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Buying a Home Treadmill

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Updated July 11, 2007

The Difference Between Home Treadmills vs. Health Club Treadmills

A treadmill for commercial use must stand constant daily usage. Generally they are built like a tank. A treadmill for home use is a whole different story. Rather than running for 10 hours a day, it may only get used several hours a week. These are just a few guidelines that are important when purchasing a home treadmill. Buying the right treadmill now will prevent you from have to buy again in the near future.

How Much to Spend for a Home Treadmill?

A good treadmill is not cheap. Most people do not know what a home treadmill cost. They may have seen the Icon treadmills in Wal-Mart for several hundreds dollars and have the conception that is what is a starting price. Wrong!

Treadmills are machines that if used regularly, take an excessive beating. That's why if you want a home treadmill that will last, you're going to need to shovel out a few bucks. I would recommend for a good walking treadmill that withstand regular use, you start somewhere in the $1,000 range.

On the other hand, you don't need to spend $3,000 on a home treadmill that you will use occasionally for walking. Unless you have an obsession for big, expensive toys.

How Will You Use the Home Treadmill?

Are you training for a marathon, or do you like to casually walk? The difference can mean a couple of thousand dollars in cost.
  • Treadmill for Marathon or Half-Marathon Training: Individuals training for a marathon will need a treadmill that has a longer deck, powerful motor and in general is built for abuse. They may also want a variety of challenging programs to motivate and enhance their performance.
  • Treadmill for Exercise Walking: A person who occasionally walks can get by with a treadmill that is shorter in length, has an 18-inch wide belt, a medium size motor and an overall design that accommodates moderate use.

What are Your Short-Term and Long-Term Fitness Goals?

You may initially plan to only use your home treadmill to walk several times a week, but who knows where you may go from there. As you progress you could start walking or jogging 5 or 6 times a week. Will the model you plan to purchase now holed up under that constant strain? It's easier to spend a few hundred extra dollars now, then to have to get rid of your current model, and purchase a home treadmill that can withstand your future fitness goals.

What is the Weight and Height of the Treadmill User(s)?

When you run on a treadmill the impact is 2 1/2 times your body weight. The impact from walking is considerably less. Therefore individuals who weigh in over 200 lbs need to consider a treadmill that can withstand the additional impact. Most treadmill manufacturers overstate their weight limit by as much as 50-75 lbs.
  • Treadmills for Users Over 250 Pounds: If you are in the 250 lbs range you better find a model that claims to at least handle a 300 lbs user. Look for models that have a deck that is around and 1-inch thick. A ½-inch deck may break from users that are hefty.
  • Treadmills for Taller Users: Taller users need a home treadmill with a longer walking surface. If you are a walker and over 6-foot you would probably want a treadmill that has a minimum 52-inch walking surface. Running, you should have at least 54-inch If you are over 6'2" consider some of the stretch models that at in the 60-62" range. It should be noted some manufacturers rate the length of their treadmills by the deck. What is not factored in is the part of the deck that is covered by plastic shrouds. In reality the actual walking surface may be several inches shorter. You want to go by the actual walking surface for an exact length.

How Many People will use the Home Treadmill?

If more then one person is going to use the treadmill that means at least double the usage. Think about the abuse a treadmill must go through when it is used regularly. That is why cheap treadmill do not last, and that is why they are backed with short-term warranties. General guidelines:
  • Two Walkers: Spend at least $1,000.
  • Two Joggers: Spend at least $1,500.
  • Two Runners: Spend at least $2,000.
  • Multiple Profiles: You may also want to consider a model that stores user profiles for multiple users. You can call up your profile and any programs you have previously stored.

Treadmill Warranties Reflect Quality

One last suggestion, that is extremely important, is to purchase a treadmill that has a reasonable warranty. Warranties are a statement about the quality of the machine. A manufacturer could not back a treadmill with extensive warranties if it is poorly built and constructed with cheap component. They would go broke. I recommend you purchase a treadmill with a minimum 5 year motor warranty, 2 year parts warranty and is covered for one year of service.

About the Author: Fred Waters worked in the treadmill industry and reviews treadmills.

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