Treadmill Buying Guide

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Published April 28, 2010 | Updated April 21, 2015

The treadmill is one of the most reliable, easy-to-use pieces of home gym equipment available. When you're choosing a treadmill, you'll need to think about whether you'll use it more for running or for walking, and you'll need to consider how much space you have for it. Then, you can choose between one of the types of treadmills available.

Types of Treadmills:

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  • Manual Treadmills

    Non-motorized fitness machines have their advantages. For one, they are much lighter and easier to transport than motorized treadmills. Manual treadmills are also easier to fold up and store out of the way. It's a little more difficult to get the belt moving on a manual treadmill because your feet and legs are the motor. Many pieces of manual gym equipment do not have an adjustable incline. However, if you want an inexpensive home gym machine for light use, a manual treadmill would work fine for you.

  • Motorized Treadmills

    Horsepower, specifically continuous horsepower (CHP), is the most important aspect of any piece of motorized exercise equipment. A continuous horsepower rating of 1.5 to 2.5 is sufficient for a walker's home fitness routines. If you plan to do a lot of running, you will want a minimum of 2.5 CHP. A DC electric motor will run quieter than an AC motor; this is especially important if you like to watch TV while exercising.

  • Folding Treadmills

    If you want to save space but still workout on a motorized home gym machine, get a folding treadmill. After each workout, you can fold the platform up so the whole machine stands vertical, occupying less space. You'll want to know if it uses hydraulic cylinders to make folding easier. If not, folding the treadmill each day might become the biggest part of your workout. Think about whether or not you will be moving the treadmill around much after you fold it up. If you plan on pushing it into the corner or storing it in a closet, something with a good set of sturdy wheels -- preferably wheels that don't make contact with the floor until the treadmill is folded -- would be a must.

  • Treadmill Buying Tips:

  • Check Out the Power

    A stable running platform and good motor are a must for the jogger who trains on a treadmill. Runners will want to choose a treadmill with at least 2.25 continuous horsepower, which may be notated as "2.5 CHP" in the product description. If you select a folding treadmill, make sure it is heavy and durable.

  • Consider the Size

    Belt size will make a difference in your workout. Make sure you get something wide enough and long enough for you to have a comfortable workout. You'll also want to check the weight capacity.

  • Look for Heart Rate Monitors

    A heart rate monitor can be a valuable tool to help you measure your progress. Grip pulse monitors on the treadmill frame are the easiest to use since you don't have to worry about any wires getting in the way.

  • See What Settings Are Available

    Note how high an incline you can set. An inclining belt adds resistance to the workout, which helps you build and maintain muscle tone.

  • Think about the Programmed Workouts

    Varying your speed and incline throughout the workout will increase effectiveness, and some treadmills come with more programmed workouts than others. The intensity of a programmed workout may be just what you need to push yourself to a new level of fitness.

  • Don't Forget about Treadmill Mats

    A home gym mat can protect your flooring from heavy duty exercise machines. If you're worried about placing a treadmill on your nice floors, pick up a treadmill mat while you're shopping.