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What To Look For When Purchasing a Treadmill

Updated on May 26, 2013

Electric treadmills have always been among the favorite gizmos by exercise enthusiasts. Although electric treadmills usually carry higher price tags over manual treadmills, the features and multiple functionality that can be had make these types of treadmills worth buying. With many treadmill brands competing with each other in the market, looking for a treadmill to buy will have to involve careful selection. As a fundamental rule, always look beyond the appearance of the treadmill. No matter how good-looking or classy those treadmills are, their true value lies beneath their looks. That said, below are some useful tips that will help you out:

Treadmill Belt

The belt of an electric treadmill is the component that comes in constant contact with the user's jogging or running shoes. Moreover, it's also the surface in which the user must be comfortable jogging or running onto. As such, it's very important to carefully consider the belt's durability, length, and width.

A treadmill user's entire weight will be multiplied by the impact produced during the jogging or walking routine, and is considered a heavy load. Treadmill belts with at least 2-ply ratings or more should almost always be the safest choices.

The length of the belt should also be taken into consideration. For tall persons or users with longer legs, the locomotive range of the user's legs will require a longer belt platform to achieve a comfortable jogging or running rhythm. Treadmill belts with lengths of at least 4 feet would usually suffice for an average-height individual. For taller individuals, slightly longer treadmill belts such as 4.5 ft or longer would be the better options.

Every individual has his or her own unique way of swinging the arms and lower limbs during treadmill exercises. With this, the width of the electric treadmill belt should also be factored into the purchasing decision. As a general rule, the wider the belt, the better it would be.

Treadmill Motor

Electrical treadmill motors serve as the main powerhouse of the entire treadmill assembly, doing most of the work. As such, this motor should be something with good quality, reliability, and performance ratings, especially when used for prolonged periods. Basically, power ratings of treadmill motors are usually measured in HP or horsepower. For single users, treadmill motors with power ratings of 1HP will almost always be enough. Power ratings of more than 1HP, on the other hand, are best suited for multiple users and to those who usually tread for longer hours.

An Electric Treadmill On Display
An Electric Treadmill On Display

Basic Features And Safety Features

Treadmill features usually vary per brand and model. However, there are many unimportant features that only add to the overall price of the treadmill itself. Taking that into consideration, it is best to anchor one's preference only to the treadmill features that are essential for an effective and efficient treadmill exercise routine. Below are the basic features that will suffice for most treadmill users:

1. Incline Feature- This feature basically makes the treadmill platform be inclined at various angles to mimic an uphill jogging exercise.

2. Motor Speed Controls - Even though most of the latest treadmill models have this feature as standard, there are other models who don't. Treadmills with varying motor speed controls are ideal exercise platforms for brisk walking, jogging, and sprinting.

3. Visual Meters - The simplest form of a treadmill visual meter would only show the distance, time and speed. Practically, this would already be enough. Keep in mind that models with more visual meters tend to be more expensive.

4. Folding Features - Most electric treadmills are can be folded for easy storage, especially when not in use for longer periods. However, there are brands and models that do not have this feature.

5. Safety Features - Even though treadmill exercises are generally safe, accidents can still happen around treadmills. Essential safety features that should be incorporated into a treadmill design are the handrails, emergency stop button, child-proof switch, and the safety key. Here's why:

a. The Hand Rails - Sometimes when a user gets off-balanced for some reason, his or her reflex would be to grab onto something without thinking whether or not that something would be enough to hold his or her weight. As such, strong handrails within easy reach and non-slip grip handles should be a very essential safety feature.

b. Emergency stop button, child-proof switch, and safety key - The safety key is usually equipped with a lanyard attached to the user's wrist. Should the user happen to fall or lose balance, the safety key would then be dislodged from the treadmill switch and stop the machine instantly. Treadmill models with safety key features won't start if the key is not inserted into its slot.

The emergency stop button, a big button strategically positioned at the front control panel, is also a vital treadmill feature. It comes very useful when the user's legs and stamina can’t handle it anymore and the user already needs to stop the machine quickly. This scenario usually happens when the user keeps pushing himself or herself beyond the limits.

Lastly, child-proof switch is a safety feature that is very useful in households with kids. Should an unsupervised tot or toddler happen to start tinkering with the treadmill's control panel, he or she wouldn't get the machine powered up when the child-proof switch is active.

After-Sales Support And Service

An electric treadmill may carry a much higher price tag over a manual treadmill, hence, it should be considered as a serious investment. As such, one should take into consideration the warranty that goes with the sale of the unit. Longer warranty periods usually means that the manufacturer is pretty sure of the durability and overall quality of their product. However, you should also consider the reliability of the after sales-support of the treadmill. Common sense dictates that one should always buy treadmills from vendors with proven track records.

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