Before You Buy a Treadmill

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment because they mimic exercises that are both familiar and comfortable: Walking and running. Even if we prefer to workout outside, the weather doesn't always cooperate. A treadmill can be a great investment, giving you more options for exercise. Using a treadmill in a gym is one thing, but buying one for your home is a serious matter. Treadmills cost a good deal of money, so consider your budget and, if you can, buy the highest quality machine you can. Here's what you need to know about buying a treadmill.

How Much To Spend

It's important to get the highest quality treadmill you can afford. A quality treadmill will be comfortable, quiet, easy to use and will last a long time. If you want a quality treadmill, you'll likely spend at least $1000, although spending between $1500 and $3000 will offer more stability, better motors and more workout options. There are some so-so models that fall under $1000, but keep in mind those may not last as long, especially if there are a lot of people using it. Choosing the right treadmill will depend on:
1) Your budget,
2) Programming options,
3) The type of motor and,
4) How much space you have.

Motor Control

The first and most important thing to consider with your treadmill is the motor. The right type of motor can ensure you get great workouts and a long life out of your treadmill. Most treadmills have two motors; One to drive the belt and the other to raise and lower the incline. Figuring out horsepower and motor specifications can be confusing.

To make it easy, shoot for a continuous duty motor with at least 1.5 horsepower. If you plan on running on the treadmill frequently, you'll be better off choosing 2.5-3.0 horsepower.

Minimum Specifications

Other things to look for include:
Belt size - At least 48" long and 16" wide
Speed - If you plan on running, get a treadmill that goes up to 10 mph
Incline - Get a treadmill with an incline that goes up to 10%
Cushioning - The running bed should absorb shock and the belt shouldn't move around with every foot-strike
Stability - The treadmill shouldn't shake when you run or walk on it and the frame should remain stable
Control panel - It should be within reach and simple to use
Programming Extras

Before you buy a treadmill, think about the kinds of things you want. Before you go shopping, ask yourself a few questions such as:
Do you want running or walking programs included?
Do you want a heart rate monitor?
Do you want the ability to hook your treadmill up to a website such as for new workouts?
Do you need a treadmill that folds (often more expensive) or do you have enough space for a regular treadmill?
Can you maintain a treadmill?
What's the most important feature you want in a treadmil?
Once you can answer some of these questions, you'll want to take the next important step - Try before you buy.

Try Before You Buy

You may not be able to find all your treadmill choices at local sporting goods stores, but it pays to do some research and try as many treadmills as possible. Make a list of treadmills you're interested in and call sporting goods stores to see if they're available locally. Spend at least 10 minutes on each treadmill. Make sure it's quiet and that it doesn't shake, even when running. While you're there, see where the drink holder is. Is there a place to put your music player? Can you add a book rack?

Treadmill Workouts

Once you get your treadmill home, you'll have plenty of opportunities to try out the different programs and get into a routine. Treadmill workouts can get pretty boring if you do the same thing all the time. The workouts listed offer some ideas for how to mix things up so you don't get bored.

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