Buying a treadmill is serious business. You’re paying good money for a piece of serious exercise equipment that should last you for years and make it easier for you to get a good workout in the comfort of your own home. But many consumers don’t know how to buy a treadmill, so they end up with one they don’t like, doesn’t fit their needs or breaks down too soon.

Here are several treadmill buying tips that will help you make an informed choice so that your new treadmill is a perfect fit for you and your family.

How to Buy a Treadmill for Your Budget

There are treadmills available ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Determining your budget is crucial before you begin shopping so you don’t waste a lot of time considering something you can’t afford. Be realistic when setting your budget – you really do get what you pay for. In general, the pricier machines give you more options and will last longer, but if you’re going to focus on walking and occasionally jogging without the need for advanced programs, a budget treadmill may be just fine. Serious athletes and families with multiple users should probably upgrade to a moderately priced treadmill, and if you want the quietist, smoothest treadmills possible with all the bells and whistles, a luxury machine is what you’ll need.

You won’t know how to buy a treadmill until you have a feel for their cost. In general, treadmills break down into three categories for budgeting purposes:
Budget treadmills run anywhere from $500 to $1500. You can find a few that are under $500, but these tend to be disposable units – you’ll have to replace them in a year or two. You can find budget treadmills at most major department stores, some sporting good stores and budget retailers such as Wal-Mart.

Mid-priced treadmills fall in the $1500 to $3000 range. You’ll find a wide variety of features, quality and styles in the moderate category. This is the most popular category for treadmill buyers. Mid-priced treadmills are usually carried by sporting good stores, although some companies such as Smooth Fitness and Sole have their own Internet retail outlets.

Top-of-the-line treadmills are top quality, health club quality machines priced $3000 and up. These are the favorites of personal trainers, fitness instructors and serious athletes. You’ll usually purchase a luxury treadmill directly through one of their own outlets or order them direct from the manufacturer.
The one place you can buy treadmills for every price range is the Internet. If you go this route, try to visit retail outlets and try them out first, then order online. This way you’ll get an accurate feel for what treadmills work best for you.

How to Buy a Treadmill for Your Needs and Wants

Lots of people ask how to buy a treadmill before they consider what they really want from their machine. You can’t go shopping without first knowing just what your needs and wants are. Keep in mind that what you need in a treadmill should be non-negotiable, while what you want in a treadmill can be flexible.

Treadmill needs include those features that you have to have in order for you to use it regularly and comfortably. If you’ll primarily be walking and you’re a petite person, your needs will be minimal compared to a marathon runner who’s tall or heavy set.

Needs should include:

Treadmill belt width of at least 20”.
A cushioned running deck to protect your joints.
2-ply belt
A minimum 2.0 horsepower continuous duty motor
Warranty coverage
Steel or aluminum frame

Wants might include:

Various workout routines programmed into console
Folding option for storage
Adjustable incline to work different muscle groups
Cooling fan
Calorie counter
Heart rate monitor
iPod or MP3 player input/output jacks

You’ll also want to consider how quiet your treadmill needs to be. Will you be watching television while you work out? Will your apartment neighbors have a fit if you’re exercising late at night? If you’re a serious athlete, some of the “wants” will really be needs for you. A variety of workout options and an adjustable incline are essential to proper interval training and avoiding boredom. A heart rate monitor is also crucial if you’re going to be pushing yourself to do the maximum aerobic workout. Sit down and make a list of what you feel you really need to get the most from your treadmill and refer to your list when shopping.

If more than one person will be using your treadmill, look for the features that will fit everyone. For instance, if your spouse is extremely tall, you’ll need to find a treadmill with a longer treadbelt, even if you don’t need it.

How to Buy a Treadmill with a Good Warranty

Finally, check out the warranty on any treadmill. Most will cover you for a full year with a lifetime frame warranty. Some will cover the motor for three years and the electronics for one year, or cover all parts for three years but offer labor for one year. Anything less than this is an indication you’re in the budget zone and you may find yourself paying for lots of repairs. Luxury treadmills costing more than $3000 should offer an exceptional warranty. Look for lifetime coverage on the frame, 10 years on the motor and a minimum 2 years on parts and 1 year labor.

Understanding how to buy a treadmill is complex, but these tips are a good start. If you keep these tips in mind when buying a treadmill, you should be able to find a machine that works well for you and your family. Happy walking!

Author's Bio: 

Kevin Urban is the editor at, the web's most comprehensive site for treadmill reviews. See our selection of the best treadmills for 2010

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