Owning a treadmill may be your key to losing weight sensibly and improving your cardiovascular fitness. Keeping a treadmill in your home makes exercising more convenient, and it also eliminates the costs associated with maintaining a monthly gym membership.
Our treadmill buying guide can help you choose the best treadmill that fits your budget and individualized exercise needs. A number of treadmill features are explained below.
Motor: Home treadmill motors generally range from 1.25 horsepower (HP) to 4.0 HP. Many treadmill manufacturers advertise their motors’ power as “continuous horsepower” or CHP. This provides a better idea than does a simple horsepower rating, because it indicates the machine’s capability under conditions of regular use instead of its peak capability.
Motors with 1.25 HP are widely considered to be sub-standard and are inadequate for anything but light use by lightweight users. A satisfactory motor for walkers and joggers would have a 1.75 to 2.0 CHP motor.
Stronger motors are required for exercisers who run rather than jog or walk. For instance, runners of average weight should seek out at least a 2.5 CHP motor. Since motor capability requirements also increase with user weight, users who weigh more than 225 pounds are advised to purchase treadmills with at least 3.0 CHP motors.
Also note that quieter motors are associated with the more expensive treadmill brands. Motors that are advertised as “commercial quality” are usually noticeably quieter than motors intended only for home use. More information on treadmill motors can be found on our site HERE.
Track size: Treadmill tracks vary in size from about 16” – 20” wide and 42” to 62” long. Track length may not be of great importance to petite walkers, but it’s important to users who are tall and/or who take relatively long strides when running.
Most walkers will be satisfied with a 50” x 16” track. Tall people and most runners are advised to purchase treadmills that have at least 55” – long running decks. Track width might be important to larger runners and people who move their arms significantly when running. A standard comfortable track width for runners is 20”.
Treadbelt durability: Treadbelts that are 2-ply or 4-ply are thicker and more durable than those that are one-ply. Thicker treadbelts also tend to be quieter, making it easier to hear entertainment while exercising, as well as reducing distractions to others in your home.
The metal rollers that propel a track are also an important treadmill component. Wider rollers help to extend belt life.
Track speed: Treadmills that support top speeds of 10 mph are adequate for most users. Of course, runners who are training for a 5-minute mile will want machines with higher top speeds. Home treadmills that reach 12 mph are available in the mid- and upper-price categories.
Track cushioning: Track cushioning helps to protect treadmill users’ joints from the impact of exercise. Compared with road running, cushioned treadmill running typically reduces impact by about 15%-40%. Cushioning is most important for runners, but it also reduces impact upon walkers’ bodies and thereby helps to improve their stamina.
Many treadmills feature adjustable cushioning so that runners can choose their preferred combination of support and cushioning. Furthermore, the more advanced running tracks have differential cushioning that supports the back foot and front foot differently; feet get more support as they push off the track, and they get more cushioning as they land.
Incline: Most treadmills tracks can be inclined between 10% and 15%. This helps users to burn calories more efficiently than when they train on a flat surface. Most treadmills include a second small motor that controls the incline, but the most inexpensive portable models require manual adjustment.
Programs: Most treadmills are sold with a minimum of 12-15 workout programs already installed. These are usually designed for a variety of exercise goals, such as weight loss training and endurance training. Many treadmills now feature advanced iFit workout programs, which can be continually upgraded, and some offer virtual tours of national parks and monuments with the aid of Google Maps technology.
Extra features: Treadmill features such as console fans, MP3-players, televisions, and virtual personal training assistance can help make exercise more enjoyable. They might be worth the extra investment because they make it more likely that users will attain their exercise goals.
Warranties: A treadmill manufacturer’s warranties are a good clue about the quality of their machines. Warranties range from limited 90-day warranties to confidence-instilling lifetime warranties.
Weight capacity: Treadmill weight capacities generally range from about 250-400 pounds. Prospective buyers are advised to choose treadmills that can handle at least 50 pounds more than their body weight. This helps to reduce wear on the motor and helps extend the treadmill’s longevity.
Portability: Lower-cost treadmills are often portable; they have wheels for easy mobility and can fit into a closet or the back seat of an average car. Furthermore, treadmills along the price continuum can be folded for space-spacing storage. Some treadmills even feature power-assist technology that makes folding them easy on the user’s body. However, prospective buyers should ensure that their portable treadmills are sufficiently stable when fully assembled.
Safety features: Treadmill safety features such as auto-stop are especially important to elderly or infirm users, as well as those who have children in the home.
In conclusion, it’s worthwhile to determine your equipment needs and then choose a home treadmill that offers the best combination of components, features, and warranties that fits your home fitness budget.
So where is a good place to start? Try one of our links below which will help based on three different categories: