So you have decided that you want to purchase a treadmill. Do you know what to look for? Do you know which features make the price of a treadmill go up? Do you know which features you want in your treadmill?
Choosing any piece of fitness equipment is partly an individual exercise. But there are several features common to any good treadmill.
The most important factor for any piece of fitness equipment is safety. In this case that comes primarily from sturdiness, reliability and a secure flat base. A solid steel alloy frame will stand up to much more punishment than the average aluminum one.
If the treadmill uses plastic components in the mechanical sections (as opposed to just the controls), they should be high quality. They should be as good or better than metal. The hand rails should be rock solid and stay that way for years.
Cost is always a factor, of course. A high-end treadmill may cost as much as $3,000 or more. Some of that price is the result of several ‘nice to have’ electronic features that make the treadmill easier to use. But one major factor is the size and type of motor along with the warranty that comes on the treadmill motor.
Manual treadmills make you move the roller from a dead stop to whatever speed you’ll ‘run’ or ‘walk’ at during use. That can take a lot of force and you may not want to waste your energy on that initial stage. A motor will get your treadmill running gradually at the speed you want to workout.
But a quality 2-hp motor – reliable, quiet and long lasting – will add 10-20% or more to the total cost.
As the motor size gets larger, the price of the treadmill usually goes up. However, since the motor and frame are the two most important parts of your treadmill, make sure that you can get the best that you can afford.
Other components of the treadmill should be equally high quality, even for one in the $2,000 range. The belt and rollers will get a lot of use over the lifetime of the machine which, naturally, you want to be very long.
They should continue to look and act almost new for years. Some slight wear on the belt from your feet and/or shoes is normal. But rippling, uneven movement and so forth that occurs six months after your purchase is not acceptable. Some treadbelts even reverse, so that when the tops side gets worn you can reverse it and you’ll have a new treadbelt showing.
At the same time, the whole assembly – motor, belt, rollers – should be ultra quiet and stay that way for many years. That isn’t just a matter of annoyance or interference with your music or TV though that’s a factor.
Stability, smoothness and lack of noise go hand in hand. Quality parts will produce a quiet, reliable workout for a long time, just as they do for autos. If a treadmill is quiet the stats page, specs page or reviews on the treadmill will say so. Treadmill manufacturers are proud when they can produce a high quality, quiet treadmill so they will mention it somewhere on the page.
Once the basic safety, reliability and wear factors are satisfied other attributes can take center stage.
You may want a folding treadmill for convenience. If so, they should fold and unfold relatively easily, and the hinges should be sturdy and high quality.
Keep in mind that even a folding treadmill will still be fairly heavy. The feature is to allow freeing up floor space when it’s not in use. It’s not for the purpose of making the machine portable. Though it does help when you move your treadmill around in your home or apartment.
The ability to adjust the incline can also be very handy since it allows you to adjust the kind of workout you get, as does variable speeds. Many treadmills offer 1 button speed and incline controls and these are a wonderful feature to have since you do not have to stop your workout to change your controls. Just a push of a button and your there.
Multiple controls are nice to have features, but sometimes that can mean VERY nice to have. Numerous workout pre-sets, an accurate heart monitor, programmable variations, a bottle holder, a magazine rack and more are all great ways to get the optimum out of your treadmill.
There are even treadmills that have on board television screens built into the monitor. I love having a tv on my treadmill but you may not want to spend the additional money for one and might prefer a different feature.
Don’t forget Warranty, Warranty Warranty.
Read each warranty before purchasing your treadmill. See exactly what the warranty covers, the length of the warranty, and do you have in-home service or do you need to ship the treadmill to the manufacturer to have it fixed?
Often, but not always, treadmills with the best warranties will last the longest. The manufacturer stands behind their product, knows that they are built to last and therefore they know that they won’t have many breakdowns. So be sure to look at the warranty before you purchase and make sure that it is an important decision in your purchase.
Don’t just look at all the bells and whistles.
Do some homework and you’re bound to find a treadmill that meets your standards, your exercise level and your budget