Everything you need to know about treadmills, from manual treadmills to powered treadmills, folding treadmills and large treadmills for large users, there are many different treadmills to choose, like a folding treadmill or how about a treadmill with small size and lightweight or an endurance treadmill.
Treadmills are good value for money, much cheaper than a gym membership, premium, luxury (see precor treadmill) and fully motorised treadmills are also available as well as walking treadmills designed to get fit through walking rather than running, you can choose from all sorts of colours for your treadmill from pink, blue, yellow or red to the more conventional black, grey or white, choose from self powered treadmills where it's your movement that causes the treadmill belt to turn to all electric treadmills with powered belts that can reach sprinting speeds, treadmills can fold down to fit under your bed or have a hydraulic running deck that lowers from a parked position that takes up less room in your home.
But what's right for you, that's the problem I was facing when looking for a treadmill, I looked at other treadmill and fitness equipment websites but they weren't in depth enough, so I decided to create my own site to answer my own questions.
Please feel free to offer any feedback on my site, I get many emails from users who have found my treadmill reviews useful and emails from users who have the specific make and model of treadmill I have reviewed and can offer feedback on having used the treadmill for several years, I incorporate this feedback into the site, this site is under constant development so check back often for the latest treadmill reviews.
Basic treadmills don't have to be plugged into the mains electricity supply, it's your own movement on the running belt that makes the treadmill belt go round, these treadmills still have a digital display even though the treadmill is not connected to the mains supply, the treadmill may use batteries for the digital display or it may be powered by a dynamo like bicycles and actually use your movement on the running belt to power the digital display.
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Manual treadmills (treadmills which are not powered by plugging them into the mains electrical supply) are good for use in garages, sheds and outbuildings where no mains supply is available, with fewer parts, manual treadmills have a long life of many years (check precor treadmill) and generally are smaller meaning they are easy to store.
Many treadmills are often of the folding variety where the handlebars of the treadmill fold down onto the treadmill running deck, usually there is a hinge to unlock and then you can push the handlebars flat onto the running deck, this allows folding treadmills to be hung on the wall out of the way and being a manual design they are generally lightweight enough that you can lift the treadmill up to hooks on the wall or lift the treadmill down again.
For use in the home manual treadmills that fold flat can be stored under your bed or behind a sofa or behind a door, they are ideal for use in a small flat, apartment or bedsit where you want your own treadmill but it must remain in the room with you as you have a shared flat and don't want to leave the treadmill in a communal space.
Manual treadmills are often cheaper than powered treadmills as you're not paying for the expensive electric motor which powers the treadmill, also the number of exercise programmes on the digital display will be more limited but not as limited as you might think, your still find count down and count up timers, calorie counters and fat burning programmes but your unlikely to find pulse or heartrate measurement or programmes that can actually sense the effort your making on the treadmill.
Motorised treadmills (powered treadmills) come in all shapes and sizes, the maximum weight of the person using the treadmill is of the greatest importance when selecting which treadmill to buy, there's no point buying a treadmill that is underpowered for your weight, if you buy an underpowered treadmill it might be cheaper to buy, but the motor won't turn the belt round fast enough and your wear out the motor on the treadmill, this will be an expensive repair for most treadmills and will not be economic to repair unless the treadmill is top of the range and costing significantly more than other treadmills.
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It should be noted that burning out the motor on the treadmill by using an underpowered treadmill for a heavier user is unlikely to be covered by the treadmill manufacturers guarantee, as the motor burning out due to being used by someone heavier than the stated weight is an easy fault to detect.
If you're buying a treadmill for commercial use, then you're have to choose a treadmill with a high maximum user weight as you're have users of all weights using the treadmill.
If this is your first treadmill purchase then you might be wondering what it's like to actually run or walk on a treadmill, well if you want to experience running or walking on a treadmill prior to purchase then visit your local gym for a free taster session where your be invited for a free fitness assessment too.
If you have not exercised before (look at precor treadmill) and would class yourself as unfit, then consider visiting your doctor and seeking advice before exercising on a treadmill, at the very least a fitness assessment from the nurse at your local doctor's surgery or free fitness assessment from your local gym.
Powered treadmills can come with the option of an inclined deck, in fact even some makes of manual treadmill will have an adjustable inclined deck, what this means is that you can choose to run uphill, this is obviously great for your legs as it builds up stamina, the exercise programme on the digital display can automatically adjust the incline as your running so that it feels like your actually running up and down hills and with a graphical display showing the route you can see on screen the hills along your course.
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Inclined treadmills add variety to your exercise programme as it feels more like running a real route outdoors, your also increase your cardiovascular activity by running up hill (see precor treadmill) and that brings me nicely onto heartrate monitors, on the handlebars of most medium to high end treadmills will be pulse sensors, these sensors are silver in colour and are stainless steel strips of metal built into the handlebars.
As you run or walk on the treadmill you hold the handlebars for stability, you don't have to of course as you can walk with your arms by your side or run with your arms pumping if you wish, but if you hold the handlebars with your hands over the pulse sensors then the treadmill will automatically read your pulse rate and can use your pulse rate data to work out your heart rate.
Exercise programmes built into the digital display can automatically read your heart rate and be set to keep your heart rate constant as you run, or increase or lower your heart rate as you complete the exercise programme or monitor your heart rate and reduce the speed of the running deck or stop the running deck if your heart rate is too high, the display will also flash up warnings as you run to tell you if your heart rate is too high or too low.
Another important feature of all motorised treadmills is the emergency stop button, this is normally implemented in two different ways with the best treadmills having both types of emergency stop, the first type of emergency stop is a big red button on the control panel of the treadmill, usually right in front of you so you can see the button and hit the button with your hand, this brings the treadmill as the name suggests to an emergency stop, meaning the treadmill stops immediately, if your running fast this may make for a stop that's quicker than you would like and you might fall off or stumble.
So don't use the emergency stop as a way to slow down the treadmill, use the speed increase or decrease buttons to slowdown or increase the speed of the running track, if your using an exercise programme that sets and changes the speed as you exercise then the speed of the treadmill will reduce or increase as you have selected but will change back again to match the exercise programme once the programme changes pace.
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Automated exercise programmes automatically change the speed and or incline of the running deck to match the exercise programme selected, changing the speed or incline manually will cause the treadmill to change but the change will be overridden when the next change of pace in the exercise programme starts.
The second type of emergency stop that treadmills incorporate, and all but the cheapest of motorised treadmills (treadmills that have an electric motor (see precor treadmill) and are powered by mains electricity) have is a 'dead man's switch', this type of emergency stop or kill switch is not as scary as it sounds, the emergency stop has a key which is plugged into the emergency stop, attached to the key is a length of cord, when the key is plugged into the treadmill the treadmill will operate, but with the key removed the treadmill will not power up.
Simply attach the emergency stop cord to your wrist or hold the cord wound around your hand or clip the cord to the bottom of your t-shirt, shorts or jogging bottoms and if you pull away from the treadmill or fall off the treadmill then the cord will pull the key out of the treadmill and the treadmill will come to a stop quickly, the same technique is used on jet skis and power boats to stop the boat racing away with no one at the wheel.
Of course you don't have to run on the treadmill you can walk on the treadmill, and all treadmills can be used for walking and running with specific exercise programmes built into the digital display that allow you to choose walking or running programmes, however if walking on the treadmill is all you want to do then you might consider a walking treadmill, these treadmills as the name suggests are designed for walking and not running and can provide greater shock absorption for walking and more exercise programmes specific to walking than a treadmill which features both walking and running.
Treadmills will also contain space for you to store your water bottles and in some cases two water bottles, some treadmills have built in speakers so you can plug in your phone or music player and have your music played through speakers in front of you, both cable speakers and wireless speaker systems are available on the higher end treadmills.
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Also available are television screens, music players and CD (Compact Disc) players which are built into the treadmill, these are by no means essential, but if you like to watch the TV or listen to music whilst you exercise and don't want external TV's, music players or speakers then that might be an option that is important to you.
Treadmills that run the Google Android Operating System will let users watch iPlayer or Netflix or YouTube or surf the web whilst they exercise.
As well as pulse rate sensors built into the handlebars or treadmills you can also have a wireless connection to a chest strap, some treadmills come with the chest strap included (check precor treadmill) and other treadmills allow you to wirelessly connect your own chest strap that you have purchased elsewhere, look for wireless chest strap compatibility where the chest strap supports a range of chest strap manufacturers or you might be stuck having to buy the chest strap from your treadmill manufacturer.
The advantage of a chest strap is that they measure heart rate directly rather than interpreting the user's heart rate by measuring their pulse through the built in handlebar pulse sensors, users that prefer to walk or run without holding onto the handlebars (where the pulse sensor is located) will prefer a chest strap if they want to measure their heart rate and pulse rate as they run or walk.
As well as the maximum user weight (anything from nine stone to twenty stone) depending on model, the power of the electrical motor is also important, the more powerful the motor the more comfortable the run or walk as the ride will be cushioned by the powerful motor, weaker motors can cause the running belt to slow down as user's pound on the treadmill.
Treadmills with shock absorbing systems help take some of the pounding of running out of your knees and back as the running deck will be supported by a shock absorbing system, if you are suffering from joint or skeletal problems then a shock absorbing running deck is recommended.