FAQ Answers

What is the difference between a manual and electric treadmill?

There are two main types of treadmills: Motorized and Manual. The belt on a motorized, or power treadmill is powered by an electric motor while with a manual treadmill the runner powers the belt with their footsteps. Generally, non-motorized treadmills are much cheaper. You are advised to purchase a motor driven treadmill if possible, unless you are on a very tight budget. To get the full benefit of your workout, motorized treadmills can be set to a constant speed. You can also use the speed and timing settings to calculate calorie loss, etc. Manual treadmills (without motors), speed up and slow down according to the pace set by the runner, meaning it is difficult to receive a steady workout. Non-motorized treadmills also put a great amount of strain on the on the knees and hip joints. If you are serious about your fitness and want to avoid unnecessary knee and joint injury, then a motorized treadmill is the way to go.

How much space does my home treadmill machine require?

Fitness equipment like treadmills can take up quite a bit of space in a room. The average size of a treadmill is around 3' wide by 7' long so expect to devote a large portion of your room to it. However, if you are lacking in space, perhaps consider a collapsible treadmill instead. These space saving treadmills are designed to be folded up and stored away easily. They usually come on runners for easy maneuvering purposes. Generally, folding treadmills can be bought at a much cheaper price, however, you want to ensure you are not losing out on quality.

What motor speed and horsepower do I need in a treadmill?

Bear in mind when selecting a treadmill that runners and obese users will put a heavier load on the machine. Be sure the motor has at least 1.75-2 horsepower and ensure this is a "continuous duty" and not a "peak duty" motor measurement. Continuous duty refers to the motor performance depending on the load capacity whereas peak duty applies only to the motor performance without strain, no load. This measurement is very important as it can be the difference between a high end treadmill and a mediocre one. It is also important to take the noise level into consideration. Stay away from AC motors (typically used in commercial treadmills), which are much noisier than the DC motor used in home machines.

What sort of treadmill frame and sturdiness should I look for?

When looking at frames, opt for a welded steel frame with a rust-resitant coating. Try to avoid bolted frames and those made with less durable materials. Stay away from running machines that do not offer a lifetime guarantee on the frame, as this is often a good indication of the quality.

Is it a good idea to buy a treadmill with a slope inclination?

The percentage of the slope inclination and and how it can be adjusted is an important factor to consider when buying a treadmill. The inclination of the treadmill deck plays an essential part in the burning of calories and the length of endurance. There are three main types; manual adjustment, button or console controlled or automatic. Manual adjustment is at the bottom end of the scale, do to the fact you have to manually adjust the inclination, requiring you to stop your exercise to do so. Button or console controlled means you can change the slope gradient at the touch of a button without interrupting your routine. The automatic adjustment is the best option which often comes in conjunction with a heart rate monitor or programmable fitness routines.

What about treadmills that come with programmable options?

Programmable options are a major factor in the varying price range of treadmills. Some running machines come with an abundance array of programs and special features. Buy only what you will use! Having a programmable treadmill with over 1500 different programs when you only use 5 is a big waste. Then again, if you enjoy the idea of downloading fitness programs from the internet to your treadmill, then having an in-built MP3 player or other special features might be right for you.

Should I buy a cheap treadmill or a more expensive model?

Unfortunately, in most cases, the more expensive the treadmill, the better the quality. If you're on a tight budget, opt out for things such as heart monitors, multi-programmable interfaces etc. but try not to hold back on the build quality. The cheapest treadmills on the market are those with a manual belt drive, (not recommended if you are a serious about your fitness). Some motorized running machines can be purchased for as little as $400 but, you get what you pay for. The cheaper models tend to be of poorer quality, with weaker motors, poor build quality and shorter life span. There's no need to pay $3,000 for a commercial quality treadmill but do expect to pay around $600-$1200 for a good quality treadmill.

Are there different treadmills for walkers than runners?

When looking for a treadmill suitable for running, then you need to opt for an elongated running deck, preferably 7 or more feet and a deck of 3 feet or wider for safety reasons. Anything less may be uncomfortable and restrict your exercise routine. Treadmills suited for runners should have top speeds of at least 8-12 miles per hour and those for walking can have a shorter deck and lower top speeds of around 5 mph.

How do I know which treadmill is right for me?

People with muscle or joint problems or obese users are advised to opt for a more cushioned running surface. Treadmills with a harder surface may be used but cushioned decks are highly recommended. Before purchasing a treadmill, consider who else is likely to use it. Don't get caught buying a treadmill suitable for walking when someone else in your household intends to use it for running.

How thick should the tread belt and deck cushioning be?

Tread belts come in one-ply and two-ply options. One-ply tread belts are basically the cheapest option, needing replacement over time whereas two-ply tread belts are thicker and last much longer. Some tread belts come with cushioning and impact absorption which is highly recommended for your joints and comfort level.

Is it important to buy a treadmill equipped with a heart monitor?

Treadmills offer ideal cardiovascular workout routines. Some come with strap-on heart monitors which can be programmed to keep your heart rate at a specific level by adjusting the speed, intensity and incline of your workout.

Are commercial treadmills better than treadmills for home use?

There is not a lot of benefit gained from spending an extra $1000+ for a gym treadmill. Running machines designed for the home often come with more programs, more control panel options and a quieter motor. Commercial treadmills are built to stand the rigorous pounding of runners 24/7 which often means a loud AC motor that will sounds like a jet in a smaller contained space. Unless you intend to spend 12 hrs a day running on your treadmill, a good quality household running machine will do just fine, lasting approximately 7-12 years.


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