Treadmills provide an excellent, convenient and weatherproof workout. Before purchasing one for your home, it is important to consider a few details. To make your decision, take into consideration the amount of space you have available for the treadmill, brand preferences, your own fitness intentions and goals, and your budget. Get familiar with the types of treadmills on the market as well as any special design features you would like to have built-in.
There are two main types of treadmills on the market: manual ones and motorized ones. Manual treadmills work by the user's feet moving the belt. When you start walking or running, the belt begins to move; when you stop moving, the belt stops. Motorized treadmills function by the user setting an automated pace for the belt; users can increase or decrease the speed of the belt as they please. Manual treadmills are arguably safer than motorized ones due to the manual stopping mechanism, but they are more difficult to run on than a motorized one.
First and foremost, assess your stride: If you have very long legs or you plan to be mostly running on your treadmill, consider a treadmill with a longer deck. If you are planning to mostly walk on your treadmill, a shorter deck is adequate. A great way to test if the deck is long enough for you is to hop on the treadmill models you are considering for purchase in the store.
Manual treadmills do not have a motor and are therefore cheaper to buy: they can range anywhere from $200 to $600. Also due to not having a motor, manual treadmills typically tend to be easier to move. Motorized treadmills, because they are heavier and more intricate, can cost anywhere from $800 to $8,000. Most of these machines can weigh up to 300 pounds, so it is often necessary to have them professionally delivered and installed -- an added expense.
Motorized treadmills offer more variety in features than manual ones, typically providing a more exciting workout -- choose a motorized treadmill for the best value for your dollar. According to the 2012 Consumer Reports, three of the top-rated motorized treadmills are the $4,000 Precor 9.31 for its built-in suspension system which cushions the user's joints as she runs, the $4,000 Landice L7 Cardio Trainer for its rust-free aluminum frame and $2,000 Sole Fitness S77, with an extra-wide running surface to accommodate most runners.
Ashlee Green is a writer based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "YES! Magazine," "Lalitamba Literary Journal" and "The Hamakua Times." She has a Bachelor of Arts in creative nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh.