As a personal trainer, I get asked many times about what brand of treadmill to buy. However, from personal experience, I will not buy based on name because there are many more factors to consider. I will also not review any brand in this article. Do not simply walk into a shop and get tempted by "$0 Deposit, 0% interest" deals. An impulsive purchase like that will leave you regretting for many years later.
Before going into the specifics of how to choose a treadmill, you need to sit down and think about the following questions:
1. What is the reason for getting a treadmill? If you want something to do your daily walks at a pace that raises your heart rate, you can opt for a treadmill with a low maximum speed and no incline. However, if you are planning to get in shape for a vacation where you will be hiking and biking, then you should opt for something with higher maximum speed and incline functions.
2. What is your budget? There are many good models you can purchase for $2000 or less. I suggest $2000 because most people cannot afford $3000+ for a treadmill and I know you can get a good treadmill for less. There are great deals online so shop around.
Once you have decided on the reason and budget, you have to do the following before you go shopping for your treadmill.
1. Measure the floor area you have to position your treadmill.
2. If you want a treadmill that folds, measure the storage area you have for the folded treadmill.
3. Measure the weight of the heaviest person that will be using the treadmill. Each treadmill has a maximum weight limit. If you weigh between 45kg - 90kg (99lbs - 198lbs), a treadmill with 100kg (220lbs) weight limit will be sufficient.
Now you are ready to go shopping for a treadmill.
Standard features that should come in a treadmill for your home. These are features that will be important to you.
1. Foldable - As a home user, you never know if one day, you will have visitors to your house or need to move house. A foldable treadmill on wheels will make repositioning the treadmill a breeze.
2. Electronics - Heart Rate monitor, Time read-out, Distance read-out, Speed read-out, Calories burned. An electronic "track" lighting up to show my progress. At least 5 preset programmes and 3 more programmable slots for you to define your own workout routine.
3. Belt - Try out your shortlisted treadmills. Take note of how long and wide it is. Bottom line: you must be able to run comfortably on it.
4. Horse Power - Most people do not pay attention to the horse power of the motor. Look for the term continuous duty rating. Look for something between 1.5 to 2.5 horsepower. Some have horsepower of 3. You do not need one that powerful but if you do not mind the extra cost you pay for a model with a horsepower of 3, that is fine.
5. Make sure the treadmill counts down when starting and the speed increases progressively when you start it. I have been on treadmills that start at the speed I set without counting down and have to immediately lower the speed manually. All treadmills should allow you to change your speed at any time using the arrow keys. Do not buy it if it does not allow you to do that.
6. Water Bottle holder - This should be a standard feature on most models. This is especially important if you do long walks or runs lasting 30 minutes or longer on your treadmill.
7. Speed Range - Look for one that goes up to 15km/h (9mph). An average person will not need more speed than that. A power walker walks at 7km/h to 8km/h (4.3mph to 5 mph). You will be jogging above 8km/h (5mph) and at 12km/h (7.5mph), you will be running.
8. Safety Key - This is a feature that will allow you to stop the treadmill immediately in the case of an emergency.
9. Warranty period - Look for a treadmill with 1 year or longer warranty periods. Do not purchase if the warranty period is less than 1 year. Do not be deceived by "X years warranty on frame". Ask about the warranty on ALL parts, such as belts and electronics.
Optional Features you may want. These are features that will cost you more but if you feel that they are important to you, please go ahead and choose a model with these features.
1. Incline - Running at an incline, even at 1 degree, allows you to burn more calories as compared to running with no incline. Look for one that inclines at least 10 degrees and if you can afford, go for one that can incline 15 degrees or more.
2. Speakers - New treadmill models now have speakers where you can plug in your Ipod or MP3 player to play music from the built-in speakers while you run.
3. Fan - A few treadmills have a built-in fan. This will limit your choice of treadmills as there are not many models around with this feature.
Before heading down to your nearest fitness store, do your research online so that you do not waste too much time talking to salespeople who will try to sell you their latest models with the highest premiums.
Some precautions to take with a treadmill:
1. Please do not start an exercise programme before checking with your doctor.
2. Remove the safety key when not in use so that kids cannot fiddle around with your treadmill. They may get very hurt if their clothes get caught in the treadmill.
I hope this article has been helpful. Enjoy your machine.
About the Author: Colin Tan is a fashion model, fitness trainer and sports nutritionist based in Singapore. See more of his articles at http://www.nutritionpark.com .
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