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Before You Buy a Home Treadmill

Things to consider when purchasing a treadmill

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Updated October 03, 2003

There are a number a good treadmills available for home use. Although you will likely spend between $1500 and $3000 dollars for a quality motorized treadmill, if you choose wisely, your investment will last a very long time. Picking a treadmill is easier if you follow a few basic guidelines.

The most important thing is to try it out first. It is not recommended that you buy a treadmill sight unseen or without actually testing it out the way you intend to use it at home. Here are some questions you should ask when making your treadmill purchase decision:

  • Is the machine stable and is the belt at least 18 to 20 inches wide and 48 inches long? Narrow, short running belts are not recommended due to tripping or falling hazards.
  • Does it have an emergency shut-off?
  • Does it have side rails or safety bars that are reachable, sturdy, and out of the way of swinging arms?
  • Is the manufacturer reliable and reputable? (Trotter, Star Trac, Landice, True and Precor brands are a good choice for home use).
  • Is there a warranty? What does the warranty cover and for how long?
  • What is the expected maintenance and service?
  • Is the motor at least 2.5 to 3.0 h.p. ?
  • Does the treadmill require 110 or 220v power?
  • Is the speed range adequate for your intended use? (0.1 to 8 mph is recommended for walking and running).
  • Is the stop smooth rather than sudden?
  • Can the motor maintain a steady speed regardless of treadmill elevation and weight of user?
  • Does it have an incline range of 0 percent to at least 10 percent?
  • Is the control panel accessible and easy to read?
  • Is it too noisy for your preference?
  • Will it fit comfortably in the space you plan to keep it in? (consider how tall it will be with you on it)

For more about finding the right treadmill for $1500 to $3000 you can check out the review by About.com's Walking guide. If you are satisfied with your selection, next you will want to learn how to use it correctly once you get home. The following tips will help you get comfortable with your new purchase.

First, read all the directions that came with the treadmill. Set up your treadmill away from walls to avoid injury due to falls. Be sure that the back of the treadmill has at least six feet of clearance from a ledge, wall or window. The power cord should be out of the way of foot traffic to avoid tripping or getting stepped on. Before you get on the treadmill, check out all the controls. Speed it up, slow it down, increase and decrease the incline and test the emergency off button. Until you are comfortable on the treadmill, use the hand grips for balance and start with walking only. Test the emergency shut-off a few times so you are familiar with it should you need to use it.

Pay attention to your posture and avoid leaning on the bars. Look forward, not down at your feet. Relax and maintain the a normal stride. Don’t take baby steps. Also try to stay centered in the middle of the belt. Avoid drifting sideways or falling too far back on the belt. Within a few sessions you will find the sensation of walking without going anywhere quite comfortable. And keep in mind that just like any other new skill, you need to develop a routine in order to make it a habit. You can set up a specific time of day, set a specific number of minutes to make it part of your day and soon it will be a comfortable habit.

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