A home treadmill can be a great investment, giving you more options for exercise when you’re out of time, can’t get to the gym, or can’t get outside. Using a treadmill in a gym is one thing, but considering one for your home gym is another matter. A good treadmill is expensive and buying one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll use it on a regular basis.
Before you decide whether to but a treadmill, consider these factors:
- Budget: How much would you like to spend?
- Extras: Consider program options, heart rate monitors, and additional features.
- People: How many people will use it, and how often?
- Space: How much room do you have? Should you get a folding treadmill?
- Usage: How you will use it—running places more stress on the machine than walking and requires a longer belt for a longer stride.
Budget for a Home Treadmill
Your budget is probably the number one consideration in buying any piece of home fitness equipment, especially something as big and expensive as a treadmill. It’s important to get the highest quality treadmill you can afford. A quality treadmill will be comfortable, quiet, easy to use, and will last a long time.
If you want a treadmill that will last, you’ll likely spend at least $1,000, although spending between $1,500 and $3,000 will offer more stability, better motors, and more workout options. If you have two or more users in your household, it is wise to look at models costing at least $1,500.
There are some so-so models that fall under $1,000, but keep in mind those may not last as long, especially for runners or if you have several people using the treadmill.
If you have a limited budget, consider buying a lightly-used or refurbished treadmill. You can often find these for sale by previous owners as well as at some stores that sell used fitness equipment.
Treadmill Motor Horsepower
The horsepower delivered by the drive motor directly affects the quality of your treadmill and how your workouts will feel. Figuring out horsepower and motor specifications can be confusing.
To make it easy, look for a motor with at least 1.5 continuous-duty horsepower (CHP). If you plan on running on the treadmill frequently, you’ll be better off choosing 2.5 to 3.0 CHP. You will also need a more powerful motor depending on your weight.
Other things to look for include:
- Belt size: For running, the belt should be at least 48 inches long and 18 inches wide. If you are over 6 feet tall, you would need at least a 52-inch belt for walking and a 54-inch belt for running.
- Control panel: It should be within reach and simple to use.
- Cushioning: The running bed should absorb shock and the belt shouldn’t move around with every foot-strike.
- Incline: Get a treadmill with an incline that goes up to 10 percent or higher. If the treadmill has a decline feature, that is also valuable to give a better simulation of outdoor running conditions.
- Maximum weight rating: This is a consideration if you are a larger person, and it is also an indication of the sturdiness of the treadmill. Look at the maximum user weight rating (which is optimistic) and subtract about 50 pounds for a realistic figure.
- Speed: If you plan on running, get a treadmill that goes up to 10 mph or higher.
- Stability: The treadmill shouldn’t shake when you run or walk on it and the frame should remain stable
Space and Folding Treadmills
A treadmill looks a lot smaller in the store than it will in your home, so be sure to measure your space before buying. A folding treadmill may seem like a good option, but it will still take up space when folded.
Other considerations are that some models are much easier to fold, unfold, and move. You may have to tilt a heavy treadmill back on its wheels to move it, which can be a challenge. Test this in the store so you know it will work in your exercise space.
Before you buy a treadmill, think about the kinds of things you want. Before you go shopping, ask yourself a few questions such as:
- Can you maintain a treadmill?
- Do you want running or walking programs included?
- Do you want a heart rate monitor included?
- Do you want the ability to link your treadmill to apps or websites such as ifit.com for new workouts?
- Do you want both incline and decline to simulate both uphill and downhill?
- Do you need a treadmill that folds or do you have enough space for a regular treadmill?
- What’s the most important feature you want in a treadmill?
You may not be able to find all your treadmill choices at local sporting goods stores, but it pays to do some research and try as many treadmills as possible. Make a list of treadmills you’re interested in and call local sporting goods stores to see if they’re available locally.
Spend at least 10 minutes on each treadmill. Make sure it’s quiet and that it doesn’t shake, even when running. While you’re there, see where the drink holder is. Is there a place to put your music player or cell phone? Can you add a book rack?
Treadmill Warranty, Delivery, and Set-up
The manufacturer’s warranty will often give you significant clues as to the quality of the treadmill. Look for a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, or a minimum of 10 years. Electronics should have a 5-year warranty. Parts and labor should have a 2-year warranty.
How will you get the treadmill into your home? Delivery costs can be significant if they are not included in the purchase price. Also, consider how you are going to move the treadmill from your doorstep to your designated workout area and whether that is included or will cost extra. New treadmills usually require some assembly and you should see if that is included or requires a separate fee.
Using Your Treadmill
Once you get your treadmill home, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out the different programs and get into a routine. Treadmill workouts get pretty boring if you do the same thing all the time. Be sure to take the time to explore all of the variations so your new treadmill doesn’t linger in the corner becoming a clothes rack.