Buying a treadmill: What should I look for?

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Buying a treadmill: What should I look for?

Question

I'll be buying a treadmill soon. What are the most important features to look for?

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Answer

Treadmills are among the most popular exercise machines. When you're buying a treadmill, keep these points in mind:

  • Motorized vs. manual. A motorized treadmill is easier to use than is the manual variety. A motorized treadmill allows you to adjust the speed for walking or running. It's difficult to walk briskly — much less jog or run — on a manual treadmill.
  • Horsepower. Higher horsepower treadmills generally run more smoothly and are more durable. Look for a treadmill with at least a 1.5 horsepower, continuous-duty motor. If you're planning to run on the treadmill, choose a treadmill with at least a 2.0 horsepower, continuous-duty motor.
  • Stability. The treadmill must be sturdy enough to support your weight, and the handrails should be easy to grip. While the treadmill is running, stomp your feet on the belt. There should be no groaning, grinding or hesitation in the motor. The treadmill should feel solid, not wobbly — even at an incline.
  • Size. The platform or belt should be both wide enough and long enough for comfortable walking or running. If space is an issue, look for a treadmill that folds up when not in use.
  • Safety features. Make sure the treadmill is equipped with an emergency shut-off key, clip or tether.
  • Programming features. The control panel should be easy to read and adjust while the treadmill is running. Consider which programming features are important to you — such as programmed workouts that vary speed and simulated terrain — but don't invest in features you're not likely to use.
  • Noise level. Make sure you're comfortable with the noise level of the treadmill, especially if you plan to watch TV or listen to music while you exercise.
  • Warranty. Make sure you understand the warranty details.

Above all, remember that you're buying a treadmill to make it easier to fit physical activity into your usual routine. The best treadmill isn't necessarily the most expensive or the most advanced — it's the one you'll be most likely to use regularly.

Last Updated: 2008-08-07
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