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How Much Should You Spend on a Treadmill!

December 28th 2005

How Much Should You Spend on a Treadmill!


This time of year treadmill sales soar for primarily two reasons:

  1. People commit to a New Years resolution to get back into shape.
  2. Fanatic runners are faced with sucky winter weather and have to move their workouts outdoors.

But buying a treadmill can be complex and confusing. Like cars, there are countless models, and the question is, do you buy the equivalent of a Yugo or a Mercedes.

There are two important factors to consider when you compare treadmills:

  • Match your budget with your fitness level
  • Your weight and height
  • Desired Treadmill Features
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What Should You Budget

Like most items you purchase, the model you prefer will probably cost more than you imagined. If you go to a mass retailer like Walmart or Costco you will notice a number of treadmills in the $200-$500. Some are not even motorized. These are what I consider throw away treadmills. The come with a short-lived 90 day warranty. That's because most of them will not function more than 90 days.

If you want a treadmill that will last for the duration, and provide you with a challenging workout, this is my recommendations. For walking you want to spend a minimum of approximately $1,000. This will buy you a solid and stable model that will come with a one year service warranty, a minimum 2 years parts and 10 year motor warranty.

If you are a jogger or runner then I recommend you start at the $1,500 range. A model at this price will include a 20" wide belt, a minimum 2.5 continuous duty horsepower motor and is overall built with quality components.

For serious runners start at the $2,000 range. You will get a treadmill that has a longer deck for sprinting and interval training. The motor is powerful enough to handle continual use at a high level. The deck and the belt are designed for constant pounding. Models over $2,000 generally have a generous warranty.

Your Weight and Height

Both the weight and height of a treadmill user should determine the model you are considering. For example, heavier users will require a more powerful motor and a reasonably thick deck. I worked for a company that compromised on the thickness of the decks on their low-end models and guess what? Some cracked. The deck should be a minimum of ¾".

The perfect motor for a treadmill is one that does not strain. It should work effortlessly, otherwise it will eventually burn out and generally be noisy. And you do not want to replace a motor, especially after the service warranty has run out.

When comparing treadmill motors you want to go by the horsepower of the continuous duty, not peak horsepower. Peak horsepower is the maximum horsepower a treadmill can reach. Continuous-duty horsepower is a measure of sustained power during regular use. The continuous motor power is what is consistently delivered during heavy usage over an extended period of time.

Since peak horsepower is usually significantly higher than a motor's continuous capability, continuous horsepower better helps you determine which treadmill will accommodate your intended exercise use. Generally speaking, the larger the motor the more powerful it can operate at a continuous rate.


Below is our recommendation for treadmill motors. If you are extremely overweight you should consider adding another .5 horsepower per category.

  • Walking 2.0 continuous duty HP +
  • Jogging 2.5 continuous duty HP +
  • Running 3.0 continuous duty HP +

Your height is another important factor. You'll find budget treadmills built with very short walking/running surfaces. If you are tall you will literally be running off the end.

For average size walkers we suggest a treadmill with a minimum 50" long surface, if you are over 6'3", you my want to consider 56" surface. For tall runners you want to consider models that have 58" long running surfaces. Nothing is more discomforting then when you feel you are running off the end of a treadmill.

Realize that many manufacturers measure the length by the extent of the deck. That is not a true measurement, since part of the deck is covered by plastic shrouds. You want to know the actual length of the belt surface that you can walk or run on.

Desired Treadmill Features

Folding Treadmill - Treadmills are space hogs, so if you want to conserve on space, a folding treadmill makes sense. Several years ago a fold-up was equivalent to instability. Since then designs and innovations have made the better folding treadmill almost compatible to non-folding models. You'll find brands like Smooth and Sole that have folding treadmill weighing in excess to 250 lbs. These models have a very solid feel when you walk or run on them, and yet they can save space.

Electronics - The manufacturers are all trying to out do each other with innovative programs. The leader in this arena is Icon Fitness and their iFit programming found on ProForm, Weslo, Nordic Track and their various other brands. Some brands will woe you with fancy electronics and compromise on the quality of the components.

Personally I prefer to manually adjust the speed and incline, but for many having a variety of challenging program adds motivation to their workout. Don't let the bells and whistle of the programming be a determining factor when purchasing a treadmill. For most, you will manually control your workout, for others they will use 2-3 programs at the most. The one program you probably want is hill training. Interval training is very effective in burning more calories and losing weight.

Heart Rate Control - Using your heart rate to control your workout is not for everyone. But many treadmill owners are addicted to it. The logic is simple, your heart rate determines the level of your exertion. The HRC will increase or decrease the intensity of your exercise and keep it within your predetermined heart rate level. Some experts suggest this technique is the optimum methods for getting in shape. If you are interested in HRC make certain you get a treadmill with a wireless heart rate strap.

These are just a few recommendations to consider. Also crucial is the manufacturer's service reputation. If you treadmill breaks you want to be certain that the company will stand behind it. Equally important are the overall reviews and ratings of the individual models. Check out third party reviews and customer ratings. Some can be found at Bizrate.com, Amazon.com and Epinions.com.

So start your new year with a treadmill that will impact your health and well-being.


By Fred Waters
Fred Waters has worked in the fitness equipment industry for years. Before you purchase a treadmill check out his http://www.treadmill-ratings-reviews.com/info/tread_features.htm Treadmill   Contact Fred  www.lomrpo.com 250 Cliff Rd. Southern Pines NC 28387  910-695-1280  Check out the latest http://www.treadmill-ratings-reviews.com treadmill reviews on over 75 of the most popular models.


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