeds and elevations while staying cool and comfortable thanks to fans located at the front of the display panel. Many describe it as “whisper quiet” and very smooth.  However, what really sets this machine apart is the opportunity to access expert instruction and fun, challenging workout classes through NordicTrack’s iFit program. Reviewers say these guided workouts make all the difference in maintaining motivation, and one shopper even dubbed it a “pure delight” to use. 

Keep in Mind:

This is a 228-pound piece of equipment. Although it folds up vertically, it is difficult to move or store out of sight. Additionally, many shoppers note that it takes upwards of an hour to fully assemble, and many found the directions somewhat confusing (although, you can watch this YouTube tutorial for more clarity.) 

In Conclusion:

If daily walking or a casual jog is what you’re after, there’s no need to drop thousands on a treadmill. In fact, for those who intend to use their tread primarily for walking, the $400 Sunny Health and Fitness design is the better option, as the fold-down is more equipped for multitasking, and doesn’t require much space. However, if you aim to become a runner or add variety and intensity  to your workouts, the ability to access higher velocity and programs led by experienced trainers will advance you towards your goals. 

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