Questions You Must Answer Before Buying a Treadmill
Who is using the treadmill?
It is important to know the number of people using the treadmill, the weight of the heaviest person and how everyone will exercise using the treadmill.
The number of people using the treadmill will directly affect the durability that you will need in the treadmill. If two people are using it on a regular basis it will wear out twice as quickly as if only one person is using it. If three people are using it, it will wear out three times as quickly, and so on. Durability is loosely related to price, the more durable a model you need, the more you must be prepared to spend for it.
The weight of the heaviest person using the treadmill fits into a spec that most of the treadmills have, the maximum user weight. If you exceed the maximum user weight for the treadmill, you can expect to have problems much sooner than you normally would.
How everyone will use the treadmill is also important. Treadmills are generally designed to fit one of three types of users: walkers, walkers/joggers, and serious runners. As you move from walker to serious runner the treadmills will become more expensive.
What features do you need?
As you select a treadmill you should consider the following features: Maximum speed, running area length, track cushioning, and horsepower.
Maximum speed is very similar to user type. People usually walk between 2 and 4 miles per hour. Joggers will often jog between 5 and 7 ½ miles per hour. Serious runners may run from 8 to 12 miles per hour. As the speed you need goes up the price of the treadmill will go up, so not overbuying on the speed of the treadmill will allow you to reduce the cost of the treadmill.
The running area length needed is a combination of how you will use the treadmill and how long your stride is. As you move from walking to running your stride gets longer and you need a longer running length. Also, taller users will tend to have a longer stride and will want a longer running area.
I would always recommend cushioning for the treadmill track. It takes strain off of the knees and back. That being said, cushioning becomes more important as you move faster on the treadmill. It is much more important for runners than for walkers.
Horsepower is the trickiest feature. Bigger is generally better; a more powerful motor will tend to last longer. However, the construction style and quality of the motor is also important, so a bigger motor will not always outlast a smaller motor. Because of the difference in motor quality you may have to rely on the reputation of the manufacturer to put an appropriate motor in the treadmill.
How much can you afford to pay?
If you are strictly going to use the treadmill for walking you should be able to find something appropriate for under $1,000. If you are going to use it for walking and jogging the price will probably be between $1,000 and $2,000. If you are a serious runner you will probably need to pay more than $2,000.
Greg Carleu is the founder of Treadmill Select.
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