Tips for Finding the Right Treadmill

There is no doubt that a treadmill can be a very useful piece of exercise equipment, but it is vital to choose the right one.  A treadmill is no small purchase, with many models designed for home use selling for north of $1,000.  With all that money at stake, it is important to know what to look for in order to get the maximum value for the money.

(above) Modern treadmills offer great value for money.

One of the most critical parts of any treadmill, no matter what its cost, is the belt.  The belt system is what allows the treadmill to operate smoothly and provide a good workout.  The top of the belt moves from the front of the unit to the rear, providing a smooth surface on which to walk, jog or run.  It is important to look for a treadmill with a high quality belt, and a belt that is large enough to provide a quality workout.

Just about every treadmill on the market allows for the setting of speed, and many allow the incline to be raised as well.  The more convenient treadmill models will place these controls within easy reach of the user, so it is important to look at the controls closely to make sure they will be easy to use.

Many treadmills also include additional built in features, like heart rate monitors, pulse monitors, reading racks and the like.  Some also calculate the distance run or walked, the number of calories burned, and other important information.  Many also provide preset workout programs, making it easier for the user to get started quickly and to track his or her progress accurately.

There are a number of important things to consider as you start your search for the perfect treadmill, including:

Price is of course a critical factor for most of us, and it is always important to purchase a treadmill that fits your budget as well as your fitness goals.  It is important, however, to look beyond the price tag to the value represented by each model.  Unfortunately, the best treadmills on the market also tend to be the most expensive, so it is important to strike a good balance between price, quality and value as you shop.

It is important to look for a treadmill that is built to last, as a well built treadmill will be less expensive to operate in the long run.  Replacing a shoddily built treadmill after only a few years ago could end up costing far more than buying a better model up front.

There are of course a number of ways to maximize value when it comes to buying treadmills, including purchasing floor models, purchasing last year’s treadmill model and shopping at the outlet stores.  In addition there a number of excellent sellers of quality treadmills on the internet, and they can often provide competitive prices on superior treadmill brands.

Another critical factor that many first time treadmill shoppers forget is the size of the unit.  Treadmills are by definition large pieces of equipment, and an exercise device that allows users to easily run or walk indoors can take up a great deal of space.

One way to fit that new treadmill into your home as well as your workout routine is to look for a model that folds easily when not in use.  These foldable treadmills allow the track of the treadmill to easily fold against the wall when the unit is not in use, freeing up much needed floor space.  It is important to look for a folding mechanism that is smooth and easy to operate.

The Motor
The motor is the heart and soul of any treadmill, and it is important that the motor on the treadmill be large enough to move the treadbelt easily and efficiently.  Generally speaking, the larger the running surface of the treadmill the larger the motor should be.

It is important to consider both the peak duty rating and the continuous duty rating on the treadmill, especially for larger users.  Those treadmill users who weigh more than 185 pounds should look for a motor with a continuous duty rating of at least 1.5 horsepower.

The warranty period on the motor is an important factor as well.  Many of the better home treadmill manufacturers provide lifetime warranties on their motors, and the motor warranty can be a good indication of not only the quality of the motor but the quality of the treadmill itself.

The Treadbelt
As we stated earlier, the size of the treadbelt should be an important consideration for those in the market for a treadmill.  The walking and running surface of the deck should be at least 3/4″ thick for maximum comfort.  A thicker walking surface will be more comfortable, and the thicker surface will also minimize the risk of injury.

As for the size of the running surface, buyers should strive for a deck of at least 48″ long by 17″ long.  This larger running surface will also help to reduce the risk of injury and help ensure users do not accidentally slip off the track while exercising.  Those who plan to run or jog on their treadmills will want to look for the largest treadbelt surface they can find, while walkers may be able to get away with a somewhat smaller surface.

Preset Functions
When it comes to preset workout routines, heart monitors, pulse monitors and the like, it is important to look for those features that are most important to you.  There are many different choices when it comes to monitoring your workout, and it is important to consider how you will use the treadmill.  While serious marathon runners may need to look for a treadmill that can track target heart rate down to the second, those simply seeking to get in shape may need a less elaborate setup.

No matter which type of electronics you select, however, it is important to look carefully at the warranty period.  If the electronics is an important part of the workout experience, be sure to look for a treadmill that provides a lengthy warranty on those features.  This is an especially important consideration, since repairs to these items can be quite costly.

Choosing the Best Treadmill
In addition to the factors listed above, there are a number of excellent resources, both on the internet and off, that smart shoppers can use to get the best value for their limited treadmill dollars.  It is important to look at several different reviews of the brands you are considering.  Reading several different reviews is the best way to make sure what you are reading is truly fair and impartial.

In addition to internet and brick and mortar publications, the advice of family members and friends can be quite valuable when it comes to finding the best treadmill for your money. If friends or family members have included treadmills as part of their own home gyms, be sure to ask them for recommendations.  This type of first hand experience can be incredibly valuable when it comes to choosing the right treadmill.

What About Elliptical Trainers?
Many people strive to include not only a treadmill but an exercise bike or stair stepper in their home gym as well.  Of course not all of us have an entire room to devote to creating such a gym, and packing all those pieces of exercise equipment into a single home can be a challenge to say the least.  It is with that dilemma in mind that elliptical trainers were invented.

These elliptical trainers are one of the newest pieces of exercise equipment, and they strive to combine the features and benefits of exercise bikes and treadmills into one convenient and easy to use machine.  While these devices can be quite useful, it is important to understand both the good points and bad points of this combined approach.

While elliptical trainers can provide an excellent workout, serious runners may find them somewhat limited, preferring instead the challenge and large running surface of a high quality treadmill.

On the plus side, many people find elliptical trainers quite easy to use, and there is some evidence that elliptical trainers can provide a workout that is less stressful on the knees and joints.  Many people with knee problems prefer the lower impact workout of an elliptical trainer to either an exercise bike or treadmill.

In addition, elliptical trainers combine the features of exercise bikes and treadmills into a single machine, and that can of course free up much needed floor space for other things.

When shopping for an elliptical trainer, it is critical to choose one that provides smooth operation.  This smooth operation is one of the most important benefits of an elliptical trainer, and that smoothness is critical to keeping the workout stress free and effective.  A smooth operating elliptical trainer will help reduce strain on the knees and joints, while an elliptical trainer that is jerky or difficult to use could invite a workout ending injury.

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