How do you find the Best Home Treadmill for your Family?
It is probably worth noting that more than half of the people who work out regularly, now do so at home, rather than a Gym or a club. That means that finding the best home treadmill represents big business to Manufacturers, Distributors and retailers alike.
Add to this the fact that the treadmill, is the most used exercise item for home fitness enthusiasts, and you can be sure that competition for your business, when you look for the best home treadmill is fierce.
On the plus side, this means that pretty much everything you want, in the combinations you want is out there in a single machine somewhere. The downside is there are so many machines to consider that the search, (if you allow it to be), can be endless.
So let’s cut through, and see what you should look for in a treadmill, what you should expect to pay, and some ways to buy the best treadmill for home.
So, What are your real needs?
This is an obvious place to start, but many simply fail to do so, and end up with a home treadmill they never should have purchased.
If you are 5’10” tall, weigh 160 pounds, and set out to buy a family treadmill for the home, first think about everyone who might end up using it. If you have a strapping son, 6’5″ tall weighing 220 pounds and trying out as a running back , chances are he will use the machine more than you do, and buying for his needs, not yours is the sensible approach.
The taller the user, the longer the running deck will need to be. The heavier the user the more important its suspension, durability and warranty. A good deck will be firm but yielding, not spongy or soft..
One of the most important factors in maintaining any exercise regime is Motivation, and motivation is seldom helped by boredom and repetition.
With this in mind any decent home treadmill today comes with a wide range of features designed to help avoid the boredom.
They will come with numerous built in workouts, including heart rate monitoring programs, weigh loss programs, real world course simulations. To do this they will have adjustable inclines, and declines, variable speeds, and quality visual displays on an easy to follow console. All for variety, feedback and motivation.
The thing that really matters most here is the quality of shock absorption provided. This is the factor that decides just how gentle the machine will be on your joints and your back. A good treadmill will not only give you a smoother running platform than the outside terrain will offer, but should be better for your joints as well.
Next is the length and width of the running deck. A longer, wider deck leaves room for a natural running stride and natural arm movement not available with a shorter, narrower machine.
Placement of handrails and grips should be convenient for your comfort and safety, but you should not be holding to them when working out.
There are also the minor comforts like quality inbuilt fans to help keep you cool, conveniently placed holders for multiple water bottles, and storage shelves for things like phones, keys, wallets etc.
Despite the built in programs, you will need easy to access controls that allow you to quickly change speed and incline. Any good machine will have built in safety features to quickly stop it if you fall. Some cut off if they no longer sense your footfalls on the deck for a short period. A removable safety key that disarms it to prevent injury to curious children is a must.
You also want to be able to manually scroll through your favorite, “in session” statistics. Speed, distance covered, calories burned, elevation, elapsed time etc……even to view your progress around your plotted virtual course via a colorful digital display…….motivation again.
As Steve Jobs so famously insisted, controls should be intuitive and obvious, and only a few buttons should be needed to get the program you want, or the information you seek.
Any more than that when you are running simply is not functional.
Warm up and Cool down
Another feature with quality Treadmills are both warm up and cool down programs. These make certain that your body is ready to go before your selected workout kicks in, and to bring you down after the event.
Size and weight
Whilst all folding treadmills are, as the name suggests, designed to fold to some degree, most will measure about 6 and a half feet in length, and around 3 feet in width when operating, and in most households they will seldom be folded and rolled away between sessions.
Make certain your exercise space can comfortably handle a machine of that size, allowing another two feet on either side, and at the end so you can get on and off safely.
Also check the nature of the lifting system designed to help you raise and lower the deck, and read the reviews of users on its effectiveness.
Even a folding home treadmill will weigh 300-400 pounds, so in reality you are probably not going to be moving it around all that often.
As mentioned, a treadmill is heavy. You will need to factor this when deciding where it will be located. Getting it up to the second or third floor will definitely be a challenge, as will some of the assembly required. You will need assistance and in most cases that will not come from the delivery guys.
You will probably want a decent treadmill mat to place it on, helping to keep it stable, reducing vibration and noise, avoiding unnecessary damage to carpets or floor boards, and keeping carpet fibers out of the treadmill motor.
Assembly will usually take you between one and two hours,depending on experience and dexterity, but you will need two people for some of the steps.
Running or Walking
If you prefer walking over running, a smaller manual treadmill, (or non motorized Treadmill) may suffice.
Be aware that without a motor to move the walking deck along, these require considerable effort to get going, and this might also be a challenge in the early stages of your new fitness regime.
Power is indicated by a number measuring the continuous horsepower (CHP) output of the machine when operating. The higher the number the stronger the motor. However you don’t need the most powerful motor. In fact anything from 2.0 or 2.5 CHP up, should meet the running speed requirements of most users. Stronger motors do tend to be smoother under load, and can be quieter also.
A quality cooling mechanism on a moderate size machine will likely outperform and out last a larger motor with a poor one.
Growing with you
When considering features, look for a machine that will cope with your growing fitness, can meet your needs for speed, longer workouts, and that has a graduated series of programs, or self designed programs so the future workouts will continue to test and motivate you
Along with the entertainment and creature comforts mentioned earlier, a quick start function, that gets your desired program up and going simply is a great addition. In the end anything the works for you, that actually helps you to use the machine regularly, is a feature that will benefit your exercise goals.
Things like an on-board fitness test that help you to gauge your progress against preset standards are a great motivator, after all nothing kills motivation faster than a sense that nothing is changing.
Also whilst treadmills are great for endurance, and even available with specific designs to help you prepare for a marathon, don’t forget the benefits that flow from the variations provided by interval training programs
These programs change from high intensity through lower intensity in the one workout, moving from timed intense workout through timed “rest periods” and back again You should be able to set those time zones in minutes once, and the program does the rest. Interval training is the fastest way to build your fitness levels.
Treadmills are a long term investment and a warranty should indicate that. The best home Treadmills will come with a lifetime guarantee on the frame. Many offer the same on the motor and the running deck (excluding normal wear factors of course). You should have between one and three years cover on parts, at least a year for labor coverage, and make sure a that the electronics are covered as well.
The best home treadmills today are maintenance free, meaning they should not need lubrication or servicing on a regular basis. It is wise to get a unit with a reversible deck. This means that as the belt invariably wears you can flip it over and effectively get double the life before replacement.
The very best non folding home treadmill will easily set you back more than $4,000, but you can certainly get a great quality machine for much less than that.
In our top folding treadmill reviews, we have identified our best home treadmill around $2,000 as well as finding the very best you can buy for around $1,000. There are also machines to meet all of the criteria mentioned above, from marathon training to interval training, from hi tech to not so high tech.
We also look at some of the very best Non Folding treadmills, for those with the space and budget, and who’s committed running program demands the additional stability that these treadmills offer.
Whichever brand you choose, if you are likely to need ongoing support, or high levels of customer service, buying from a specialty retailer whilst expensive, may be your best solution.
For most buyers however,this is simply not needed, and the bigger online suppliers provide great products, at great prices, fast delivery and even give you access to numerous current users, so you can see real world feedback from others, without any vested interest, before you buy.
So consider your needs and desires in all the areas mentioned, and you will have a sense of what to look for when you chose a home Treadmill.
You will find our recommendations, (including how machines rate on the items listed above) on our review pages.