Staying indoors and working from home can make your life quite sedentary. But you don’t want to go out because of the pandemic. If you find yourself in this situation, what you need is a treadmill in your house.
Treadmills are bulky and expensive, but the payoff is worth much more. They’re convenient, save you from going outside, and many can be folded and neatly tucked away.
But there’s a lot of confusion regarding them. For one thing, what treadmill is the best one out there? And how can you know for yourself?
Here are the best treadmills and a short buying guide.
Size and Clearance
First up, decide on the size of the treadmill. Several factors will influence your choices, such as the amount of clearance you have, your stride length, and your storage options.
Treadmill sizes vary, but most will be shorter than 7 feet. It’s a good idea to measure out the space you have for setting up a treadmill. However, more often than not, there’s a minimum length that you shouldn’t go below.
For walkers, a minimum treadmill belt length of 50 inches is recommended. Of course, you can go above this number if you feel that the length is comfortable. Regardless of the size of your treadmill, to keep yourself safe in case you fall, have at least 8 feet of clearance. Walkers will also find comfort with a 20-inch belt width.
A minimum belt length of 55 inches will suffice for runners and joggers, along with at least 22 inches of width. You can buy a treadmill with a 20-inch width if you’re short on space, but 22 inches feels the most comfortable.
These are the standard minimum sizes for the walkers and runners. But keep in mind that everyone has a different stride. Taller people tend to have longer strides. If you’re over 6 feet tall, for example, a running treadmill of 60 inches will be more comfortable for you.
Motor power is essential as it defines how fast you’re going. It’s mostly measured in continuous horsepower (CHP). The motor can deliver this power continuously rather than just at its climax.
Typically, the CHP of your treadmill’s motor will be in the range of 2.0 to 3.0. People who are fond of walking and want a more relaxed cardio workout should go for 2.0 CHP. For joggers, consider a slightly faster motor, at 2.5 CHP. Runners should find solace in a 3.0 CHP or higher motor.
But that’s not all. Some other factors can influence this. Some treadmills allow you to vary the speed to run and walk on the same treadmill. In addition to that, look for a more powerful motor if you’re overweight, preferably above 3.5 CHP.
Adjustability comes in all shapes and sizes. An adjustable treadmill means a more personalized experience. Look for a treadmill that offers variable speed and multiple inclination levels.
Most treadmills will offer a speed range of up to 12 mph. It means you can gradually transition from walking to jogging to running. Treadmills that offer inclinations should offer a few different levels as well as the flat level. Finally, some treadmills offer a cushioning effect, which can be adjusted to pinpoint the exact point of impact between your feet and the belt.
While not so common among cheaper treadmills, the higher-end ones offer various forms of connectivity. The simplest is a phone charging slot or a USB port for your devices. Some offer connectivity with an iPod or another music streaming device.
Modern treadmills are compatible with fitness apps to keep track of the miles you’ve run. You can also pair your treadmill with a step counter watch that will help you stay on track with your goals.
Aside from just running on a flat plane, some treadmills give you the option to incline the running belt. Inclined running can boost your workout. It helps uplift your stamina and works out the muscles in your legs and hip. And for some people, inclined running can be easier on the joints.
It would help if you decided what degree of incline you want. The most you can get from a household treadmill is 20%. However, some can go as high as 40%. These shouldn’t be used for running, though. You can walk on them, but running would be too exhausting.
An inclined treadmill will help you burn more calories as opposed to running on a flat belt. This way, you can burn more calories in a lower number of steps.
While not featured on every treadmill, track cushioning is important for people with weaker joints. You see, the belt of a treadmill usually lies on a flat hard plane. And this can prove quite taxing on people’s joints. You want a treadmill that provides cushioning with every step.
A cushioned treadmill is capable of reducing the impact when you run or walk. It will keep you safe from blisters and calluses and help you stay on track without getting tired.
Special Workout Programs
Almost every treadmill that you can buy today comes with special workout programs. These are speed, and sometimes inclination presets that are suited to a specific workout regimen. An example would be a light cardio preset that lets you jog at a specified speed.
You should look for a treadmill with a variety of workout options. But just so you don’t regret it later on, decide on a workout style beforehand. Then look for a treadmill that has that preset.
Finally, look for certain safety features. An emergency stop is a must for every treadmill, cheap or expensive. However, you should look for other features, such as a child lock or an automatic stop. A strong and sturdy handrail at the side is also a must-have.
A regular use of treadmills makes your life less sedentary and more active. But they pose two major problems: cost and space. Treadmills take up a lot of space, even when folded up. And when you consider both the initial and the final costs, you can see why many people steer clear of them.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one if you need it. It’s recommended to carefully assess your situation and see if your exercise routine calls for a treadmill.