Today we’re going to talk about buying a treadmill. So when we start talking about treadmills, the important thing to think about, and the most important takeaway is, that not all treadmills are created equal.
That’s a really important consideration because at first glance when you look at them, many of them look like each other. I mean, they really do resemble one another however deep down when you look at the nitty-gritty, they’re very, very different.
First and foremost, how many users are there who are those specific users who know their ages, their exact builds, their body weights, their physical conditioning and any limitations that they may have? Do they have orthopedic issues, you know old injuries – all of those considerations are really important for me to help fine-tune what the recommendations will be for the family.
When you’re thinking about buying a treadmill, you really need to select a treadmill based upon what the worst-case scenario is for that household. For instance, if there are multiple family members I’m going to often make that suggestion to the family that they shop for the treadmill based upon who the heaviest weight user or is who the biggest user is, because if we can build a machine around that user then everyone else that requires less than that will certainly be accommodated.
When you’re thinking about buying a treadmill, first and foremost let’s start with some of the factors we’re going to think about. I talked about the height of the user. Why is that important? It’s really important because we don’t want that tall user to feel like he or she is being constrained by the physical limitations of the machine itself and that really speaks to the belt length. Belt lengths come in really small like a 54 inch long version and that’s designed to intentionally be small to fit the treadmill into small spaces, however that small treadmill might not be appropriate for the really tall individual.
Then we have models that are 57 inches long in terms of the belt spacer, then 60 inches long which happens to be the health club standard. If you wanted to get that health club feel in your home, treadmill more times than not you’re going to consider getting a model with a 16 inch long tread belt. Next, what’s the size of the user? Okay they’re built shoulder width hip width, a lot of times that speaks to how wide the belt needs to be to make that user feel really comfortable on the treadmill.
There are treadmill models that are as narrow as 20 inches and 20 inches at first glance might sound a little small but keep in mind some of our light industrial model treadmills are made for health club settings or light light commercial settings, where 20 inches will certainly accommodate the active membership belt that’ll be using it in that facility. Standard home models also have 21 and 22 inch versions available so a lot of times based upon the client’s comfort walking on the treadmill will determine which belt is best for them, based upon their build and many times while I’m watching them walk on the treadmill in the store.
When they’re doing their test runs with me. I’m looking down at their feet as they’re walking on making sure that they’re able to keep the centerline if I find that you know the less experienced users might start to drift a little or they have issues with a lopsided gate or some orthopedic problems, then maybe belt width becomes even more important in their consideration for buying a treadmill. So we’ll go for a wider model in cases like that.
Next we’re going to talk about the body weight of the user. This is important for a couple reasons. One is you need to have machines that are built to withstand not only the static weight of that user but the weight of that body in motion. Once you add acceleration to the equation, the landing force on the treadmill is much greater than the static weight of the user. It really becomes important these machines are built solid-state but they’re built within specifications and they’re trying to target certain price points so you’ll often find that at the lower price points the machines are suspect with component parts that are just a little less than what they need to be to deal with the heaviest weight users.
If I got family members that are at the greater body weights either due to builds or just you know obesity issues, that they’re trying to combat then we will have models that are definitely designed to meet their needs. One of the important considerations when choosing your treadmill for your home is going to be what space you have available to fit it. Now what I often ask is that when a client is selecting the machine for the home I like to know where media may be positioned in the room.
If there’s wall based media that’s an important consideration to note when buying a treadmill because we can get a treadmill that doesn’t come equipped with that if it’s going to be media built into the machine. I’ll need to know that as well because then we’ll look at models that have to keep ability to kind of keep them motivated while they’re working out. We have those models that come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. The size of the treadmill will be an important consideration because sometimes the room is so small that we can only consider small treadmills to fit the space, in which case we have models that are small but that still allow you to do the work that you need to do.
When someone is looking at buying a treadmill, one of the key questions that I’ll ask is how their body feels. Are there anything that ails her; you know, knees, hips lower back; these kind of weak links that they need to address and if that’s the case, one of the important considerations they’ll need to take note of is the shock absorption of a treadmill.
A long time ago, treadmills were designed where the wooden deck of the treadmill was physically bolted to the framework. That sub structural skeleton of the treadmill and by doing that it actually made for a very rigid feeling design and when treadmill users would run on that were on their machines they would find at the end of the workout there there are any goes their knees or hips even there all the way up to the back, that vibration will radiate up their body and they would really suffer from that.
Sometimes they would get a little achy and if you did that long enough, some overuse injuries could develop. Low compartment syndrome things like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, splinting – things like that. So manufacturers really set out to address that and to make their machines more comfortable so that you can stay on them longer.
In 2020, we really only choose treadmill models now that have exceptional shock absorption, how they do it is different. This does impact some features on these machines, and each brand kind of counts theirs as being the best. I’ve got some personal considerations that you may want to know about when you’re buying a treadmill for yourself, but just rest assured if you’re if you’re actually sourced or shopping for a treadmill you’re only going to walk away with a comfortable shock-absorbing treadmill.
There are ones with an orthopaedic belt, most standard tread belts are very thin; they’re designed to dissipate heat rapidly to perform really well and to last a long time. Other models are designed with an extra layer of cushioning, so they’re thicker and they’re softer and more pliable, so that even if your sneakers are starting to age over time and the foam and the sneaker is starting to kind of pack in, and your shoe needs more care, then you’re going to be rest assured that the belt itself is also providing that additional layer of cushioning.
There are also various treadmill models that have the ability to dictate how firm or soft the treadmill is and that may be an important consideration, especially if someone is preparing their body for more competitive exercise, like a half or full marathon. Let’s say I were that athlete training for an event that was going to be about a year down the road. What I might do is in the offseason as I’m starting to prepare for that event, first month or two I might have it set really soft allowing my body to slowly adapt to the fact that I’m exposing it to regular impacting.
Then, as the months pass on, I might slowly stiffen it up so that as I inched closer toward the race that I was planning on running I would have adapted my body to this to the rigors of running on pavement without having to suffer a years-long worth of that use. This will help you save your your joints and the soft tissues, you know the typical overuse injuries that could develop when you’re running on pavement year-round.
Another key component with regard to buying a treadmill is horsepower motor size. What’s important to note is that treadmill motor sizes are really important when it comes to the application of the treadmill to the type of workout that you need to do. If you’re basically walking moderately just to kind of maintain your health, then you are going from a sedentary lifestyle to one of fitness and they’re going to use brisk walking as the way to do that.
Models with smaller horsepower ratings could actually accommodate a user like that really well. However, when you get into the more rigorous applications, for example people who are running intensely and for long periods of time, then horsepower rating becomes more paramount. This is because the machines will have a tendency to overheat if they’re rated at a very low level and they’re being used at a very high intensity.
There are some other additional features that treadmills have, that are important for running and walking families and that speaks to speed and incline. One of the things that’s important to know is that some clients who are avid runners might find themselves often doing speed based workouts and not much with elevation. Other people may be because of limitations with their body and how it’s working any given you know age that they may be at or are due to old injuries they might not be able to move as briskly, but they still want to get the type of heart rate and breathing rates that they would have they been running.
This is where incline factors in. We might be able to slow down their rate and add some incline and still achieve the same type of output that they would have had they been running. Once again, with regard to speed and incline there are a couple of considerations. Some people will do the fast workout exposing their bodies to a little bit more of the impacting, which is not a bad thing, however I want to let you know that we have controlled impact. This is good for the body and so far as maintaining bone mass so you want to make sure that you’re doing some form of impacting in your life.
Those who are just buying a treadmill and working out for the very first time, they’ll have comfort knowing that there are side rails at their side to make them feel secure. As they evolve and get more fit, they can drop their hands from the handles and swing them at their sides, working on the proprioception and their body sense of position on the treadmill. The balance that’s improved in their body as they do that, really kind of hones some of the deeper, more intrinsic muscle groups that get neglected when you’re anchoring onto the handlebars.
If your goal is to get something that’s simplistic, keep in mind when buying a treadmill that even the most advanced treadmills can operate very simplistically to meet your needs. The idea is that your needs now may change over time and as you embark on this new fitness programming you’ll probably find that as you get more fit you get more into exercise and then your needs become more demanding.
When you’re thinking about buying a treadmill, you you will often find that the price point that you pay for a treadmill often dictates the type of quality that you’ve bought. Remember to do your research, reading articles like this one, and ask lots of questions. All the best in buying a treadmill that works best for your needs.