Aerobic flyers, ab rollers, and other fitness fads may come and go, but the trusty treadmill has stood the test of time.Treadmills are much less likely to end up in next year’s garage sale for one simple reason–people use them.
Exercising at home has many perks, especially among today’s time-crunched families. Studies have shown that people who have home fitness equipment are more likely to exercise consistently than those who have gym memberships or attend fitness classes. At home, the machine is right there in sight, calling your name. It’s much easier to get a quick 20- minute workout when you don’t have to find matching socks or fight through gridlock traffic.
One of the main reasons people buy treadmills rather than other machines is because the movement required is something they already know how to do. With all the treadmills on the market, you really have to be a savvy shopper. Your first stop should be the nearest fitness specialty store. To make sure you get the best machine for your money, you should follow some tips.
Measure the space allocated for the machine both horizontally and vertically. You don’t want to bump your head on the ceiling every other step.Bring a measuring tape with you to the store. Leave home dressed for a workout. Test the equipment at the level you expect to use it and stay on the machine for at least 10-15 minutes.
Exercise equipment is not supposed to make you seasick. If the treadmill rocks back and forth, forget it. Sturdy construction will not only ensure durability, but also make your workouts more enjoyable. Parts of the machine should be welded together, not held together by nuts and bolts that will soon jiggle loose.
Shoppers may also want to consider purchasing a short-term gym membership to try out equipment. Many gyms offer a one-month trial membership and some even give one- to two-week free memberships.
Added features usually mean added dollars. Fancy programs and heart monitors may serve as motivation, but many people find these addons unnecessary. If you are pinching pennies, look for quality parts and sturdy construction, and skip the virtual racing programs and automated pacers. It is always better to go in knowing what you need, rather than letting a salesman talk you into something.
Sit down with the retailer and review the warranty. Get everything in writing and ask questions. Does the retailer assemble the treadmill? Does it have a weight limit? Be aware that some warranties may be voided if the user is over a specified weight. Keep all the packaging just in case you need to return the machine.
The first thing to investigate on a treadmill is the motor. Depending if you are walking or running, you can easily place 80 to 250 percent of you weight on the treadmill every time your foot hits the belt. It’s the motor’s job to take a beating and still keep a constant speed.
Overall motor strength is measured in ‘continuous’ horsepower. But, things get tricky, Some cheaper treadmills advertise a deceptively higher ‘peak’ horsepower rating to make up for below-average continuous-duty rating.
When inspecting the belt, comfortable length and width should be your main concern. Get a belt that is too short and, with one foul step, you could end up slamming into a wall. But too large a belt makes the treadmill work harder, adding wear and tear to the motor.
Advanced treadmills come with a series of customized workouts that act as your personal training coach. Some offer preprogrammed workouts that automatically adjust grade and speed as you exercise to keep your heart at a steady aerobic rate. There also is space to program several of your own workouts.
Buying a treadmill can be a costly investment. Many fitness experts will tell you that a solid, dependable treadmill costs at least $1,000. But knowing what to look for can save you hundreds of dollars.