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Treadmill Buying Guide

Treadmills are the most popular home exercise machines. Practically anything your cardio training demands – hills, tempo, intervals, long distance – you can do on a treadmill. And you can record walking and running distance while watching Seinfeld re-runs or keeping an eye on your kids, without worrying about heat, cold, wind, rain, darkness or damaged footpaths. Before we explain more, though, a word of caution: Treadmills can be expensive, and they’re complex. A bad buying decision may leave you with one more inactive machine lying in the corner of your rumpus room. So tread carefully these points for choosing the best treadmill:


Price is of course a critical factor for most of us, and it is always important to purchase a treadmill that fits your budget as well as your fitness goals. It is important, however, to look beyond the price tag to the value represented by each model. Unfortunately, the best treadmills on the market also tend to be the most expensive, so it is important to strike a good balance between price, quality and value as you shop.

It is important to look for a treadmill that is built to last, as a well built treadmill will be less expensive to operate in the long run. Replacing a shoddily built treadmill after only a few years ago could end up costing far more than buying a better model up front.

There are of course a number of ways to maximize value when it comes to buying treadmills, including purchasing floor models, purchasing last year’s treadmill model and shopping at the outlet stores. In addition there a number of excellent sellers of quality treadmills on the internet, and they can often provide competitive prices on superior treadmill brands.


Another critical factor that many first time treadmill shoppers forget is the size of the unit. Treadmills are by definition large pieces of equipment, and an exercise device that allows users to easily run or walk indoors can take up a great deal of space.

One way to fit that new treadmill into your home as well as your workout routine is to look for a model that folds easily when not in use. These foldable treadmills allow the track of the treadmill to easily fold against the wall when the unit is not in use, freeing up much needed floor space. It is important to look for a folding mechanism that is smooth and easy to operate.

The Motor

The motor is the heart and soul of any treadmill, and it is important that the motor on the treadmill be large enough to move the treadbelt easily and efficiently. Generally speaking, the larger the running surface of the treadmill the larger the motor should be.

It is important to consider both the peak duty rating and the continuous duty rating on the treadmill, especially for larger users. Those treadmill users who weigh more than 185 pounds should look for a motor with a continuous duty rating of at least 1.5 horsepower.

The warranty period on the motor is an important factor as well. Many of the better home treadmill manufacturers provide lifetime warranties on their motors, and the motor warranty can be a good indication of not only the quality of the motor but the quality of the treadmill itself.

The Treadbelt

As we stated earlier, the size of the treadbelt should be an important consideration for those in the market for a treadmill. The walking and running surface of the deck should be at least 3/4″ thick for maximum comfort. A thicker walking surface will be more comfortable, and the thicker surface will also minimize the risk of injury.

As for the size of the running surface, buyers should strive for a deck of at least 48″ long by 17″ long. This larger running surface will also help to reduce the risk of injury and help ensure users do not accidentally slip off the track while exercising. Those who plan to run or jog on their treadmills will want to look for the largest treadbelt surface they can find, while walkers may be able to get away with a somewhat smaller surface.

Preset Functions

When it comes to preset workout routines, heart monitors, pulse monitors and the like, it is important to look for those features that are most important to you. There are many different choices when it comes to monitoring your workout, and it is important to consider how you will use the treadmill. While serious marathon runners may need to look for a treadmill that can track target heart rate down to the second, those simply seeking to get in shape may need a less elaborate setup.

No matter which type of electronics you select, however, it is important to look carefully at the warranty period. If the electronics is an important part of the workout experience, be sure to look for a treadmill that provides a lengthy warranty on those features. This is an especially important consideration, since repairs to these items can be quite costly.

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