If you don't want the weather to be an excuse for putting off your workout, a treadmill is an ideal piece of home fitness equipment. You can run and walk regularly without worrying about rain, snow, or extreme heat. But buying a treadmill is a serious investment, and with so many options available, the process can be overwhelming. The key is to focus on your specific fitness needs, so you wind up with the right treadmill for you.
Part One of Three:
Evaluating Your Treadmill Needs
1Determine how the treadmill will be used. In order to find the right treadmill, it’s important to know how it will be used and who will use it. Make a list of everyone in your household who will work out on the treadmill and consider what their fitness goals are. The more use that your treadmill will get and the more intensive the workouts will be on it, the more important it is that you buy a high quality model.
- For example, if you plan to use the treadmill primarily for running, you’ll need a strong motor. If you will mainly use it for walking, you can go for a model with a lesser motor.
- It also matters how many people in the house will use the treadmill. If there are multiple runners who’ll workout on the treadmill, you should purchase a high quality model.
- Consider the weights of the treadmill users as well. If both a 200 lb and 160 lb person are going to use it, you don’t want to purchase an underpowered model.
- You should also think about what your household’s fitness goals are. Some models may be better suited for individuals who are trying to lose weight, while others are better for people who are trying to enhance their athletic performance.
2Figure out how much space you have. Another important decision to make before you shop for a treadmill is where you intend to keep it. If you have a room that’s already set up as a home gym, you may have enough space to leave the treadmill out permanently. However, if you’re short on space, you may wind up putting it in your bedroom, family room, or another space, and you won’t necessarily want to leave it out all the time. In those cases, a folding model that you can easily tuck away in a closet or corner is your best option.
- On average, most treadmills are approximately 77 inches long by 35 inches wide.
- Non-folding treadmills tend to offer a sturdier deck and frame, so they’re usually a good option for avid runners.
- Folding models come in a variety of price points. The budget folding treadmills are typically best suited for walking, while the higher cost folding models are good for a mix of walking and running.
3Come up with a budget. Before you start looking at treadmills online or in stores, it’s important to decide how much you’re willing to pay. Treadmills can cost anywhere between $200 and $4000. On average, though, you can expect to pay about $1000 for a quality treadmill. Cheaper treadmills are better suited for walkers, while runners typically prefer mid-range to high priced models. Choose a budget for your treadmill, and look for the best model that you can afford.
- If you have your heart set on a high end treadmill that doesn’t fit your budget, you may want to consider purchasing a pre-owned model.
- You can often find sales on treadmills and other fitness equipment at the end of the year or beginning of a new year when many people are making fitness-related resolutions.
Part Two of Three:
Knowing What to Look For
1Pay attention to the motor. When you’re purchasing a treadmill, the motor is one of the most important things to consider. Most models have two motors, one which powers the belt and the other which powers the incline function. You should opt for a treadmill with a continuous duty motor with at least 1.5 horsepower.
- While a 1.5 horsepower motor is sufficient if you only plan to use the treadmill for walking, you should go for at least a 2.0 horsepower motor if you plan to do a mix of walking and running.
- If you plan to run regularly on your treadmill, opt for a 2.5 to 3.0 horsepower motor.
2Consider the speed settings. Most treadmills have fairly wide speed ranges that allow you to adjust how fast you’re moving when you’re running or walking. In most cases, the speed settings go from 1 to 10 miles per hour (mph). It’s important to consider how fast you need your treadmill to go, so you know if the speed range is sufficient for your workouts.
- On average, most people walk at speeds between 2 and 4 mph.
- Runners typically use speed settings between 5 and 7 mph.
3Review the incline range. In addition to being able to adjust the speed setting, you can customize the intensity of your workout by purchasing a treadmill with an incline feature. That allows you to raise the running bed to simulate walking or running uphill. In most cases, you should look for a model that provides an incline that goes up to 10 percent.
- A treadmill with a power incline features allows you to adjust the incline with the touch of a button or key while you’re walking or running on it.
- Manual incline treadmills require you to manually adjust the incline with a knob or lever before you begin walking or running. They typically cost less than power incline models.
4Notice the belt and deck. A treadmill’s belt and deck are key components because they’re the part of the machine that you move on. Belts vary in size, depending on whether the treadmill is designed for running or walking, but you should look for one that is at least 48-inches long and 16-inches wide. When it comes to the deck, you should opt for a more cushioned model if you plan to run because it will help protect your joints.
- Your stride really determines what length belt is best for you on a treadmill. Generally speaking, 48- to 50-inches is sufficient for walking. However, runners will probably need a belt that is approximately 60-inches long.
5Determine the safety features you want. It’s easy to get hurt if you fall on a treadmill, so you’ll want to consider a model’s safety features when you’re shopping. Most come with a safety key that is connects to the machine and your clothing. The treadmill can’t run without the key, so if you fall, the key will become dislodged and the machine will turn off. However, you may want to consider other safety features as well, such as handrails to help steady you if you fall.
- If you have children at home, you may want to choose a model that requires a special code to turn on. That way, your kids can’t accidentally turn on the treadmill and hurt themselves.
6Identify extra features you may want. Many higher end treadmills are equipped with special features that can help make your workout less boring or more efficient. For example, you might want a model that is equipped with built-in programs that automatically adjust the speed and incline for your or one with a heart rate monitor to track the intensity of your workout.
- Some treadmills have the ability to connect to the internet and will provide a virtual trail via a map application so you feel like you’re running a famous path, such as the New York City Marathon.
- If you like to listen to music during your workout, you may want a model with speakers that you can hook your iPod or music player up to.
Part Three of Three:
Purchasing a Treadmill
1Do online research. Once you have a good idea of the features that you need and want in your treadmill, you can do some research online to find brands and models that fit your needs. There are also sites, such as Consumer Reports, that will rate various treadmills so you know which models perform well. Customer reviews can also help you narrow your options. You don’t necessarily need to be looking to buy, but it does help to get an idea of the prices of some of the treadmill options at various online stores.
- You can purchase your treadmill from an online store or site, but it’s best to buy it in person so you can test it out. That’s especially true if you’ve never purchased one before.
2Test the treadmills in store. After you’ve got some brands and models in mind, you’ll want to test them out in person at local sporting goods stores. When you’re trying out the treadmills, decide if cushioning of the deck feels comfortable when you’re running or walking on it, make sure that your feet don’t hit the motor housing while you’re running or walking, and check that the display is easy to read. In general, ask yourself if you feel comfortable while using the treadmill.
- Call the stores that you’re planning to visit ahead of time to make sure that they have the models that you’re interested in.
- Try to spend at least 10 minutes on each treadmill, so you get a good feel for the machine.
- Make sure the treadmill isn’t too noisy while in operation. It shouldn’t shake while you’re running either.
3Ask about the warranty. When you’re investing in a treadmill, you want to make sure that it’s going to last for many years of use. To protect yourself, it helps to get a warranty that covers the parts and labor involved in any repairs. Look for one that provides at least one year of coverage on labor and three to seven years for the parts.
- Most treadmills come with a lifetime warranty on their frame, but you should inquire about one for the motor too.
- You will likely have to pay more for additional warranty coverage. However, it may be a worthwhile investment if you plan to use your treadmill heavily.
4Inquire about delivery. A treadmill is a large, heavy item, so you may not be able to fit it in your car. If you’re buying it in person, ask the store if delivery is included with the purchase. In some cases, you may need to pay an additional fee to have the treadmill brought to your home, but it may be worth it to avoid the hassle of transporting it.
- When you purchase a treadmill online, some sites include the delivery as part of the price. Shop around to find the best delivery rate.
- Ask the store about assembly too. Most treadmills come unassembled, and putting them together can often be tricky. See if assembly is included in the purchase price or is available for an extra fee.
5Check the return policy. Hopefully, you’ll pick out a treadmill that you’ll love when get it home. However, just in case there’s a problem after you’ve purchased it, it’s important to know that you can return the machine. Ask the store about their return policy. Even if it accepts returns, you may have to pay to have the treadmill picked up and returned to the store.
- Some stores may also charge a restocking fee on a large item like a treadmill.
- Purchasing a treadmill is a considerable investment. Take your time to find the right model for your needs.
- Make sure to read your treadmill owner’s manual before using the machine for the first time. It’s important to know how all of the features work before you start running or walking on it.
- If you get bored with exercising on your treadmill, you can find a variety of workouts online that help add a little variety to the usual walking or running.