Treadmill Buying Guide
Buying a treadmill can often be quite a large purchase – and
a very confusing one with all the wide range of brands and models
available on the market. To help you along we have outlined some
of the main
things to consider and keep in mind when choosing the treadmill
that best suits your needs.
How much do you want to spend?
Treadmills can vary greatly in price depending on the type and
the features it includes and the most high-tech, top of the range
models can set you back about £4000. We obviously haven’t
all got that kind of money to spend on a piece of exercise equipment
but even if you only have a fraction of this available it doesn’t
mean you can’t still own your very own treadmill. A basic,
non-motorised treadmill can cost as little as £150. Having
said that though, with treadmills as with most exercise machines,
it is very much a case of “you get what you pay for”.
A more expensive model will typically be much more stable, have
a more spacious running surface and come with useful added features.
If you can it is always best to see buying a treadmill as an investment – spending
that little bit extra will ensure that you get a solid piece of
equipment that will keep running for years to come.
How much space have you got?
Before buying your treadmill you will have to decide what size
you would like it to be and work out where you are going to keep
it. If you will be using the machine for running rather than just
walking or light jogging it is a good idea to choose a model with
a good-sized running deck as your strides lengthen at higher speeds.
This of course means that the entire treadmill will be larger and
will take up more space. Always measure the space you have available
to make sure that your chosen treadmill will fit. If you are a
bit short on space opt for a model where the deck can be folded
up for storage, freeing up that much needed floor space for other
things when the machine is not in use. Most manufacturers offer
a choice of folding models and these can be of just as good quality
as their full platform counterparts.
Who will be using the treadmill?
You will need to think about whether you, or anyone else who will
be using the treadmill, have any particular requirements. A very
heavy user will have to check the maximum user weight of the treadmill
to ensure that it will keep running smoothly under the extra strain,
whereas a taller person might require a longer running surface
to be able to run comfortably. It is also important to consider
any medical factors such as joint or cardiac problems. For those
with joint problems it is worth investing in a machine with extra
good deck cushioning, both for comfort and protection. If using
a treadmill for cardio-rehabilitation, heart rate controlled training
can be a very useful feature for a safe and effective workout.
However, please note that heart rate monitors may not be suitable
for people with pacemakers.
How will the treadmill be used?
If you will primarily be using your treadmill for walking, a manual
or motorised model with a top speed of about 5mph, might be all
you need. If you intend to do some more serious running however
you need to opt for a machine that can handle speeds of about 10mph
and ideally has a spacious running deck.
There are a number of key treadmill features upon which a
buying decision is made. These include:
Motor and speed
The cheapest treadmills are manual, i.e. it is your own action
rather than a motor that provides the power, which means you will
always control the speed of the belt. They can sometimes be a bit
difficult to get used to at first and put more strain on your knees
and hip joints. Motorised treadmills are superior to manual ones
but do cost a bit more, starting at about £350 for a basic
model. With a motorised machine you will pre-set the speed at which
you want to work out which makes the exercise more efficient and
the motion more natural. When looking at the size of the motor,
it is the continuous duty rating which is important. Continuous
duty means that the motor will run at the indicated horsepower
rating for extended periods under weight-bearing loads. If the
power rating of the motor is specified as peak duty or is unspecified,
it doesn’t really mean much at all. If you will be using
the machine for proper running it is best to go for a motor with
at least 1.5hp continuous duty. A smaller motor will not provide
enough power and may not offer the speed range you require.
The vast majority of treadmills come with some sort of incline
adjustment. Adding incline intensifies your workout so if you are
buying a treadmill with quite a low maximum speed it might be worth
making sure that it has suitable incline levels to add that extra
bit of variety. Cheaper models normally only have two or three
set incline levels and you will have to adjust it manually. With
other machines you can set the incline level to any percentage
you want up to a maximum of about 10-15%, and this is often done
automatically by pressing a button so that you don’t have
to interrupt your workout to change the incline level.
Having pre-set or even customisable workout programmes with your
treadmill is great for some extra variety and can be very good
for keeping you motivated. If you are the kind of person who easily
gets bored while exercising, investing in a machine with a good
range of programmes might just mean that you will end up getting
more use out of it. Some treadmills come with a heart rate monitor
included and many of these will also offer heart rate controlled
workout options. With heart rate controlled training the treadmill
will automatically adjust the speed, incline or both to keep you
in your target heart rate zone. Programmes like these have been
proven to assist in weight loss and improving performance and can
also mean a safer workout.
Always check out the warranties offered on any treadmill you are
considering. A good, durable treadmill from a good manufacturer
should be backed by generous warranties. Generally speaking, the
longer the warranty offered, the better the quality of the treadmill.
Most treadmills come with at least a one year parts and labour
warranty. Better quality products often come with a two or three
years parts warranty. Machines from a higher-end manufacturer will
often come with a lifetime warranty on the frame and on some models
even the motor will be backed by a lifetime warranty.
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