So you’ve finally decided it’s time to pull the trigger and buy a treadmill, well your not alone, many people are looking to purchase a treadmill for their homes or office everyday. Regardless of whether you want to shed a few pounds, maintain your current weight or add a little cardio to your fitness diet a treadmill is a step in the right direction.
A treadmill is by far one of the most popular pieces of home fitness equipment purchased today and can definitely offer a multitude of health benefits. But, where do you start? What treadmill is best for you or your family? Our Treadmill Buying Guide will point out some factors you need to consider before you even begin looking for a treadmill let alone commit to buying one. Setting your guidelines will help you focus on the type of treadmill to buy.
Guidelines For Buying a Treadmill
Before buying a treadmill, the following guidelines must be considered since you’ll never end up using the treadmill if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. Here are some of the more important factors that have to be taken into consideration:
- Cost – This will most likely have the largest impact on the type of treadmill you decide to buy. Treadmills can range in price from around one hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. If you’re working with a smaller budget you may need to consider a manual treadmill with no bells and whistles as opposed to a fully computerized motorized model. (See our Best Manual Treadmill Review).
- Usage – How you intend to use your treadmill will also have an impact on the type you select. If you’re an occasional user that only plans on walking 2 or 3 miles twice a week and entry level model will probably suit your needs. However, if you’re a runner training for a marathon and plan to run 10 miles 5 or 6 times a week a heavier duty model would be a better choice.
- Size – Size is another important factor. If you have a large space in your home or office where you plan to setup your treadmill size won’t be a concern. But, if you live in a small apartment or have limited space in your home you would want to consider a compact or foldable treadmill.
- Users – Another major factor is the number of people that will be using the treadmill. Are you purchasing the treadmill solely for your own use or is it a piece of equipment than will be used by an entire family? You’ll need to consider the size as well as the weight of all the individuals that intend to use the treadmill.
As I said earlier, the task of wading through the assortment of available treadmills can quickly become a frustrating task. However, you’ll be able to quickly reduce the number available to you by setting your guidelines prior to looking.
By now you should have determined your spending budget, intended usage, space requirements and number of individuals who will use the treadmill. You should have a good idea if you want:
- Manual or Motorized
- Full Size or Compact / Foldable
- Light Duty or Heavy Duty
- Basic Functions or Fully Computerized
The bottom line is you’ll need to select a treadmill that will last and handle the punishment of your workouts then, determine which features are an absolute must to keep you motivated to use your new treadmill.
Now that you know want you want in a treadmill I will cover the important features you’ll want to look for.
If you’ve decided upon an electric treadmill, the motor should be your most important consideration. Put simply, the motor is the power source that powers the belt during your workout; a larger, heavier motor will give you a treadmill that lasts longer.
The typical treadmill that you’ll buy for your home will generally have a power output between 1.25 to 5 horse power (Hp). It goes without saying that the more horse power the motor has the more expensive it will be. Here’s a simple guideline for selecting horse power.
- Motors with 1.25 to 1.5 horse power should only be considered for occasional, lightweight users.
- Motors with 1.75 to 2.0 horse power should be more than adequate for walkers or joggers.
- Motors with 3.0 horse power and up should be used by runners of average size. Larger runners or heavy runners may want a little stronger motor.
However, if you’re buying a treadmill for home that will be used by only a couple of people for walking or jogging you should do fine with a 2.0 horse power motor.
The incline on a treadmill either raises or lowers the running deck of the treadmill to increase or decrease resistance allowing you to simulate walking up and down hills. An incline can help add variation to your workout and burn additional calories. Inclines can be either powered or manual and can provide a positive incline between 0% to 12% and some offer a negative incline up to 3 %. A powered incline is without a doubt more convenient and more costly.
Belts and Decks – When you consider that all your exercise will be performed on the deck of the treadmill it is essential to select one that fits your body and is comfortable. Typically, a thicker deck will provide more cushion and comfort which will minimize the impact on your legs and joints.
Treadmill belts vary in both width (16” to 22” wide) and in length (40” to 60” long). Length may not be critical for shorter, slow walkers but can be crucial for taller runners. Consider the following rules of thumb:
- Average walkers and joggers should feel comfortable with a belt that’s 16″ wide x 50″ long
- Taller individuals and runners should consider a belt that’s 16″ wide by 50″ to 60″ long.
- A larger individual may also want to consider a 20″ or 22″ wide belt rather than a 16″
- Individuals with shorter legs can use any length belt however; shorter belts will not work well for individuals with longer legs. People with longer legs should definitely invest in a treadmill that provides a longer belt.
Speed – The majority of motorized treadmills allow the speed to be set between 0 – 12 mph. Keep in mind that the average person walks between 2 – 4 mph while joggers and runners move between 4 -12 mph.
Options and Safety Features
The last feature to consider is the bells, whistles and safety features. While many people desire the thrills and frills the reality is that you can do fine without them if cost is a factor. Some optional features include:
- Pre-Programmed Workouts
- Higher Belt Speeds
- Built-in Monitors for Heat Rate, Calories Burned, Weight Loss and others.
Safety Features – Although some treadmills may offer elaborate safety features, there is one feature you want to make sure you have. An emergency stop method, whether it’s a button, clip or key you need someway to stop the treadmill in the event that you fall off of the treadmill or simply become to tired to continue.
Treadmill Buying Guide Advice
Treadmill Buying Guide Summary
I hope that my Treadmill Buying Guide was able to take some of the confusion and frustration out of buying a treadmill. You now have some guidelines to follow and have a basic understanding of what is available in the different models of treadmills. Remember to always opt for quality and durability over the thrills and frills and you should easily find one for you and your family to enjoy.
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