Be confident of making the right choice after one understands all the options. This guide will help identify your needs and understand all the various options and features found on modern treadmills.
With the following information, one can create a shortlist, choose and buy with confidence.
Determine which machine is most appropriate for one’s budget and workout requirements. Each section will also indicate any pros and cons or possible traps where applicable.
Why buy a treadmill?
An important feature of exercising on a running machine and one that inspires many people is that walking and running is a natural activity.
Modern tread mills have an abundance of features that make exercise fun, regardless of age, fitness levels or physical body types. Walking offers many health benefits including cardiovascular exercise for the heart and circulatory system.
All from home or office regardless of weather conditions while one is watching TV or a DVD perhaps. Variable types of load conditions to suit your fitness goals or achieve weight reduction goals.
In the field of gym equipment, treadmills have been immensely popular for over 20 years for the purpose of Cardio exercising. They allow one to run or walk in a controlled environment regardless of weather conditions, all the while recording statistics about your workout and one’s body.
The importance of physical activity
Any time the body moves is deemed to be physical activity, to improve one’s health aerobic and Muscle-strengthening you should perform two different types of physical activity every week.
Depending on ones, current physical condition and fitness, it is important to start off slowly, and then increase your efforts according to the following guidelines.
How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
“How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 July 2012.
Exercise intensity – Talk test
Light intensity is light physical work; an indicator is that one is able to talk normally during the activity. These are everyday activities, many are normal movements during the course of the day (Housework or easy chores)
Moderate intensity is when one is still breathing normally but gasping slightly if one tries to sing while performing the activity. (Walking briskly, dancing or mowing the lawn.)
Vigorous intensity is when the heart rate is up, and it is difficult to talk without gasping. It is difficult to say more than a few words without pausing for breath such as when jogging.
As a rule of thumb, 1 minute of vigorous activity equals about 2 minutes of moderate activity. The advantage of vigorous activities is that one derives all the health benefits in half the time.
It is not necessary to perform the activities in one session, as long as you do each activity a minimum of ten minutes at a time; it is desirable to spread them out over the course of the week into smaller chunks.
As your fitness increases, increasing your weekly activity time to 300 minutes or more will increase the health benefits substantially. The important fact to remember is to increase your heart rate and breathing rate up by working hard, (intensity the measure of how hard you are working) this is termed aerobic or cardio activity.
Define your purpose
Will there be different people using the unit? What are the goals of everyone that will be using the unit?
Cooling – Will the machine be used in an area that is air conditioned, is there enough room to locate a cooling fan? Does the machine have provision for a drink bottle, is it easy to reach?
Unit Weight – The overall weight of the machine is a paramount consideration for both fixed and transportable machines. Given careful consideration to the machines weight for those times when the unit needs to be moved from its present location to a new one.
Medical – As with any exercise program it is advisable to check with your Doctor before beginning. This is particularly important if one is being treated for any current known medical issues.
Children – Ensure that any children, particularly toddlers are properly supervised while the treadmill is in use. Always check and make sure that the treadmill is totally disabled and locked when, not in use to guard against any inquisitive children.
1. Budget constraints determine the quality and feature inclusions for the machine.
2. How the machine is to be used will be the second consideration.
3. A basic quality machine will cost approximately $800 and high quality and feature rich machine may cost $2000 or more.
Body size and height of the user:
For persons taller than 6 foot 2 inches, choose a robust machine which will accommodate a longer stride and heavier body weight. If a person, weighs in excess of 220 pounds, then they would be better served by investing in a machine that incorporates a stronger and more robust belt and deck along with a bigger motor.
This holds true regardless of whether the machine is to be used for walking or running. Check their specification sheet and note the person maximum weight limit.
Folding or non-folding decks
Foldaway units need to be considered if one has little room to leave a fixed machine in situ or if one is renting or changing address frequently.
A 2.5 HP continuous duty motor is recommended for most machines. The majority of treadmills designed for home utilise a DC motor which delivers power relative to its operating speed.
A larger motor is less likely to suffer overheating caused by the additional load from a heavier than an average person, running or walking at a slow speed.
Motors are sturdy quality and reliable, ensure that it comes with a minimum ten-year warranty as a minimum; this is a strong indicator of quality as the manufacturer has faith in the motor.
Incline and Decline
Treadmills are one of the most popular types of home fitness equipment due to their ability to stimulate running, jogging or walking. Their ability of varying the load conditions by using adjustable incline systems allows the user to simulate going up a hill.
This is achieved by tilting the deck up and down in varying degrees. This coupled with various speeds offers a multitude of different kinds of workouts for the user.
Look for a machine that offers adjustable degrees of incline, ideally with at least 10° and 15° being an option. This allows increased flexibility for various load programming, where multiple persons with different fitness levels will be using the unit.
Treadmill speed settings. Some machines will allow speeds up to 15 mph, but 10 to 12 mph being more the norm; this is more than enough. What is more, significant is the ability to vary the speeds with the various load conditions adjusted by the slope. This offers far more in the form of a variety for one’s workouts incorporating cardio interval training.
The flywheel ensures that the motor drives the belt a consistent and smooth speed. The main criteria is that the flywheel is balanced well.
The belt:Look for a two-ply belt constructed from a layering of polyurethane and nylon-polyester weave. The belt is an extremely vital component of a treadmill; it needs to be both wide and long enough to accommodate variable strides and speeds. The belt needs a minimum width of 20 inches and is at least 60 inches long.
A belt that does not have enough length or width will feel insecure and restrictive when running or jogging due to lack of space.
A high quality treadmill will have a belt designed to last a minimum of a few 1000 hours.
Look for a unit that is sturdy and well built, a robust design and made from high quality steel or alloy. A sturdy design will ensure that the unit’s main components can be easily accessed should any maintenance be required.
Frames are constructed from the either steel or aluminium and is a hugely crucial component of the machine. Steel frames tend to be more resilient, quieter and more and more giving, aluminium frames are extremely strong but not as favoured by runners because they do not offer the same if springy feel as steel frames. High alloy steel is the preferred choice for the frame.
Decks & Cushioning Systems:Running/walking platforms are typically padded which impact the joints less when running, jogging or walking. This is particularly a crucial consideration for anyone that plans to run or jog regularly. High-quality treadmills will incorporate a cushioning system to reduce the impact on your joints and ligaments.
Good cushioning is extremely beneficial to protect not only the user, but the machine itself. This is done by using a shock-absorbent layer positioned under the belt. Many machines feature a suspension system that is adjustable to suit the user and variable conditions.
Ensure that there are at least 2”-3” in diameter, better quality machines, utilise computerized rollers for even tracking. Rubber-coated front rollers and high quality bearings will help ensure longevity, and maintains correct belt tension.
Size and StorageAfter deciding where one is going to place the machine, one will need to take some accurate measurements of that space, and write that down on your list. Ensure the area has ample room to access the machine and that the area is well ventilated leaving enough room for one to move your arms.
If one is planning on buying a portable unit, ensure one has enough room to access and fold the machine as well as easy access to its storage area. To note all possible storage areas, and write down the measurements of how much room is available in those areas are, add those to your list.
An area that allows for the placement of visual enhancements while exercising, e.g. Video, TV or a computer screen.
Emergency’s: Does the machine have a safety strap that will attach to your body and disable the machine if one fall’s? Look for features intended to minimize the risk of injury in the case of an accident, ensure the machine incorporates an emergency shut off system.
This will often be a magnet for a button that stops power to the machine if anything goes wrong. Some machines use a string which can be pulled in the case of an emergency; this can be more effective than pushing a button.
Handrails:Some prefer not to have a handrail because they restrict ones movement on the machine, it is wise to consider a machine that does as it will help prevent one falling off the side of the machine and subsequent injury. They are also useful helping one regain one’s balance in case of a misstep.
The console and electronics:
The console is similar to the dashboard of a modern car, much of the machines functionally and monitoring can be accessed from here. Ensure that be electronics come with a warranty with a minimum of three-years.
Modern machines come with a myriad of various features; many are useful while others perhaps not? Ensure that all the features that are available on any machine is practical, easy to use and read.
Measured ResultsWorkouts may be viewed and or logged on electronic displays, which track statistics, such as times, distance, speeds and much more. Data can be stored on iPods or computers allowing detailed analysis graphically or by list, information about heart rates and calories burned via an EKG grip.
Wireless Heart Rate Control Programs:
Ensure that the display indicates all required information in a clear large and easy-to-read. Ideally the basic information, the distance covered elapsed time, incline, speed and load should be displayed and rotated with minimal effort. All controls should be easy to reach and easy to adjust.
Heart rate monitors work by one of two methods, via the handgrips on the machine or a body strapping system. Heart rate monitors of the pulse type usually found on the handgrips are usually inaccurate, and usually on cheaper machines.
The majority of machines have heart rate monitors built in; heart-rate and calorie burn information are indispensable statistical figures that monitor how hard your heart is working and also provides information related to how many calories one has burned. These figures can be logged and are extremely helpful for determining your exercise achievements.
Many of the best treadmill machines have the ability to program an exercise workload according to a predetermined heart-rate level. A recommended heart-rate can be determined by inputting one’s weight and age into the machine, the incline is then altered with an appropriate workload. Multiple programs options allow variable types of workouts to suit your needs.
All critical components might be better than rollers; most electronics should carry a minimum of three years’ warranty. Longer warranties are found on expensive machines; look for a machine that has a lengthy warranty for all major components.
Extended warranties are often expensive and may not cover all the essential components in one’s machine.
Regardless of how well a machine is built, on occasion things, go wrong, a, decent solid, warranty, will reflect the manufacturer’s faith in the product.
It is particularly important to understand exactly which components are covered in the warranty and for how long. Be sure to check if there are any exclusions or conditions and who is responsible for shipping costs. Check the fine print and ensure one understand’s which conditions or circumstances may or may not void your warranties.
Be sure to check the manufacturers recommended maintenance procedures and operating procedures if any. Many machines require that the belt system receives periodical lubrication.
Buy a machine that offers all the requirements on your list from any of the undermentioned manufacturers, this will ensure one is buying high quality exercise equipment that will serve one well for many years with all the features one needs.
Checklist :What to look for:
- Electric /Manual
- Sensors including heart rate
- Belt with enough width. The wider the faster you can run.
- Incline to at least 10 (variable)
- Programs that varies load conditions challenging your heart-rate with your age, weight, and gender.
- Displays that indicate speed, time,pulse rate, distance and calorie burn
- Cushioning. For a lower impact on your joints and ligaments.
- Warranty that is comprehensive.
- Folding versus non folding for storage/weight as space and moving considerations
Time to Start Treadmill Shopping
Browse amazon.com the largest online retailer in the world, they sell an extraordinary large volume of fitness equipment. They always offer the best prices with excellent specials; one can read the user comments about other customers treadmill buying experiences.
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4. “Physical Fitness.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 July 2012. Web. 30 July 2012.
5. “Running.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 July 2012. Web. 30 July 2012.
6. “Treadmill.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 July 2012. Web. 30 July 2012.