If you are looking to buy a home exercise machine, the treadmill is an excellent choice. Treadmills are probably the most used machine in any gym, great for warm ups, cool downs and for full body workouts. A great investment if you are unable to get to the gym or outside for a run or walk.
As with most exercise machines, there is a vast range on the market and prices differ hugely. There are a number of things you should consider before deciding on the treadmill for you. Here we will look at the different types and features of the treadmill, enabling you to choose your ideal machine.
Types of Treadmill
Manual treadmills do not run on electricity, they have rollers under them which move when you run or walk on the treadmill belt. These are the most inexpensive types of treadmills and are also the lightest. On the downside, they have fewer features and may have narrower running belts. They are also less sturdy compared to motorised models and are more suited to walking rather than running.
Motorised treadmills have a rotating belt which is driven by an electric motor making them heavier and more expensive than the manual treadmill. The motorised models offer many different types of features and are more suitable for running than manual models. These treadmills are sturdier, more like the ones used in gyms and for other kinds of commercial uses such as medical practices. They take up more space due to the presence of the motor in them.
We will be
looking more closely at the features and variants of both types of treadmills,
so you are able to find your perfect match.
Only Got 5 Minutes?
Walking and running are up there as some of the simplest and best exercises you can do, giving you a thorough body workout and allowing you to constantly challenge yourself. Through regular walking and running, you will quickly see results in both your fitness and your appearance as both walking and running promote good posture and increases bone density. Machines with heart rate sensors/monitors are a great option for you to ensure you are working your heart at a rate to give you a good cardiovascular workout. Some even show when you are in the ‘fat burning zone’ so you know exactly how much you need to push your body to achieve the results that you desire.
There are many reasons why people choose not to or are not able to work out at a gym or go walking or running outdoors;
- Confidence/anxiety issues
- Demanding job
- Family/other commitments
- Not able to drive – you could walk/run there though 😉
- Not on a bus route (as above)
- No nearby gym
- The Great British weather!
Therefore, having a treadmill at home makes perfect sense! You can choose when you would like to workout and for how long, also there is no time wasted travelling to and from the gym and no risk of injury from traffic if you were walking or running outdoors. Plus, with the good old British weather and winters that seem to drag on forever, you are not having to go outside when perhaps it is not safe to do so. This also makes the treadmill an attractive purchase for people who already run and would like to put some extra miles in from home.
Once you have decided whether you would prefer a manual or a motorised treadmill, you can then start to look at the features they include to make sure the model you eventually purchase will suit your needs.
Motorised treadmills offer onboard computers. all will include controls for speed and incline. market, other features can include;
These vary from model to model but Looking at different models on the
- Toggle switches – allowing you to quickly switch between 2 speeds which isespecially great for interval training
- Preset training programmes- allowing for focus on distance/calories/time
- Heart rate sensors – allowing you to keep your workout focused for best results
- Google maps- to replicate real life runs
- Built-in fans – no, not a group of people cheering you on! An actual fan toblow cold air onto you as you run
- Interactive Apps – Access YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram as youworkout to catch up on what’s going on
Look out for practical aspects too such as a cupholder for drinks, tablet/phone holder a headphone jack (although these will be standard on most models).
Is More Expensive Necessarily Better?
As with most gym equipment, more expensive IS usually better. With the treadmill, you need to consider how many people in your household will be using it and how often. The commercial machines that you find in gyms are designed to have many people pounding on and being used for hours at a time. They tend to have wider and longer belts, so, if yours is going to be used regularly and by others, it is worth buying a machine with these features.
The machines at the cheaper end of the market will have shorter/narrower belts with less cushioning. These will work just fine if your machine will get less regular use or if you plan on walking rather than running. If this is what you are looking for, ensure your machine has a good range of incline options as this will reduce the impact on your joints (great for the more mature person or those using their machine for rehabilitation reasons). The incline also gives variety to your workout and allows you to build more muscle on your hips, quads, and glutes.
Whilst a manual treadmill will be a lot cheaper than a motorised machine, you need to be aware that the workout is far more strenuous and will have a greater impact on your hip and knee joints as it lacks the belt cushioning system offered by a motorised machine. The motorised treadmill will offer a more comfortable run or walk, allowing you to work out for a longer period.
“Run, Forrest, Run*
We’ve all seen the film and this is probably one of the most iconic lines from it, up there with some of the best! In fact, in the film, Forrest Gump ended up running and just couldn’t stop, he ran all the way across America. Now we’re not suggesting that you will be doing that anytime soon but something to inspire towards perhaps!!!!
People talk about ‘the running bug’ and also ‘the breakthrough moment’ with running but sometimes it seems as though it’s getting harder and not easier. The key to running is to build up to it, start with walking, increase the pace, make notes of your achievements and set targets to work toward. Persevere, it will get easier. Once you get into it, you’ll find your stamina increases and you are able to cover distances that you didn’t think possible at the beginning. There are some really good running apps that you are able to download on your smartphone such as ‘Runkeeper’, ‘Couch 2 5K’ and then ‘Couch 2 10K’. With apps, you will be able to keep records of your pace, distance, calories burned and times although some of the more sophisticated machines will also do this for you.
It is always important with running that you do some warm up and cool down exercises, after all, if you buy a treadmill and then injure yourself, it kind of defeats the object. YouTube has some great videos and the exercises only take a few minutes to do.
You might choose to watch your favourite TV show whilst walking or running but consider motivational podcasts or music designed for running – they are also a good way to switch off from thinking about your stressful day in work or the jobs that you still have to do. They may also optimise your performance, so, plug your earphones in and get those legs moving.
What to wear
Another aspect to consider is footwear and clothing. If you are planning on a bit of walking, general comfy clothing and flat shoes will suffice. If you are planning on ‘going for the burn’ however, consider cool running sportswear, a supportive bra (for the ladies) and MOST importantly, good fitting and good quality footwear as your feet are going to take a bit of a battering, especially if you are not used to running.
A top tip, once you take delivery of your treadmill (if you are using it to get fit/for weight loss), is to take measurements of your body, record your weight and then also your stats from your first walking or running session. The is no better motivation than to see results and how far you have come and pretty soon others will start to notice too.
Make sure you follow all of the safety guidelines that come with your treadmill to ensure a good and injury-free workout. We have all seen the YouTube videos of people falling off treadmills and it would seem that they cause more accidents than most other pieces of gym equipment if not used properly. It is important, therefore, that you are attentive whilst working out and don’t set your initial speed too high, also, make sure the emergency stop clip is attached to your clothing so, in the unfortunate event of you tripping or falling, the machine will immediately stop and reduce the risk of injury. It is also advised that when your treadmill is not in use, make sure it is unplugged and kept away (where possible) from children and pets
Stats & Stuff
The US patent of treadmill “training machine” was issued on June 17, 1913. The forerunner of exercise treadmills was designed to diagnose heart and lung disease, and was invented by Dr. Robert Bruce and Wayne Quinton at the University of Washington in 1952. (Wikipedia)
In the present day, treadmills are still used in many medical outlets such as rehabilitation centres, physiotherapy practices and universities for medical purposes. The machines used will usually be top of the range allowing practitioners to get accurate statistics about their client. Of course, such sophisticated models are not needed for home use but are available to buy should your budget allow and you so desire.
Running is such a popular form of exercise for a good reason. An average runner can burn around 100 calories for every mile, increasing this figure with intensity, by up to 10 calories per minute per mile. Walking however should not be discounted, in fact, through brisk walking, you can burn almost as many calories. Walking is a great way of building stamina, especially if you would like to start running and interval training is very effective to help with this. Start off by running for 30 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds, then building up to 1 minute and so on, you will be surprised at how quickly you make improvements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not everyone has a home gym or a spare room to house their treadmill. If space is at a premium, look for a folding machine, there are lots on the market for both the manual and the motorised models. The folding process is very simple, even for the more sturdy and heavier treadmills. This will allow you to store it out of the way whilst not in use.
Working out on a treadmill will make you sweat! Most of this will end up on your machine so, to ensure it stays clean and runs effectively, you will need to keep on top of the cleaning and maintenance. Use a vacuum attachment to clean under your machine and around your belt to collect any dust or debris and then wipe down the machine and clean the belt with a damp cloth, using your hand to rotate it to ensure you clean it fully. Make sure you dry the belt before use. Using detergents and sprays may cause issues and the manufacturer will usually advise against it.
During time to time, your treadmill may need lubricating, always refer to the manufacturer’s handbook for instructions on how to do this. With most models, you are able to buy spares such as a new belt, etc should yours become worn.