Before you start reading treadmill reviews, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Where will I Put it?
Do you have enough dedicated floorspace for a 7 by 3’ machine? If not, consider looking at folding treadmills that can fold down when in use and then fold up against a wall the rest of the time.
How much can I afford?
High-end treadmills can cost thousands of dollars while simple second–hand ones may go for less than a hundred. Decide ahead of time what you plan to spend. This will help narrow your search. Don’t forget to consider your gym membership. If you plan to replace it with the purchase of your treadmill, then perhaps you can afford to spend a bit more. Try to be realistic. A treadmill at home is going to give you far fewer work out options than a full gym. It’s also going to lack the company you find when you can share a workout with friends and neighbors.
What are my exercise goals?
The way you plan to use your treadmill can help narrow down your choices. If you just want a way to keep moving during the winter, your needs will be relatively simple. If you plan to train for the first marathon of spring, doing most of your training indoors, then you’ll need a very durable, high-quality machine. In addition, running is more comfortable on a slightly wider (22” as opposed to 20”), and longer (55” as opposed to 60”) belt than walking.
Will I be the only one using it?
A shared treadmill not only gets more use, but it may also need to accommodate different styles of exercise. If more than one person will be using it, discuss the purchase together so you can be sure the one you choose will meet everyone’s needs.
What features do I want?
Distinguish between the features you absolutely have to have and the ones that are merely on your “wish list”.
When using a treadmill, the two features that determine the difficulty of your workout are incline and speed.
“Incline” is the slant, or tilt, of the treadmill. You can use the treadmill with the platform flat and parallel to the ground or you can adjust it to slant upwards so that you’re moving slightly uphill. More expensive machines are sometimes capable of steeper inclines.
Your choice of speed can vary from a selection of set speeds on the simplest treadmills to a variable, programmed, workout on higher-end models.
Both speed and incline will be set using a control panel mounted on the front of the treadmill. Decide how simple or complex you want your controls to be. Make sure the configuration on the panel is one that you’ll be comfortable with.
Working out on a treadmill can be hot work. Look for a treadmill that has a place to put a bottle of water and a small towel. If you’re going to be walking, look for a place to set a book so you have the option of reading while working out.
Other treadmill features include:
- Power incline vs manual incline
- Built-in fan
- Built-in television
- Access to “on-demand” videos of work out classes
- A read out of distance, time and speed traveled
- Shock absorption
- Wireless heart monitor
- Heart rate controlled work out program
- Web-enabled touch screen
- A reversible deck that extends the life of the machine
- Maintenance-free belt vs belt that needs occasional waxing
Whatever treadmill you choose, if it’s your only form of exercise, try to use it for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week. 2 or more days a week of additional strength training is recommended.