The Best Way to Choose a Home Fitness Treadmill

Body Solid Endurance TreadmillTreadmills are One of the Most Popular Pieces of Fitness Equipment

With that being said, there are going to be many different styles, quality levels, and looks to choose from.  Time and time again research has shown that treadmills are the most effective way to burn calories on a piece of fitness equipment

Types of Fitness Treadmills

  1. Folding – These are treadmills that have a pivot point that allows the unit to fold up into itself to help conserve floor space after use.  You will typically pay $100 to $200 more for a folding version over a non-folding version.  Many of the higher end manufacturers do not produce folding treadmills due to the stability and durability issues associated with making a unit fold.  You will never see a folding treadmill in a health club.
  2. Non-Folding or Conventional – These are more like the treadmills that you see in health clubs.  They are going to have a more solid base and tend to be heavier built.
  3. Non-Motorized – These units can be found in both folding and non-folding versions.  The nice thing about a non-motorized treadmill is that you do not have a motor or electronics to wear out.  The drawback is that you have to be very disciplined to maintain your pace and most non-motorized treadmills are on the lower end.  There are exceptions from Hoggan Health and Woodway at the time of writing this article.

Steps in Choosing a Fitness Treadmill for Home

  1. How Many Users are in the Household?  The more people using the treadmill the better the components you are going to need.
  2. What are the users goals?  Do you have a child that is looking to train for a sport?  Are you trying to get in shape to do a 5k race?  Did you just get out of physical therapy and want to continue your treatments on your own at home?  All of this factors into how heavy duty of a machine you need and what features you are going to need. 
  3. Where is this going in my home?  Be sure to measure doorways and hallways to make sure the treadmillwill fit when it is being delivered.  Be sure to check the ceiling clearance too.  You will have to add the hight of the treadmill at the highest point of incline to the height of the tallest user to ensure that you can use it where you want it.  Also take into consideration the amount of floor space that is open where the unit is going to be set up.  Most treadmills will take up a 3ft x 6ft area while in use.  You also need to give at least a 4ft to 6ft cushion behind the treadmill in case the user falls off. 
  4. What Motor Size is right for you?  In searching for a fitness treadmill you will see many different types of horsepower ratings.  You will see peak, treadmill-duty, club-duty, continuous, etc.  You always want to look for a treadmill with at least a 1.5 Continuous Duty Horsepower Motor.  Continuous horsepower is the amount of power the motor can generate over a 24 hour period of continuous use.
  5. What Belt Size do I Need?  Belt width and length is very subjective.  It depends on the comfort level of the person on the fitness treadmill.  At the time of writing, the industry standard is 18 inches to 20 inches wide with many reaching up to 22 inches now.  Lengths vary from 52 inches up to 65 inches.  A person 6ft 6in tall can still run on a  tread belt that is 18 inches wide by 53 inches long.
  6. Programming or Manual?  Programs are designed to help in burning calories and breaking up boredom on the treadmill.  Heart rate control, interval courses, and hill courses all have a valid reason for being on the treadmilland are not just part of the “Bells and Whistles” that some manufacturers use to distract buyers from the hardware of the treadmill.  Almost all treadmills come with some sort of programming now.  How much is up to the end users and what they like.
  7. Do I Need Handrails?  Just like belt dimensions, this is a very subjective area.  Some people hate them because they interfere with their running form and others do not feel safe without them.
  8. Impact Absorption.  Try to avoid treadmills that have a spongy or diving board feel.  Just as an unforgiving surface, such as concrete, is not good for you a rebounding or too soft of a surface is not good.  You want to avoid soft surfaces such as orthopedic belts that claim to absorb more impact.  All orthopedic belts do is increase friction that transfers more heat to the motor compartment, are more expensive to replace, and wear out quickly without regular maintenance.  You can get the same benefit from a good pair of running shoes.  Also avoid springs or shocks that actually increase impact instead of reducing it.

In conclusion, fitness treadmills are extremely popular and efficient at burning calories.  There are many factors in selecting a fitness treadmill for home use such as space, amount of users, and personal preferences on belt dimensions and handrails.

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