A compact treadmill allows you to start your own home gym without losing precious space that could be used for piles of dirty laundry or discarded pizza boxes. These treadmills tend to be built smaller than the ones you see at the gym, and can be folded up when you aren’t using them to free up floor space. In our opinion, the best foldable treadmill models have a small footprint but enough features to allow you to mix up your workouts and train well.
Many of the top treadmill brands have introduced foldable treadmill models, but even with their small sizes, compact treadmills aren’t always cheap. For instance, the Lifespan TR1200i Folding Treadmill is one of the best-rated treadmills and is considered one of the best treadmill models for home use. However, it has a high price that made us cringe--we know that not everyone who wants to get fit has a lot of cash lying around to pour into a home gym. So we decided to make our own mini treadmill buying guide. We researched and tested the best cheap treadmill options on the market and found that the Sunny Health & FItness SF-T7603 stood up to our tests. Use our treadmill buyer’s guide to figure out which is the best folding treadmill for you!
The LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill offers a great running surface and solid motor design that would work well for dedicated runners. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and can support up to 300 pounds. This is the kind of treadmill you’re likely to see at the gym, and it may be the best home treadmill for people who want to copy that experience exactly. You can choose from 21 exercise programs and even download your performance data for further analysis on your computer or smartphone. The TR1200i even keeps track of your steps. However, this treadmill’s many features may not be useful for everybody. Most beginners and casual walkers and joggers will find the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603 meets all of the basic requirements of a foldable treadmill and can provide a great workout at a low price.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603 is the best foldable treadmill option for people who really need to conserve space. Sometimes, a folding treadmill isn’t just convenient--it’s necessary! The SF-T7603 is easy to fold up and is half the weight of the Lifespan brand treadmill, while also being more compact both in its folded and unfolded forms. Although the smaller running surface is not ideal for people who like to sprint or run, it should work well for people who want to use a treadmill for walking or jogging. The 220-pound weight limit is enough for most people to use this treadmill safely, although upgrades from this same line are available with higher weight limits. It has a shorter 90-day warranty and manually adjustable incline, but we found that to be worth it with the unit’s low price and overall build quality.
The Lifespan TR1200i has a 2.5 horsepower Continuous Duty CHP motor. This means that the average horsepower consistently put out by the CHP motor during continuous use is 2.5. CHP motors are powerful and well-built while producing a smooth, stutter-free treadmill movement that can hold up to long runs. This motor can also withstand heavier users better.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603 treadmill has a 2.2 peak horsepower DC motor. They use a different measure than the Lifespan treadmill: peak horsepower is the maximum horsepower the treadmill can produce, rather than what it can maintain during continuous use. This implies that the Sunny Health treadmill has lower power overall, making it best for light jogging and walking.
The Lifespan TR1200i has a running surface size of 20 inches wide and 56 inches long. The 20-inch width provides room to easily walk or run, while the 56-inch length is also perfect for containing a runner’s stride.
The SF-T7603 has a running surface measuring 16 inches wide and 49 inches long. This smaller size can make this treadmill more difficult to run on because you have less room to deviate from side to side.
A hydraulic shock system helps you to fold and unfold the TR1200i safely and easily. The hydraulics take some of the weight of the treadmill out of your hands and also ensures that the treadmill unfolds at a smooth, steady rate to prevent it from jarring against the floor.
The SF-T7603 also uses a hydraulic system that makes it easier to fold up the treadmill and also ensures a “soft drop” when you want to unfold it for use. With either treadmill, you won’t have to worry about losing your grip or starting your workout too soon.
The Lifespan TR1200i comes with 21 preloaded training programs to help you meet a range of goals, from training and heart rate targeting to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. It can also accurately count your steps, and you can download your exercise data with a USB flash drive.
The Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill comes with nine preloaded training programs to suit a range of user abilities, as well as being able to track your heart rate. If you prefer to vary your workout a lot, you may prefer the TR1200i’s additional programs, but nine can still offer a lot of variety.
The Lifespan TR1200i can be set to 15 different incline levels that can be set using buttons on the arms of the treadmill. Although more convenient than the SF-T7603’s manual system, it is part of the TR1200i’s high price.
The Sunny Health treadmill has three incline levels that are set manually with a lever near the treadmill’s base. This can still help you vary your workout intensity, although you will have to pause your workout if you want to change the incline.
The Lifespan compact treadmill has multicolor LCD that displays your time, calories, distance, speed, and other features, such as the incline setting and your heart rate.
The Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill has a mono color LCD can also track your time, calories, distance, and speed, as well as which program you’ve selected and your pulse.
The Lifespan TR1200i has handrails that contain button controls and heart rate monitors. They can help you stabilize and steady yourself during your workout.
The Sunny Health SF-T7603 also comes with handrails with built-in heart rate monitors to add stability and safety as you run, walk, jog, or (if you’re anything like us) stumble.
When unfolded, the Lifespan treadmill measures 70.25 inches long by 33 inches wide, and is 55 inches tall. Although smaller than full-sized treadmills, the larger size of this treadmill makes it a better option for people with plenty of space at home.
The Sunny Health treadmill measures 62 inches long by 27 inches wide, and is 47 inches tall when unfolded. This is a noticeably smaller footprint compared to the Lifespan TR1200i, making it the best compact treadmill that is actually compact.
The Lifespan treadmill measures 39 inches long by 33 inches wide and 63 inches tall when it’s folded up. Due to its larger overall size, it does not stow away as easily when folded.
The SF-T7603 measures 37 inches long by 31 inches wide and 47 inches tall when folded. This smaller footprint makes it ideal for almost any room in the house.
The Lifespan TR1200i treadmill can handle user weights of up to 300 pounds. Combined with the CHP motor, this treadmill can handle heavier weights better.
The Sunny Health treadmill has a weight limit of 220 pounds, so it is less ideal for heavier people, but it can still be used safely by most users.
The Lifespan treadmill weighs 197 pounds, almost double the SF-T7603’s weight. Although the hydraulic folding mechanism will make it easier to fold up, this treadmill will still be difficult to move if you like to store it against a wall or in a closet.
The Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill weighs 103 pounds. As a result, the SF-T7603 can be moved from room to room more easily than the Lifespan product. If you want to hide your compact treadmill out of sight sometimes, the SF-T7603 is a great option.
The Lifespan TR1200i comes with a lifetime warranty on both the frame and the motor. While this offers an impressive amount of protection, it is part of the reason for the product’s high price, acting as a built-in insurance policy premium.
The Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill comes with a 90-day warranty. Although significantly shorter than the Lifespan treadmill’s warranty, keep in mind that most mechanical and electrical issues that would require warranty replacement or repairs show up early.