Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing a Treadmill

So you’ve decided to take that final step towards physical fitness and want to purchase a treadmill. Then instead of going to the gym every day you can exercise in the safety and security of your own home. But what should you look for and what should you avoid?

First, consider exactly how much money you want to spend on this piece of home equipment. One possible way of establishing a budget is to consider what you would pay for a gym membership over a single year, divided by how much time you spend at the gym on a treadmill. Remember, you use a lot of different machines at the gym, so take only a percentage of what you realistically use the treadmill for and establish a bottom line financially. It’s easy to get enthusiastic over a flashy treadmill, with computerized results and multiple choices for speed, but if you blow your budget you may end up spending more time running from your debtors than on the treadmill.

A major consideration to take into account is the simple idea of having an electric treadmill vs a manual one. The track on an electric treadmill runs whether you’re standing on it or not, the speed determined by a computer program that you will access when you turn the machine on. A manual treadmill is exactly what it sounds like – no computer deciding how fast the track moves. Usually the track is set up on a slight ramp of approximately forty-five degrees so that as you begin to walk the rubber track slides around the machine with little effort, but when you stop it stops. You may find this to be a major factor in determining your budget and pricing the models. Sure, a manual may seem rather low-tech, but having a treadmill that doesn’t draw power can be an advantage if your area has a history of power outages.

Electronics have become all the rage when dealing with fitness machines – you can keep track of your distance, your speed, the time lapsed, your blood pressure… you name it and there’s probably a machine set up to monitor it in one way or another. But all these extras cost money, and if you’re on a tight budget you may want to consider tossing away all these frills and going with a very basic model. Most generic treadmills come with a single small computer screen that will deliver the basics: Speed, Distance Travelled, Time Elapsed and Calories Spent. Depending on how much information you feel you need for your fitness routine, you may wish to pick and choose your models based on what options are offered.

Next, start your shopping – but do it online if at all possible. Once you step foot inside a store the salespeople will be determined to sell you a fitness machine and you need to be prepared with all the facts. If you don’t have a home computer then find one, maybe at a friend’s or at the public library. Evaluate all the different models by size, type and then go to your best resource – your friends. If your friends don’t have treadmills, then consult with your local gym. While they may not want to lose your membership, they may have some helpful hints on what models are better than others for delivering a healthy workout.

Armed with all your information sheets, you can now walk into any major department store or fitness outlet and begin to shop with confidence. It’s going to be hard, but don’t let the salespeople talk you out of your budget or sell you on options that you may never use. You may like the Speed-O-Matic 5000 with an automatic blood pressure cuff accessory and special headphones to listen to the stereo mounted on the side, but is it really what you want? Do you need your pulse monitored while the track simulates hills and valleys?

You may say yes to some of these options; you may say no. That’s your choice as a consumer and one you should be prepared to make based on your personal needs and fitness goals. But whatever decisions you make, be an aware and informed customer!

The last and possibly most important factor in purchasing a treadmill is delivery and assembly. That budget treadmill you bought for a song and a dance because it was going out of production may have been a great deal, but what if it ends up in a thousand parts on your floor with you poring over pages of instructions in a foreign language?

First, delivery and construction. Most stores will arrange delivery for a small fee and assembly as an option. If you have the ability and the confidence to bring it home on your own, then do so and save yourself the pocket cash. But be aware that the more complicated the treadmill, the more complicated the construction can be. And if you’re the type of person who gets frustrated with a child’s bicycle on Christmas Eve, you may want to consider paying someone to put your new treadmill together.

Also, where you build your treadmill may be the first and last place you may ever place it, so be careful. While it may seem instinctive to place it in the living room so you can walk along while watching your favorite soap opera, you may not be prepared to have it in full view while entertaining family or friends. Some smaller treadmills come with the ability to “fold up” and be moved around, but this comes at the expense of possible structural damage if the treadmill is moved too often, rattling the screws and perhaps disrupting the track flow. Please make sure that your treadmill is where you want it to be for a good, long time.

Purchasing a treadmill can be a great investment in your health and in the future, but a little preparedness goes a long way. By doing your research and knowing exactly what you want and what you don’t want, you can walk into that store and walk out with what you need, not what you’ve been talked into. And in the end you’ll be healthier both in body and in the pocketbook!

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