The ultimate treadmill guide

Fitness Equipment Buyers Guide, Fitness for beginners

Your Treadmill Options
There are so many running treadmills on the market today that choosing the right treadmill can be a daunting experience. Just like any other expensive purchase it would be advisable to do a little research to make sure you get the right treadmill for you. Read all you can from many sources. Do not just rely on one article from a magazine. There may be an alternative motive to why they gave a particular treadmill a glowing review such as advertising revenue from the manufacturer or retailer. Talk to people who own treadmills they will be much more independent and truthful with their comments.

The other thing you need to determine is what do you want to use the treadmill for. It seems an easy question but admit it, how often have you bought a piece of fitness equipment on a whim and after a couple of days it sat abandoned in your garage. Impulse buys rarely end well. So decide from the offset exactly what you want to achieve and how you are going to use the treadmill to reach that goal. By clearly knowing your exercise needs you could soon be on your way to achieving fitness in the privacy of your own home.

Now decide on your budget, then the amount of space you have to site it (there are now dozens of folding treadmills) then how you are going to use it, for walking, jogging or running. Finally do you want to be motivated by programmes, is heart rate monitoring important (it should be) or heart rate control and do you want to be able to go up hills.

To see what treadmill fits into your personal criteria you could visit a number of web sites or better still ask for catalogues. Catalogues often go into a little more detail than web sites. Then hit the town and do proper shopping. There is no better way to judge these treadmills than seeing them in the metal. If possible visit a specialist fitness store rather than a sports shop. Staff at these stores has far more knowledge than sport shop employees. After all that’s what they deal with all day every day.

Once in the store get on the treadmill and try it. If they won’t let you do this walk away and find another store. I once heard a story were the customer ask to have a go on the treadmill and the sales assistance said that was not allowed. When the customer asked how could he know what it felt like the sales assistance said that he would run on it for him and tell him what it was like.

What to Look For?

MOTOR
The most important part of any treadmill is the motor. Now this is a very difficult element to explain to the layman. There are very cheap treadmills on the market with 3HP (horse power) motors, which seem ideal, but not all motors are the same. It comes down to the quality of the motor components and if any cheap treadmill is offering the same kind of motor as a treadmill at three time the price think carefully. Remember the old adage, you get what you pay for, and this is no more true than with fitness equipment. A 2HP motor in a good treadmill could easily out perform the bigger motor in a poor treadmill. This is where a knowledgeable salesman that knows his stuff is worth his weight in gold. If you only want the treadmill for walking then you could get away with a smaller motor than if you want it for running.

RUNNING BELT AND DECK
The size of the running deck will to some degree be determined by your budget and the amount of room you have for the treadmill. Most people feel the longer and wider the deck the more comfortable and secure they feel. Cushioning is important; it protects the muscle and joints from injury. Cushioning varies from make to make and even in the manufacturers model range. Some decks are very soft, almost bouncy. If you have a particular joint problem and only want to walk on the treadmill these can be the ideal choice. However runners seem to prefer slightly hard decks as they feel that as they pick up speed the deck can slap back at them, which can cause its own problems. This is where trying a treadmill is so important.

CONSOLE
This is a personal choice. Some consoles offer everything from programmes and heart rate control through to TV’s and DVD players. Do not let the gadgets distract you from the basic quality of the treadmill. However on saying that a good console can be motivating and fun helping you stick to your training routine.

FOLDING FACILITY
This is the most popular treadmill innovation as it makes a large piece of equipment a third of its size. Some treadmills have what they call a softdrop facility. This means that if you unfold the treadmill the running deck uses a piston to lower it to the ground gently. This is a great safety feature if you have young children who could just pull the release mechanism while playing. So folding treadmills out sell non folding by at least 10 to 1 but its worth noting that a non folding treadmill is always a more solid unit and if you are a very serious runner these type may be better for you if you have the room.

WARRANTIES
A good manufacturer, selling through a good retailer will not only offer a long warranty on the parts but they will also provide labour on site in your own home, because they will have engineers on the road. Watch out for some web sites. They offer a warranty but if the treadmill breaks down you have to return it to them at your cost for them to then do the repair. Don’t fall for that.

Using a Treadmill
The great thing about a treadmill is that once you get use to the road (belt) moving underneath you and not you moving over the road there’s no special skill required. Walking is completely natural and nor will the weather prevent you from working out.
Unlike any other fitness machine that requires you to physically set the pace the treadmills pace is determined by a motor, so once a speed is set it stay there unless you decide otherwise, forcing you to keep up.

Before you use the treadmill pay a visit to your doctor if you are overweight, suffering from a chronic illness or if you are over 40 and haven’t exercised for a while. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. When you have the all clear read your treadmill manual and get to know the machine. What the buttons are for, it’s safety features and the basic functions and features.

If you have never used a treadmill before the best way to start is to stand on the rail at the side of the running mat and press the start button. The treadmill should move at the slowest speed. Hold on to the handrails and then step on to the moving belt. It may seem quite difficult to walk with the belt and funny enough this is more difficult at very slow speeds, probably because it’s unnatural but we need to start one step at a time. Now speed the treadmill up one 10th of a mile per hour or kilometre at a time (a good treadmill will do this with ease) until you are walking more naturally. You will now soon get the feel of the treadmill and when you have the confidence let go of the handlebars and walk normally. Just be aware that when you stop you may feel a bit light headed or wobbly, this is normal and soon disappears the more you use the treadmill. You have now taken your first treadmill steps.

WALKING
A treadmill is very beneficial to loosing weight and burning unwanted calories. There are a number of reasons for this. If you are overweight you are probably out of condition as well. As long as you have no serious joint problems or suffering from an illness that prevents you from walking, walking is the most natural thing you can do. Because you are only walking and you can set any pace that feels comfortable, you should be able to keep this up without to much stress and therefore do it for longer, increasing you calorie burn. You are also carrying your whole body weight, unlike an exercise bike were your weight is supported, therefore using more muscle groups, which once again helps burn those calories. It is claimed a treadmill can burn as much as 200 more calories per hour than an exercise bike.

When walking on a treadmill remember to wear correct foot-ware and try not to hold onto the safety rails. Walk as naturally as you can and swing those arms from side to side. When you feel ready you can then increase the duration of your workout. Try holding a couple of light dumbbells in your hands or put the treadmill on an incline to increase the intensity. This way you will achieve the most optimum benefits from your treadmill walking exercise programme.

JOGGING/RUNNING
The most common reason as to why people look for a treadmill is simple, they want to jog or run. A good treadmill will be able to accomplish this and whether you are a novice or an experience runner the treadmill still remains an excellent training tool.

If you are a serious runner, running is everything, sometimes almost to the point of being obsessive. This is probably because a good run can release a mass of the endorphin hormone, which accounts for the term runners high. If the winter weather is particularly bad it could be days or even weeks before you can get to run on the road again. A treadmill will still allow you run no matter what is happening outside.

An aspect most people tend to neglect when running is staying hydrated. Dehydration can happen in any weather not only summer heat. If you are out on the road and you have not taken fluid with you this can easily occur and then you could have a problem. This is never a worry when training at home.

If you are a seasoned outdoors jogger or runner the problem of boredom of treadmill running is going to be one of your main concerns. You will therefore need to look more closely at what the console offers. Take a good look at the treadmill programmes and see if they appeal to you. Do you like the display and the way it is laid out? Do you find it easy to read and does it provide the information that is important to you.

Finally look at the treadmill as a whole. Will it go fast enough for your needs; is hill running important to you and if so does the treadmill offer a steep enough incline. Are you a tall runner? If so, then make sure the bed is long enough to accommodate your stride. One more thing, as a runner you are going to be swinging your arms, make sure you do not hit your hand or arms on the safety rails.

Looking After Your Treadmill.
Looking after your treadmill is as important as looking after your body. After all you may have spent a considerable amount of money and so common sense says you should take care of it.

RUNNING BELT MAINTENANCE
If you go to a good retailer they will certainly offer an installation service and they will set the treadmill up for you. But if you decide to do it yourself then there is one important thing you need to do and that is to make sure the running belt is centralised. The manual should tell you how to do this but the procedure entails adjusting the roller at the rear of the treadmill with an allen key, while the treadmill is running at a slow speed. By tweaking one side then the other you are basically tightening or loosening the treadmill belt and the belt will eventually stay in the middle of the treadmills running deck. However be careful, if you turn the allen key too much the belt will move quickly over to one side and it can then slide under the treadmills foot rails and fray the edges of the belt. Just quarter of a turn at a time is recommended. If you keep turning the allen key in the direction that tightens the belt you can tighten the belt too much. If you run on a too tight belt the belt will jerk under your foot and can be dangerous. It also puts more strain on the treadmills motor, shortening its life. But a too loose belt can also give you the same feel under foot. It really is a matter of trial and error. Once this is done you may still have to make further adjustments when you start to run on it. Your running gate may push the treadmill belt to one side so you have to make slight adjustments to accommodate this. An uneven floor plays havoc with the centralisation, so if your treadmill is fine but you then move it to another place you may have play around with it again. However once set up you should have many months and maybe even years before you have to adjust again and the usual reason for this is that the belt has stretched with use and needs tightening slightly.

RUNNING DECK
Most modern treadmills come with a pre-lubricated deck. The lubrication takes stress off the rear roller and motor. Without it your treadmill belt would stick to the deck and once again you would get this jerking under foot. However even the so-called pre-lubricating decks may need lubricating as the treadmill gets older. If you feel this is needed check you get the correct lubricant. The wrong one could ruin your treadmill.

THE MOTOR
There is very little you need to do here. Just every six months remove the motor cover, MAKE SURE THE TREADMILL IS SWITCHED OFF AND UNPLUGED and vacuum the inside to remove any fluff and dust that may have been sucked up by the static from the electronics.

CLEANING
After your workout remember to wipe the treadmill down with a dry towel or cloth, just in case you have sweat over it. Particularly important if another person is going to use it straight after you.

Treadmill Accessories
There is only one real treadmill accessory that you should seriously consider and that is a treadmill mat. These mat not only protect your floor they also reduce noise and static and prevent dust going up into the motor housing. Always a good buy.

Warranties.
You should never buy a treadmill that does not have at least a one year parts and on site labour warranty. Most treadmills today offer a lifetime motor warranty (which is 30 years in English law) and up to 5 years parts and two/three years labour. However keep in mind that any warranty is only valid if the company you purchased it from is still around to cover it. There are a lot of on-line companies selling cheap treadmills with amazing warranties. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Conclusion
There is so much more that can be said about treadmills but this article has covered the important stuff.

Although there are many different types of exercise equipment available, the treadmill is one of the most popular and most sought after, and for incredibly good reason. It is a simple, easy, and convenient form of exercise that allows you to fit in your daily workout whenever you have the time and when you feel like it,

The most important thing to remember here is to take a little bit of time and consideration. Before you make your purchasing decision find the right retailer so that you receive both high quality and good pricing.

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