Treadmill Reviews, Wellness

Treadmill Buying: 5 Tips You Need to Know

It’s no secret that treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of home fitness equipment. While many fitness fads have come and gone, the treadmill has stood the test of time and proven itself as the king of home fitness! So what makes the treadmill such a great choice when it comes to home fitness equipment? The first, and most obvious answer is that they work! Whether you’re a walker or runner, a treadmill’s job is to keep you moving. As long as you’re motivated and able to hop on one, a treadmill will do the trick in offering an opportunity to get yourself fit. Next, treadmills are easily adaptable to almost all fitness levels. From the beginning exerciser who may simply need to walk a few times a week to the elite runner who likes the challenge of a good pace and/or incline, a treadmill fits the bill. But, before you run out and buy yourself a treadmill, there are quite a few things you’ll want to consider to assure you’re getting the right one for you. Let’s take a quick look some key treadmill tips you’ll want to know about.

Find Your Price Range

Price is almost always the number one thing that people consider with any major purchase – and rightly so! One thing you’ll quickly learn is that treadmills are available at many different price points, starting at around $500 and going up to $3000 or more. While a less expensive treadmill may be an okay choice for someone who may not use it very often or wants a basic machine, it most likely is not a good option for someone who will use it heavily or for the household that may have more than one user on a regular basis. Ask yourself why you’re buying a treadmill … to lose weight, to walk, to run, to rehabilitate? Those answers along with a few other factors will help you determine how much to spend. Before you seriously begin shopping for a treadmill, do your homework and have a basic understanding of the prices. Who: To help you establish a price range for your treadmill, the first key thing you’ll want to determine is who will be using it. Having a single user that weighs 120 lbs. vs. a family of 3 or 4 that has someone over 200 lbs. will most likely require a different level and quality of treadmill. Where: Where you will use the treadmill is also a major consideration. Is space an issue? Do you need a folding treadmill or one that is portable? Do you need to be able to install it upstairs or downstairs? Many online retailers will offer free shipping and even deliver boxes into the first ground-level door. Sometimes you’ll have the option to pay more money for “white glove” installation, but if you select a treadmill that is easy to assemble you can save that money by doing it yourself. How: And finally, how it will be used is probably the most important consideration of the three. An older individual who may want to walk 10-15 minutes a few days/week is going to need a much different treadmill than a competitive runner who consistently puts in many miles each time she uses it. Normal treadmill use is considered to be around 30 minutes per day, every day of the week. If you or your household will be using a treadmill more than that, you’ll probably be a good candidate for a higher end unit and one that comes with an extended warranty.

Treadmill Buying: 5 Tips You Need to Know

While many treadmills these days come decked-out with all of the “bells and whistles,” be careful not to pay for options that you don’t need or won’t use. Here are a few to consider:

1. Programmability

Many treadmills now have integrated programs that can suit various user needs and provide challenges to different levels of fitness. Many models also offer heart rate interactivity features, (and come with Polar Heart rate Chest Strap), to personalize your workouts. While these may be great options, you have to determine whether you (or any others in your household that will use the treadmill) will even utilize them. For some of you, ease of use should be a priority so you may want to avoid the extras. Choose a treadmill that meets your needs, but is also simple to operate.  

2. Belt Size

For most people, an 18”x52” belt (walking/running surface) is plenty. Some treadmills feature wider and longer belts, but you’ll want to determine what is best for you. Keep in mind, however, that the more belt surface you have the harder the unit has to work to keep it all going. The best thing to do is try out a couple of different size treadmills to see what suits you best. Any good fitness equipment retailer will have treadmills ready for you to hop on and try out.

3. Power

Horsepower ratings on treadmills can be confusing and are an often overrated feature that many retailers will try to sell you on. Instead of looking at the overall horsepower (or “peak” horsepower), find out what the continuous duty rating is on the models you’re looking at. Continuous duty is a measure of the horsepower under regular anticipated use and is a better measure than peak horsepower. A continuous duty rating of 1.5-2.5 is sufficient enough for most home treadmills. Also be sure to ask about the warranty — not only for the motor, but also for the frame, parts and labor.  

4. Safety

Most treadmills these days are pretty well equipped when it comes to safety features, but be sure to look for an emergency stop in the form of a key that is attachable to the user, or a panic stop button that is easily visible.

5. Maintenance

While most treadmills today are virtually maintenance free, you’ll want to make sure you ask about what might need to be done (lube, deck rotations, belt adjustments, etc). Some mid-range to high-end treadmills require no deck maintenance, which can correspond to a lower cost of ownership over the longterm. Regular cleanings (sweat is corrosive) and a treadmill fitness mat will go a long way in keeping your machine operating for a long time. If you do your research and use these tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right treadmill for you. Lastly, don’t forget to consult user reviews of treadmills. These are usually the most honest critiques of treadmills and will give you an understanding of what it’s really like to receive, set up and use the treadmill. Best of luck!  
  About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.