Health & Fit What to Look for When Buying a Treadmill
Is buying a car from Enterprise a good idea?
Should you buy a rental car?
There’s no denying that a treadmill is an investment, so if you're wondering how to buy a treadmill, you've come to the right place. Whether you’re using it to replace outdoor walks and runs or want it to simply complement your current routine, there are a lot of features that can make or break a treadmill. The most important ones to look for when you’re testing a treadmill depend on how you’re planning to use the machine.
The key differences between running on a treadmill and running outside, and how to know which is best for you
Running on a treadmill can help you control conditions and be easier on your joints, but running outside may feel better and build more muscle.In its 2016 survey, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) found that more than 50 million Americans said they used a treadmill at least once in the previous year.
When considering treadmills, first think about how you want to use it, says, trainer and founder and CEO of , an inclusive fitness studio offering indoor cycling, yoga, TRX, mat Pilates, barre, and virtual classes. “Think about what features and intel you want from it now and into the future, and make a list of what’s most important to you.”
Will you usually do a steady-paced run? Walk? Do interval training or take a treadmill-based group fitness class? Also, what additional features are most important to you? “Are you looking for multiple, pre-programmed workouts, connection to the internet, possibly even streaming workouts? Do you want it to connect to Bluetooth? Do you like to track your workouts, and are you looking for a heart rate monitor and calorie tracker?” says Daniels. All of this will determine the best power, speed, and other features to meet your needs.
12 Key Ways You Can Slash Your Risk of Dementia Today, According to Science
Health experts have identified 12 key risk factors that, if addressed, can drastically reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Once you’ve figured out what’s important to you, if you can, try it out IRL, says Dan Giordano, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., CMO of. That’s the absolute best way to make sure the machine is the right size for you and your needs. If you can only shop online, “make sure you read all of the fine details in the description,” Giordano suggests. “Watch videos of people running on the treadmill. Watch the way the treadmill absorbs the shock and if there is any bounce on the belt; watch if the treadmill itself sways side-to-side to make sure it's sturdy enough,” he says. Reading user reviews and calling the manufacturer to ask questions is helpful, too, says , C.S.C.S.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure you actually want to use the treadmill you buy, says. Chris Howell, C.S.C.S., founder of. If it’s too loud or unstable or doesn’t have the tracking features you crave, you probably won’t be motivated to use it that often. And then you’ll be kicking yourself for buying such an expensive dust collector.
The Most Common Diet Mistakes You Need to Stop Making
Avoid these common mistakes to stay on track and shed those unwanted pounds, once and for all.
For SELF's, where we rigorously test and evaluate all kinds of wellness products to help you decide what's worth buying, we wanted to know exactly what our experts suggest looking for in a quality treadmill. Based on input from Daniels, Giordano, Fagin, and Howell, here’s what we pay attention to when testing treadmills for reviews. Use this guide for helpful information on how to buy a treadmill.
Treadmill Evaluation and Testing Criteria
Ease of Use
Your treadmill should have features that you can use easily and safely. When evaluating a treadmill for ease of use, keep the following features in mind:
Easy-to-use speed buttons: “You should be able to change speed and incline so instantly and easily,” says Fagin. “Not just for safety but in case you are training intervals.” Prominent buttons that are easy to press mid-run will make it much easier to change between intervals. Also, the transitions between speeds should feel smooth.
Well-positioned screen or shelf for phone or tablet: If the treadmill has a built-in monitor, make sure it sits at a comfortable eye level, Giordano says. You shouldn’t have to strain your neck up or down to be able to watch the screen as you run. If you’re not buying a treadmill that comes with a built-in screen, you’ll want a spot to put your phone or tablet so that you can follow along to a workout or even just watch a TV show, says Fagin. And you want to make sure the shelf is stable, so that your phone or tablet won’t fly off mid run.
Take Up to 25% off a Space-Efficient Treadmill on Amazon Today
One of these budget-friendly GoPlus treadmills will be a lifesaver when you don’t want to run outside.If you’re the type of runner who retreats to the gym when the temperature drops, a treadmill in your home will become a lifesaver this winter—especially if you don’t feel comfortable going to your usual gym during the pandemic. Not everyone has the budget and space for a treadmill, but fortunately, Amazon is now taking up to 25 percent off the already-affordable, folding GoPlus treadmills.
Clear and easy-to-change settings: Whether the treadmill has a high-tech touchscreen or a simpler dashboard that shows your speed, incline, heart rate, and other stats, you want to make sure it’s easy to find and change the settings. “I find some treadmills are very confusing in terms of changing the screen settings, so make sure you're able to view all of the things you like to see when you're running—pace, mileage, calories, HR zone, etc.,” Fagin says.
Depending on where you’re going to put the treadmill, you may need to make sure it’s relatively quiet. Howell notes that while a foldable treadmill seems really convenient in theory, the noise it causes may deter you from actually using it regularly—especially if you’re buying it to use in a small apartment where your neighbors are nearby.
If you suspect your treadmill is going to be used a ton, you will want to consider horsepower, Daniels says. “The more use the treadmill is going to get, the more horsepower you’ll need.” Plus, the stronger the motor, the greater the max speed, Giordano says. He suggests looking for a treadmill that has a horsepower of 3 if you plan to use it to sprint.
Any treadmill you’re going to run on should feel solid and stable—as Daniels puts it, it should feel “substantial enough to last over time.” Howell suggests putting the speed up to 7 or 8 MPH and shaking the sides to see if it wobbles. “Typically, this is a breaking point for treadmill manufacturers where you begin to challenge the quality of the motor,” says Howell. He suggests also placing your cell phone on the tray to see how much it shakes at high speeds, and then doing the same with a water bottle in the water bottle holder.
Rich Men Are Twice as Likely to Have This Deadly Condition, Study Finds
More money may not always be a good thing. Researchers looked at income and found that rich men are more likely to have high blood pressure.
Every treadmill is built slightly differently from an ergonomic standpoint, says Daniels. One that seems to be built right for you might not work for someone else. “For instance, you might find that the arm railings on one treadmill are not at a level that’s comfortable for you, while on another treadmill, they feel perfect.”
Look for the following elements when evaluating a treadmill's belt:
Size: “Make sure the belt is wide enough and long enough for you,” says Giordano. Generally, if you’re planning to walk on the treadmill, you can get away with a narrower and shorter belt than if you plan to run. If you want to do sprint intervals, or you’re very tall, you’ll need even more belt to accommodate your stride. Giordano suggests avoiding treadmills that have belts less than 48” long. “If you feel like your foot is approaching the sides or the front or back of the deck too much, the treadmill may be too narrow or too short for you,” he adds.
Shock absorption: In addition, a treadmill should ideally have some sort of shock-absorbing or cushioning technology to help absorb shock and create more of a realistic road-running feel, Giordano says. To figure out if a treadmill has that, read up on the technological specs.
Make sure there are handrails on the sides, and that they are well built and sturdy, says Giordano. You also want an emergency cord or clip that you can pull to quick-stop the belt if you fall.
If data is important to you, make sure to get a digital display that nicely shows and tracks data, says Giordano. You can also look for machines that give you more biofeedback (assessing your gait, for example) and the ability to connect to third-party tracking apps or your smart watch.
Some treadmills come with preset modes for specific types of workouts, and others can remember your recent settings to make it easier to toggle between intervals. Others offer manual modes (also called dynamic or sled), where you can power the belt with just your bodyweight, like you were pushing a weighted sled across a gym floor.
While not necessary to do a cardio workout, these may be important to you. Pre-programmed workouts, streaming capabilities, Bluetooth headphone connection, WiFi connection, and the ability to sync with third-party apps, are all features that can enhance the treadmill experience and may be important to many consumers.
Experts Consulted for These Guidelines
, trainer and founder and CEO of .
Dan Giordano, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., CMO of.
Product Reviews Using These Guidelines
This One Tweak Makes Elliptical Workouts So Much More Effective .
The treadmill still has certain advantages, though.In a P.E. popularity contest, these two OGs would be neck and neck. While indoor runners live and breathe by their favorite tread, other cardio-doers may prefer an easy going ride on the elliptical.