Five Features to Look for in a Quality Treadmill

by norman glendale on Jun 20, 2010

The time has come that you are determined to get moving. You know it's good for your physical, mental and emotional health. And what better way to get moving than to get on a treadmill? You can walk for miles without ever leaving home. Most fitness experts agree that the simple act of walking is one of the best exercises you can do. It takes relatively little space or equipment ”“ and you can often find ways to entertain yourself while on the treadmill, which will help keep you motivated. Make your time on the treadmill the time you catch up on a favorite television show or listen to your MP3 player while working out. When it comes to choosing the treadmill that is right for you, there are five features you should consider. Motorized or Manual? There is nothing to plug in with a manual treadmill. It is simply a belt that rotates as you walk. Your feet are the only thing powering these models. The benefit of manual models is they generally take up less space, they can often be folded and put away and they are far less expensive than their motorized counterparts. Many manual models are available for less than $200. But just because you are shutting off the electricity, does not mean manual models lack features. Some come with computer displays that tell you the speed you've achieved, how long you've been at it, how far you've gone and how many calories you've burned. One word of caution: some manual treadmills have far lower weight allowances than heavier models. Be sure you check. Space-Saving Folding Treadmills versus Fixed-Frame The amount of space you have to devote to your exercise space will help you decide on this feature. If you've got a finished basement, or better yet an exercise room where you can leave your treadmill up between workouts, then by all means consider a fixed-frame treadmill. You are more likely to use the treadmill regularly if you leave it out. If however, space is an issue, then most manufacturers make models that can be folded and tucked into a corner of the room after use. Some even have wheels on the end of the frame to make the task easier. But be realistic ”“ the sturdier treadmills are not lightweight. If you have a bad back, the exertion of folding and putting away a treadmill might not be worth it. Some manufacturers have added safety features to folding models, such as dual, two-stage shocks that help you lower the deck slowly. The Game Plan Are you using your treadmill to prepare for a marathon, or are you just trying to get your pulse rate up, as the doctor suggested? Your answer will tell you which model of treadmill you should pursue. If you simply want to get some exercise, you do not need the bells and whistles offered by the often more-expensive models. What you need is a solid machine that will measure your pulse rate and tell you how far you've traveled. And, assuming you keep at it, you should have a machine that can vary the elevation. If, however, you want to use your treadmill as part of a serious exercise regimen, then consider some of the features treadmills offer. For example, some models come programmed with eight-week exercise plans. The machine will vary your workout to help you increase mobility, maintain your weight and improve your health. It does this by varying the incline and speed of your workout. Some even have audible “coaches” to steer you into a more effective workout. You also want to consider who will be using the machine. If it's just you, then the treadmill will not get the same workout it would get if it's used by a family of five. If the machine will be used by multiple runners, then look for a sturdier fixed-frame treadmill, perhaps even a commercial-grade machine. And also keep the weight of the heaviest user in mind. A commercial-grade machine can accommodate a runner up to 500 pounds, whereas some cut off at far lower weights. Display Features There is almost no end of displays offered by treadmills. At its simplest, the under-$200 models provide a computerized display tells you speed, time, distance, total distance and calories burned. The $2,000-plus models offer LED multi-windows that display speed, distance, time, calories, incline and pulse. It also has built-in manual, preset and custom programs to vary your workout and a heart rate bar that lets you monitor your heart rate. Other models offer iFit Live technology that has a wire connection between the Internet and the treadmill. Just for Fun Treadmill manufacturers recognize that you will be more likely to use the treadmill if you have some run while using it. As a result, they offer some fun features like a flat-screen television built into the display, a port for your iPod and other sound systems to let you work out to music.

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Source: Norman Glendale is a freelance writer who writes about products used in health and fitness such as treadmills.
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