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Choosing a Treadmill

Wednesday, August 4th

Choosing a Treadmill

Treadmills are a great way to get an excellent cardiovascular workout at home when it best fits into your schedule. Regular use of a treadmill is effective at helping you lose weight and tone your hips, legs and thighs. Today, treadmills range from the most basic model with no frills to those with high-tech workout programs, TV's, and more. When shopping for a treadmill it's important to do your research and consider the following factors in the product you choose:

  • Belt Ply and Size. Often this is a hard lesson learned for a novice buyer. Belts come with a one or two-ply rating. For a higher quality belt, the two-ply is suggested and should last longer. Experts recommend at least a 17-inch belt for the average consumer, but wider belts are better as they allow more room to move around. Belt length is also important. A 48-inch minimum length is suggested for a comfortable ride, and runners should consider at least 60 inches in order to properly stretch your legs.
  • Motor Size. Motor size impacts the strength and smoothness of a treadmill ride. A good treadmill needs a motor that ranks well in continuous duty power. Experts say at least a 2.0 HP continuous duty motor is necessary for most users, but consider a 2.5 HP if you run a lot. Also, if a quiet treadmill motor is important to you, look for a DC motor. These are generally not commercial-grade but will offer a quiet workout so that you can watch TV, listen to music, or allow others to sleep if nearby.
  • Console. The consoles on today's treadmills range from basic to high-tech. Ideally, you would want to know your speed, distance, calories burned, and time. Others offer additional features, such as safety switches, pre-programmed workouts, heart rate, MP3 players, and TV's. Before making a treadmill purchase be sure to identify the features of the console that are important to you to ensure you get what you want.
  • Weight Capacity. For those over 200 pounds, it's important to check the maximum body weight allowed on any treadmill you consider. A treadmill designed for lighter individuals is going to feel sluggish and wobbly for those exceeding the capacity. Parts are also more likely to wear down and break in a shorter period of time.
  • Cost. Most of us have a budget to maintain and with so many brands of treadmills you'll see prices run the gamut. Companies that make the best treadmills use the highest grade of parts and components available for comfort and duration. You'll need to balance quality, price and features when choosing a treadmill you can afford. Several companies offer financing on their treadmills to assist with a large purchase.
  • Return Policy. In the event your treadmill shows up and you change your mind, which some of us like to do, will you be able to return the equipment for a full refund? Choosing a treadmill that comes with a return policy is a smart decision. Several companies offer a 30-day trial offer when purchasing a treadmill.
  • Warranty. Any time you make a purchase that costs several hundreds of dollars or more a product warranty that covers broken parts and repairs for a period of time is essential. Some quality treadmills come with a lifetime warranty on the motor, five-year replacement for parts, and two years on labor associated with repairs. Others offer coverage that is significantly shorter that seems to run out right before the first repair is needed.
  • Quality. Companies that use quality parts and closely monitor manufacturing are always going to provide a better treadmill. Look for independent reviews and customer feedback on different treadmill brands and models. Specific brands have a better history of providing quality products over time than others.

Selecting a treadmill that works well and is comfortable for your body size is going to encourage you to spend more time exercising and ultimately achieving your fitness goals. It's also important to balance quality and price in the treadmill you choose. Comparing different brands and models will lead you to what best fits your personal needs and budget. Finally, finding independent product reviews and consumer feedback is going to give you the insight you need in finding a quality product that you'll be satisfied with over time.

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Treadmill FAQ

As one of the most commonly-used pieces of gym equipment, treadmills are usually the first machine people think of when setting up a workout space at home. Whatever your level of fitness, a treadmill can help you make progress: from low-intensity walking to running intervals on an incline, the possibilities are endless (and they don't depend on the weather!)
It depends on the model you choose. Some machines allow you to fold the tread surface up towards the console, similar to a Murphy bed. But, with the higher-end machines that come with plenty of features like live-coached workouts or sky-high incline capabilities, you're likely to need a reasonable amount of floor space. Check the dimensions of any treadmills you're considering and compare them against the places you're thinking of keeping your machine.
You might be surprised to learn that you can get a basic treadmill for under $600. On the other end of the spectrum, you'll see prices in the $9,000 and up range for models exactly like what you'd use at a fitness center or gym. Fortunately, there are plenty of mid-range options that give you good features, top-notch tech and durability without breaking your budget.
Yes. Coverage varies, and most manufacturers have different timeframes of warranty protection for the frame, electronics, and any labor costs. You may also be able to add an extended warranty and/or maintenance plan, to keep your treadmill in good shape for longer.
How does "free" sound? Many retailers of treadmills give you no-cost delivery. Just be aware that if you return your treadmill, you're likely to be on the hook for the shipment costs to get it back to the store (and your refund may have their original shipping costs deducted from it!).
Check the retailer's policies. Many offer return periods of 30-60 days, but some provide none at all. You may have to pay restocking fees of up to 25% too, in addition to the return shipping costs (which could get expensive on such a heavy piece of equipment).
Yes, though not all retailers offer it as an add-on service with your treadmill purchase. Look for that option during the checkout process. Otherwise, the company might be able to recommend an installer in your area. If all else fails, it might be worth it to call a fitness center or sporting goods store near you to get the name of a professional they trust.
There's no better way to get the world's widest selection of treadmills - at the best prices. Shopping online makes it easy and even fun to check out all of the latest features and see what customers say about the machines once they're in home use. And, there's no need to rent a truck or try to fit your treadmill in the back of your car with so many retailers offering free delivery right to your doorstep.
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