Wondering how to buy a treadmill? One of the questions I get asked most often is ‘What do I look for when buying a treadmill? Where do I start?”
The confusion is understandable. Years ago, you had limited options when buying a home treadmill. Now there are over 30 brands alone – with each one having from 3 – 20 different models.
And new models come out every year. So it can be confusing.
The good news is that since your choices have increased – you can get a much better treadmill now than you could several years ago. You can also get more for your money since manufacturers have become more competitive in this economy.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B0030EW7Q8″ display=”inlinepost”]The problem is that most buyers don’t know what to look for. This article will help lay out what to look at when choosing a treadmill. So you’ll know how to buy a treadmill that fits your needs best.
How To Buy a Treadmill – Step #1: Know What To Look For
There are some main features when choosing a treadmill that you need to look at. They are:
Motor – The motor powers your treadmill. Especially if you’re planning on frequent use of the treadmill you want a well-built, strong motor. Most people want a high motor power (2.5 continuous duty HP or higher). Keep in mind that a 1.5 HP motor has to work twice as hard as a 3.0 HP motor. So it probably won’t last as long.
Another thing to look at is motor warranty as it often indicates the quality of the motor. Since the motor can be expensive to fix you want to protect your investment. Anything over 5 years is good.
Belt/Walking Area – Walking areas vary but one of the main things to look at is length of belt. The taller you are, the longer your belt needs to be. If you’re planning to run, you may want a longer belt which gives you room to move. Most people are fine with a 55″ long belt. However taller users may prefer to go higher than that (58 or 60″) just to give them extra room to move.
Cushioning – This is one of the most important features to have – however many buyers forget about it. A good cushioning system protects your knees, hips, back and ankles. Most treadmills have their own form of cushioning system and some even have adjustable cushioning so you can choose the deck firmness that feels best.
A general rule is that the higher you go in price, the better the cushioning. Don’t expect that $500 department store special to give you much – if anything – in terms of cushioning.
Incline – Incline raises the ramp on your treadmill and most home units offer between 0 -10% or even 15% incline. Most offer power incline (where you press a button on the console and the incline changes automatically).
However the more economical units sometimes offer manual incline (which means you have to get off your treadmill to change it). There are some treadmills (called incline trainers) that even offer up to 40% incline which can burn a lot of calories very fast. So it really depends on what you want.
Warranty – A good warranty protects your investment. The length of warranty often tells you about the quality of parts used to build the treadmill. Warranties cover different treadmill parts for different lengths of time.
A good warranty will cover the frame for at least 5 years, the motor for at least 3 years, parts and labor for at least 1 year. Anything above this is even better
Folding/Non-Folding – Some people need a folding treadmill. A folding unit can save space and make it easier to clean. However non-folding treadmills can feel a bit sturdier overall.
Stability – The more stable the treadmill, the more comfortable you feel using it. You don’t want it to shake or wobble when you pick up the pace. You get what you pay for in this area. Higher end treadmills generally feel more stable than those under $1000.
Other indicators of solid stability can be the actual treadmill machine weight (the higher the better) and the user weight capacity (i.e. a 350 lb user weight capacity treadmill is going to feel more stable than a 250 lb user weight capacity treadmill, other things being equal.)
Fun Factors – This can be anything you want in a treadmill from a built-in TV to Internet-downloaded workout programs to iPod docks to workout fans. If there’s something you specifically want in a treadmill in order to enjoy your workouts, look for these things as well. They may not seem as important as the other stuff like cushioning or motor – but they contribute to your overall enjoyment. And that can be the key that keeps you using your treadmill over the long term.
So those are some features to look at. The next question when looking at how to buy a treadmill is:
How To Buy a Treadmill – Step #2: How Much Are You Planning to Use It?
For example a walker who only plans on using it 3-4 times a week for less than an hour can probably get by with spending a little less on their treadmill. A runner who plans on every day use for 1 hour or more definitely needs more than that – like a strong deck, great cushioning, well built motor and extra long warranty.
Also, ask yourself if there will be more than 1 person using it (i.e. are you buying it for the family?). Multiple users mean more wear and tear – which again means you need a stronger, better-built machine.
How To Buy a Treadmill – Step #3: What’s Your Budget?
Many buyers have a budget when they go treadmill shopping. Knowing the highest price you’re willing to pay can help you narrow down your field of choices significantly. Remember to consider the extras you may have to pay like shipping costs, treadmill mats, handweights, etc.
Once you know what you want, how much you’re planning to use it and your budget, you have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Time to see what’s out there.
How To Buy a Treadmill – Step #4 – Compare, Review and Research Your Options
This is the fun part. The Internet is great for researching your treadmill. You can find specs, reviews, pictures and even videos. There are websites like mine that offer brand reviews and then show you a list of the latest treadmill models, prices and where to buy them at a discount.
Reading user reviews at sites like epinions can give you a good overall picture of the treadmill quality and track record. Remember however that all reviews are just one person’s opinion. And people are often motivated more to complain than to praise – which can give an inaccurate picture of the treadmill.
How To Buy a Treadmill – Step #5: Choose Your Best Treadmill
Once you’ve done steps 1 – 4 you probably have a great idea of what you want. And you’ve probably found several treadmills that you like.
So now all that’s left is to order your chosen treadmill. There are a few places you can buy. You can buy at your local store or go online. At a local store you have the advantage of trying the treadmill out.
Online, you have a few advantages like choosing from a larger selection, getting lower prices and usually saving on shipping costs and sales tax.
So those are 5 steps on how to buy a treadmill. Choosing your treadmill can be a lot of fun – and it can pay off when you find one you really love. Take your time, do your research and you’re practically guaranteed to find the best treadmill for you.
Kathryn ONeill writes for http://www.TreadmillReview.net a site offering the latest treadmill brand reviews, product ratings and money saving tips.
For a list of manufacturers that sell treadmills direct to consumer visit the Where To Buy A Treadmill page
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