Are you considering buying a treadmill?
The enormous variety of models on the market can make the task of choosing one overwhelming. To the first time buyer the bewildering range of models can lead many into information overload and make the task of selecting a suitable treadmill more difficult than it really is.
But by asking your self a few simple questions you should be able to make an informed choice regarding your treadmill purchase and end up with a treadmill that most closely matches your requirements. Ask your self the following questions in order to guide yourself through your decision making process:
How much are you prepared to spend?
Treadmill equipment can vary in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. A low budget powered treadmill can be purchased from around $500 but it would be naive to assume that this would be capable of performing the same kind off duty as a model costing $5000.
As with any other consumer item the price is going to give some measure of it's capability and quality. A treadmill can take a lot of punishment and should be expected to last several years so it is best to spend as much as you can afford taking into account some of the other factors listed below.
What is the treadmill going to be used for ?
This may seem a rather curious question to ask but people have many different reasons for owning and using a treadmill. These could be training to run a marathon, lose weight or just to keep fit. You need to give careful consideration to this question as not all treadmills will be suited to your intended use.
If you are a serious runner and looking for a treadmill to use in the winter months when it is too cold or wet to run out doors you need to consider treadmills with large motors, strong decks and long tread belts of 55" or greater length. Most treadmills suitable for running are priced at £1000 and upwards, while the most sub $1000 treadmills are only really suitable for walking and jogging.
How tall are you?
Another apparently strange question but as your height is proportional to your stride length, the taller you are, the longer your stride will be. This is important as a person with a longer than average stride length will require a longer running area than a person with a shorter stride. This is particularly true when someone is running on a treadmill.
Most domestic treadmills have a running surface that is around 55" in length, but if you are a taller user - 6' 3" or taller in height then you should really consider purchasing a treadmill with a running surface of at least 60". You will still be able to use a treadmill with a shorter running surface but you will be restricted and when running at full pace there will always be a concern that you may come of the treadmill altogether.
How much do you weigh?
This is an important factor to consider when purchasing a treadmill as one size (or weight) most definitely does not fit all. Most manufacturers will state the maximum user weight recommended for a particular model and the golden rule is not to exceed this weight limit.
Exceeding the weight limit will not only alter the way in which the deck absorbs the users foot impact but may also lead the deck to break. Using a treadmill that has not been designed to support a user's weight may also lead to the motor and the motor control circuitry over heating and the possibility of premature failure of one or both. The take away from this is always to choose a treadmill with a user weight that is greater than your actual weight.
How much room do you have?
Give some consideration to where you will store and or use your treadmill. If you have plenty of room in your home or a dedicated room that can be used to both store and use your treadmill then a non-folding treadmill is the obvious choice.
But if you are restricted on space or will have to site your treadmill in your main living area then a folding or "space saver" treadmill may be the way to go. These treadmills have decks that pivot and allow the running deck to be raised to an almost vertical position so that the treadmill then occupies a much smaller floor area.
There is a common misconception that folding treadmills are somehow weaker or inferior to non-folding treadmills but this is not necessarily the case. This notion has arisen because most non-folding treadmills are expensive commercial treadmills used in gym or health club environments where the ability to fold the treadmill up to save space is not a consideration.
What additional features do you require?
Modern treadmill equipment comes loaded with a confusing array of additional features. The manufacturers tend to compete with one another on the basis of how "feature rich" they can make their machines and it is pretty difficult to purchase just a "plain vanilla" treadmill.
A popular feature on many machines is a heart rate monitor that can be used to display your pulse. This can be measured by sensors on the handlebars or via wireless chest strap on some models.
Other features center around the programs built into the treadmill's computer. These programs are designed to help you with a specific type of workout and will take control of the machine, changing both the speed and incline and in some cases providing audio prompts to provide encouragement.
In addition to the pre-programmed workouts some machines offer the facility to design your own or purchase programs on memory cards such as the iFIT system.
Do you need to be entertained?
Increasingly people are looking to be entertained whilst working out on a treadmill. Pounding away for long periods of time can become boring and many manufacturers now offer some form of entertainment on their treadmill equipment.
This can range from an inbuilt speaker system with music port to connect an iPOD or other type of MP3 player to a flat screen TV. Some of the top of the range models even have displays that will display a virtual running environment so that the user is given the impression that they are running through woods or up a hillside.
By giving careful consideration to the questions above you should have a better idea of what to look for when purchasing treadmill equipment and stand a better chance of ending up with a treadmill that meets both your budget and your fitness requirements.
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Paul Reeve is a Personal Trainer, Presenter and Lecturer for Fitness Professionals, Sports Organizations, Sport Coaches, Corporate Organizations. Get FREE advice and research treadmill equipment by visiting www.treadmilladviser.com
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