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What To Look For In A Treadmill

Eating a healthy diet, in combination with getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, is the best way to keep our bodies and our minds healthy.

For some people, fitting in the recommended amount of exercise weekly can be a real challenge. With busy work and home lives, spare time doesn't seem to be as abundant. Those of us who can find the time may visit a fitness club a few times a week. Others of us may play sports. But at least 62 percent of U.S. adults have admitted they do not get the recommended amount of exercise weekly. Of those, another 46 percent admit they also do not eat as healthy of a diet as they should. Combine a lack of exercise with a not-so-wholesome diet, and it can be deadly for our waistlines and our health.

Some people find it easier to fit in a workout if they have equipment at home. It's a lot easier to find the time to exercise if you can do it on your terms and your schedule, rather than being forced to fit it in when the local fitness center is open.

If you are one of those people, and you wish to include some fitness equipment into a home gym, one of the best choices is a treadmill. Treadmills are the number-one selling piece of fitness equipment on the market today, and it's easy to see why. They are durable and versatile, providing a variety of ways to exercise so that the user will never get bored.

Treadmills are designed to provide compression-type exercise, which makes your bones and muscles stronger through high-impact exercise. The impact felt when using a treadmill helps to keep bones strong and prevent the onset of diseases like osteoporosis. The downside to having a high-impact workout is that it may not be best for people who have joint, hip or knee pain. If you fit into this category, using a treadmill can aggravate your condition and should be avoided in favor of another piece of equipment, such as a recumbent bicycle or an elliptical trainer. Those pieces of equipment provide low-impact cardiovascular exercise, which is easier on the joints.

If you have decided that a treadmill is right for you, then there are some basic guidelines to follow to help ensure that you purchase a quality piece of equipment that will fit your lifestyle and your exercise goals.

The first thing to do is to make sure you have adequate space to use and store a treadmill. The average length of most commercial models of treadmill is between 70 and 82 inches. This measurement includes the motor, the control panel and the running belt. Treadmills are generally 30 to 40 inches wide, which includes the width of the running belt and the safety side mounts. If you are having trouble picturing just how large that is, consider the size of an average loveseat, and that is how much space you can expect a treadmill to occupy.

In addition to the size of the unit itself, it also is important to leave adequate space around the machine while it is in use. Most treadmill manufacturers recommend providing at least two to three feet of floor space around the front end of the unit, and three to eight feet behind it.

As important as having enough space is the quality of the machine. Only choose a machine that has a frame built of at least 11 gauge steel. Anything below that will make the treadmill less stable and more likely to break under heavier weight.

You also will want to make sure the running/walking deck is of adequate size. Anything under the specifications listed above likely will make it harder for you to properly exercise on the equipment.

Lastly, choose a machine you can afford, but which has as many "bells and whistles" as possible. You can expect to spend between $1,000 and $3,500 for a quality machine, with the more expensive models having the most features.

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