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Precor 9.27 treadmill
Precor Treadmill

How to Buy a Treadmill

Whether walking for general health or training for a marathon, getting prepared requires the right equipment, and that includes a treadmill. How much to spend depends on how often you plan on exercising and to what level you need the treadmill to perform. Does it need to fold up under the bed after a morning stroll, or do you require a heavy-duty machine that records your vitals and downloads the information to your laptop? Give the following suggestions some thought before pulling out that wall

The Basics

Step 1Training Type: Are you planning on walking while watching the news or running hard for that first marathon? The difference is critical, as the quality of treadmill you buy depends on how much abuse you will inflict on it. Heavy running requires more money and a better treadmill.
Step 2Weight: Consider your personal size. If you are a 160-pound former college athlete, you'll need a resilient treadmill capable of handling powerful footfalls. If you are a ballerina, you can choose a lighter system that should satisfy all your needs.
Step 3Height: Taller folks need a longer surface, so follow this general rule: A 54-inch length is the standard for most people, yet a person exceeding 6-foot, 2-inches should look into the extended surfaces, which are 60 inches or more. Be sure you check the actual walking surface, as some measurements will include the plastic covering on the deck, which could leave you underestimating by several inches.
Step 4Number of Users: Are you using this alone or will this be a shared purchase? The more users, the better the machine you need to invest in. For example, two walkers can buy a quality piece for around $1,000, yet two runners should expect to drop about $2,000 since they will be putting a greater strain on the treadmill.
Step 5Fitness Goals: Think about how much time you expect to use the treadmill and at what frequency. While you may foresee yourself jogging on it three times a week, you may very well begin running five or six days a week. It may be worth it to spend a few hundred more on something that will stand up to any future increase rather than having to buy another treadmill soon.

The Lingo

Deck: The stable base upon which you run. Depending on the quality of the treadmill, the deck can reduce the impact of both running and walking compared with that sustained outdoors.
Belt: The actual moving rubber piece upon which you run.
Motor: Powers the belt, and normally ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 horsepower for a quality treadmill. Buy the DC version if you can, as it is more energy efficient.
Side Runners: The nonmoving plastic sides next to the belt. These allow the user to step off safely at any time.
Handrails: Bars running on the front and along the side. A major safety feature that comforts most buyers.
Console: The display on the front of the treadmill. Shows times, distance, programs, heart rate, speed, calories and incline grade.

The Experts

Runner's World says that the Evo 2 by is sleek and modern, with enough variations to keep you moving and interested. Forget about even touching the buttons on the console. Instead, simply wave your hand over the handrails to control speed. The strong frame holds a deck built with a high-end absorption system to make the footfalls more pleasant. A smooth, effortless run. calls the Sole F80 the best overall treadmill, and for good reason. Boasting a warranty usually found with treadmills costing twice as much, the Sole F80 is sturdy enough to handle most training, from easy walking to consistent running.

The Brands

Smooth Highly recommended brand known for its consistency and durability. Mid- to high-end products that will reward you for your investment.
Sole Newer product that comes well-reviewed. Good console options for a mid-range treadmill.
Image Low-end treadmills with strong performance records and likable features.
Nautilus Strong, durable products that range from moderately priced to relatively expensive. The series offers an abundance of choices, all of which have considerable options.
Life Fitness Top-of-the-line treadmills with exceptional performance. An excellent investment for the consummate runner.
Bodyguard A series that has received best-buy status and is largely hailed as a product featuring impeccable options and a quality warranty.

The Price

$: Entry-level treadmills priced up to $999. Look for good warranties and training specifics that match what you want. Try the Epic T60.
$$: Mid-range product that runs from $1,000 to $2,500. Search for durable decks, quality surfaces and many console options. Try the Smooth 7.1 HR Pro.
$$$: High-end machines that run $2,500 or more. Expect the best of everything with these purchases. Try the Life Fitness T5-0.