The Treadmill Checklist: A Must for Any Soon-to-Be Treadmill Owner
By J. Maki
The treadmill is the ultimate tool to get in a great workout, whether running or walking. But have you ever thought about the different components that come together to make the machine that provides so many benefits to you? In this article, I provide you with an overview and explanations of the critical components of a treadmill and what you should be evaluating as you set out to find the treadmill that is best for you.
Running Belt/Running Surface
The running belt or surface is the space you have for walking and/or running. The width and length of the belt is an important factor to consider as you explore treadmills, especially in relation to your height. The taller you are, the longer belt you should be seeking. The width of the belt is an important factor when considering the type of exercise you typically do. If you are a walker, a narrower belt is fine; whereas if you are a runner, a wider belt is a necessity. It is important to keep in mind, however, that as you increase the size of the belt/surface, the larger the machine, and the bigger the cost of the unit.
The motor of the treadmill is important because it is what powers your unit, and based on your fitness goals, certain types of motors lend themselves better to certain types of exercise. The motors of treadmills are measured by horsepower, and the higher the horsepower, the better suited the model for higher intensity exercise. For instance, if your primary mode of exercise is walking, a smaller horsepower would be acceptable, whereas that same motor would not be sufficient for a runner. Again, the larger the horsepower of the motor, the bigger the impact on the cost of the treadmill.
You would think that every treadmill has the capability to adjust its incline to increase the intensity of a workout. This is inaccurate, as incline adjustment is not a universal feature. Additionally, not every treadmill that has the capability to change the incline is created the same. Some have multiple incline levels that can be accessed, while some have only a few. Also, on some machines, the incline has to be adjusted manually, while on others, it can be done automatically through the unit’s control panel. If adjusting the incline is important to you, carefully consider this feature (or lack thereof) when making your investment.
The speed capability of a treadmill refers to its minimum and maximum speed. Most treadmills bottom out at .5 mph, while the maximum varies based on the type of treadmill you purchase. Again, this is where you personal goals related to fitness become extremely important because if you are only seeking to implement a walking routine on your treadmill, purchasing a model with a maximum speed of 12 mph would be unnecessary. This is why being very clear about your exercise goals before making your investment is critical to making the right investment.
The majority of treadmills have some type of display, though some do not, that indicate specific information to the user regarding their workout. These metrics range from speed, time, pace, distance, calories burned, incline, heart rate, etc. Some units require you to manually shift through these metrics to find the one you are looking for, while other provide all of this information on screen all at once. It is important when researching your treadmill to understand how the unit will deliver this information to you and how you can access it. Based on what your needs are and on what you desire to track related to your goals, you should select the unit that best meets these needs.
Weight Capacity of Unit for User
In investigating treadmills, you must also look closely at what the user weight capacity is so that it can effectively support the user. This information is readily available on the treadmill companies websites, and you can also find it in the reviews we provide at The Trusted Treadmill. You cannot make assumptions that all treadmills can support any and all users, so it is important for you to know this information when making your investment.
I talked about the importance of assessing one’s available space in our how-to guide, and where you can best determine this information is in a) the dimensions of the unit, b) the weight of the unit, and c) the portability of the unit. You can easily find the dimensions of any treadmill related to its length, width, and height. With this information, you can determine whether or not you have the appropriate space to accommodate the unit. You should also be aware of the weight of the unit as well in terms of where you will store it. Treadmills are heavy pieces of machinery can weigh upwards of 500 pounds, so you need to be certain that whatever surface will support your treadmill can handle that type of weight (also, make sure you get a treadmill mat to protect your floor!). Finally, when investigating a treadmill, if space is at a premium for you, you should identify whether or not it has the capability to fold and/or if it has wheels and can be easily moved around. Many treadmills have this capability, and if you have space issues, this can be super helpful to you.
Many treadmills today are equipped with the capability to connect with smart devices so that you can listen to music, Podcasts, watch shows, movies, read, etc. You can also access on-demand and live workouts that can be motivating and can increase your accountability. On the other hand, there are treadmills that are very basic in terms of technology with nothing more than an old school audio jack and LED screen displaying your workout statistics. It all depends what you are looking for and desire in your unit. If you want the ability to be connected, there are a multitude of options for you, but you just have to do your homework.
A treadmill is a lifesaver when it comes to your joints and the impact that it saves you from when you walking or running. This is one of the elements of a treadmill that makes it attractive over running outdoors on hard surfaces. With that said, understanding the shock absorption mechanisms of the unit you are researching is important. The thickness of the running belt, the material of the running deck, and the method of how your unit absorbs shock are all things you should understand to help you make your decision.
There are many other parts of any treadmill you select, but these are the primary areas you should focus on. If you have any other questions, drop me a line at email@example.com, and I will follow up.