With a seemingly endless array of makes and models, sporting a bewildering array of features, choosing a treadmill is not an easy task.
It is little wonder that trying to select a treadmill that suits your specific needs and budget can be overwhelming.
Even a basic treadmill can represent a sizeable monetary investment, so it is important to make an informed choice in order to avoid making an expensive mistake. Armed with our “Top Ten Tips” you are in a better position to choose a treadmill that meets both your fitness requirements and your budget.
The following are our “Top Ten Tips” for choosing a treadmill:
1. Choose a “Powered” Treadmill
Many people mistakenly believe that they can save money over the cost of buying a powered treadmill by buying a “manual” treadmill. Manual treadmills are powered by the action of the user’s feet on the walking surface that moves the rolling tread belt.
In theory this sounds a cheap and effective idea, but in practice it is very ineffective and actually introduces unhealthy strains upon the leg muscles which have been known to result in injury.
2. List Your Requirements
It’s a good idea to draw up a list of requirements so that later you can use this list to try and match your individual requirements against the specifications and features for a specific treadmill. Such a list might include requirements such as:
Approximate Price Band
Folding / Non-folding
Usage (walking, jogging, running, incline training etc.)
Programs (number and type, expandable e.g iFIT )
Heart Rate Monitoring / Control (contact or wireless)
Entertainment (audio, TV, internet)
Warranty (items covered, length of cover, extended cover)
3. Do Your Homework!
A powered treadmill of any reasonable quality is a costly item and you should treat it’s purchase as you would any other expensive domestic appliance. This means trying to get the best match between your “list of requirements” and the treadmills currently available.
Try and gather as much information as possible regarding the specification and features of individual treadmills from sources such as treadmill review sites on the internet.
4. “Folding” or “Non-Folding”
Treadmills are available with either non-folding or folding frames. The non-folding treadmills do not move, where as the folding type have frames that can be folded into an all most vertical position where they occupy less floor space.
There is a popular misconception that folding treadmills are neither as strong or as stable as non-folding treadmills. In actual fact a folding treadmill of comparable quality to a non-folding model will be just as strong and stable.
5. The “Running Deck”
This is an important but often overlooked component of a modern fitness treadmill. The deck provides support to the the moving belt and the way in which it reacts to the user’s movements together with the suspension determines the way the treadmill feels when you walk or run on it.
The important thing to remember here is to ensure that the weight of the intended user does not exceed the maximum user weight limit of the deck set by the manufacturer.
6. The “Belt Size”
In order to handle the long stride and natural side-to-side movement of runners, most modern treadmills have belts which are twenty inches wide.
The size of the walking area should be at least 55 inches. A 60 inch long belt or longer is preferable for taller runners with longer than average stride lengths.
7. The “Motor Size”
As a general rule the bigger the motor the better. A bigger motor will not only be able to drive the tread belt to higher speeds it will also be able to accommodate heavier users and allow the belt to accelerate smoothly.
A bigger motor will also tend to draw less current than a smaller unit in certain situations and be less likely to overheat the associated motor control circuitry and wiring.
8. “Workout Programs”
Most treadmills are available with inbuilt workout programs. These are resident computer programs that when activated take over the control of the speed and incline control of the treadmill. The programs run for a set period of time during which the speed and incline of the treadmill are varied automatically by the program.
A variation of the pre-programmed workouts is the innovative iFIT system available on many treadmills made by ICON. This feature uses either pre-programmed workout cards or internet connectivity to deliver specific workout programs focusing on as cardio vascular training or weight loss, etc.
9. “Entertainment Systems”
Many treadmills these days have some form of audio or video entertainment facility. A popular feature consists of an audio system driving speakers mounted in the treadmill’s console that can be coupled via a cable or “docking station” to an MP3 player.
The other favored entertainment option takes the form of a flat screen TV that can be mounted in or above the control console.
10. Warranty Cover
Most manufacturers offer some form of guarantee in case their product fails but the length and items covered by the warranty can vary significantly from one maker to another. The length of cover can vary from 90 days up to a lifetime and items covered from frame and motor to electronics.
Clearly the longer the length of cover the better and this is often a good indication of the overall quality and durability of the treadmill.
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