Choosing a treadmill that’s right for you
Treadmills are a great option for general home fitness or for the serious runner who wants the extra flexibility of all-weather running.
Almost anything you can do on a street run or walk you can do on a treadmill. Hills, tempo, intervals, long distance – any time, in all weather.
But how do you avoid your expensive new treadmill becoming that unwanted machine in the corner of your rumpus room?
The simplest way is to buy the treadmill that is right for you and your budget.
How much should I pay for a treadmill?
This depends on what you are using it for, and how often, as well as what extra functions you want.
- Entry level models (less than $1000) – suitable for walking only, limited functions.
- Basic models ($1000 to $1500) – suitable for jogging and light running. Includes features like auto incline.
- Intermediate models ($1500 to $3000) – suitable for more serious running. Good quality, powerful motors with suspension running decks and extra workout options. Usually the best value option for regular use and durability.
- Advanced/semi-commercial models ($3000+) – a long-term investment, these models have larger running decks, stronger frames and more powerful motors that can take the extra punishment of long distance or frequent use.
What things should I look for when buying a treadmill?
There are some key things to consider when looking at the range of different treadmills for sale.
Running belt size
The ideal running belt size is relative to your stride length and gait (the natural side-to-side movement everyone has when they walk or run). The taller you are the longer your walking or running stride. Your gait will determine the best width for the running belt.
At a minimum you want a belt that is at least 46cm wide by 123cm long for walking. For running you need to get a longer length belt – at least 46cm wide and 135cm long.
The wider an longer the running belt the more comfortable and stable you will feel on the treadmill. Advanced treadmills offer belts up to 55cm width and 152cm long.
Every treadmill has a running deck beneath the belt. Usually the deck is made of laminated wood and is coated with a silicone lubricant to minimise friction between the running belt and the deck. The lubricant reduces strain on the motor and smooths the motion of the belt.
The deck rests on pads that provide the suspension and help absorb the shock of walking or running.
How the deck is constructed has a major influence on how hard your treadmill feels to run on and how well it protects you from the shock of landing after each step.
Thicker decks and soft shock absorbing pads will provide the maximum impact absorption.
Lower priced treadmills may have decks 16mm thick, while higher priced models may be up to 25mm think.
The horsepower rating measures the motor’s power.
Look for the Continuous Horsepower Power (CHP) rating. This is the best indicator of how the treadmill will operate. CHP ratings are usually between 1.5 CHP and 3.5 CHP.[quote]Don’t be fooled by cheap treadmills that boast of having a 6 HP motor. These advertisements are quoting the peak power rating, which is the motor’s maximum power before it will fail, not the horsepower for sustained operation.[/quote]
At a minimum you will need 1.5 CHP for an entry level treadmill. For walking and running ideally select a model with at least 2.0 CHP. For serious running look for 3.0 to 3.5 CHP.
Also remember that the heavier the person using the treadmill the strong the motor will need to be.
The computer console should include a range of in-built training programs to help keep your workouts interesting and to allow you to record your goals.
At a minimum the console should display accurate information about you running/walking time, distance, speed, incline and heart rate (most treadmills now include a heart rate monitor and training program. Many consoles will also include the ability to play music or video, either via your phone, iPod, iPad or tablet, and some will even allow you to access the internet direct. Some advanced models include access to online fitness monitoring programs.
How long will a treadmill last?
On average a treadmill will last about 10 years. With proper care your treadmill may even last longer.
The main enemy’s to a treadmills long life are dust and belt friction.
- Dust the treadmill regularly
- Vacuum around and under the treadmill as often a practical
- Lubricate between the belt and running deck with an silicone lubricant specifically designed for treadmills
This simple, short maintenance program will help keep you treadmill going for many years.
What do I look for in a warranty?
In general treadmills with a higher price and made out of superior materials come with a longer the warranty.
The most import thing to consider to the warranty on the motor. This is the most expensive part of a treadmill and you need you ensure you have a least 10 years coverage.
Other features should include a 2 year warranty on parts and 1 year for in-home labour. Problems usually appear in the first 3 to 6 months and in-home servicing means you won’t need to return the treadmill to the place of purchase or a service depot.
It is important to remember that warranties will not cover wear-and-tear, only manufacturing faults.
Is a home treadmill worth it?
If you’d rather not go to a commercial gym and prefer the idea of exercising in your own home, garage or shed, in your own time and regardless of the weather, a treadmill could be the ideal investment in a healthier lifestyle.
With models to suit everyone’s need, treadmills have been the most popular home fitness equipment for many years.
The important thing is to get the machine that is right for you and your fitness needs.
Get some expert advice, go into the shop – take your running shoes – and try out the different options.
At Mr Treadmill we’re sure there is a treadmill just right for everyone!
Mr Treadmill – Where quality and service matters.