Author: B. Massey
According to many fitness experts, deciding to buy a treadmill is a smart move if you wish to burn calories, lose weight, and improve your overall health. Owning one of these aerobic machines gives you the convenience to work out whenever you wish -- no waiting in line at a gym, no braving inclement weather to get in that daily jog.
Unfortunately, purchasing a treadmill has never been a more daunting task. There are so many brands to consider, and so many features . . . it's important to have a road map to guide you through what can be a significant financial investment.
Here are seven easy steps you should follow:
1) Determine your goals.
Are you new to exercise (or years out of practice) and simply want to shed a few pounds? Do you want to lower your blood pressure by strengthening your heart with thirty minutes or so of vigorous walking every day? Do you intend to pursue a regimen of hardcore running?
Your goals will determine the type of machine you should buy. For ordinary walking and the occasional running session, a mid-priced machine, such as those available from Proform, will suffice.
If you plan to engage in a serious running program, you'll want a more expensive model built to withstand heavy usage. Look at models from Precor and Landice.
2) Consider your space.
An ordinary treadmill requires as much space as your average sofa. Figure out where you'll place the machine in your home, and take measurements.
One tip: don't put it in that cobwebbed basement, where it's more likely to collect dust than help you get in shape. Place it in front of a television or a window with a nice view, where you're more apt to use it.
If space is at a premium, consider a folding treadmill. This can save you about six square feet.
3) Figure out your budget.
You can get a quality 'mill that will meet the needs of the average user for about $800. If this is a stretch for you, you may want to hold off on the purchase until you have the money, because a cheaper machine is much more likely to break, will wobble and creak during use, and will be thin on the features that you need.
4) Read reviews.
With the Internet, it's easy to become an informed consumer. There are hundreds of web sites that feature treadmill reviews of nearly every available model.
Pay special attention to reviews written by consumers who have actually used the machine, and buy a poorly reviewed 'mill at your own risk!
5) Test machines in person.
Reading reviews can be educational, but nothing compares to first-hand experience. Drop in to a local sporting goods store and take the models that interest you for a test spin.
Tip: during your tests, be sure to wear the same athletic shoes that you'll actually be using on the machine you purchase.
As you try out each one, ask yourself a few questions. Does it allow for a comfortable walking or running stride, not a jolting, jerky ride? Are the controls on the console clear and responsive? Is the motor powerful enough? Does the construction feel sturdy?
Come prepared with questions to ask the salesperson, too, but don't be pressured into an immediate buying decision.
6) Decide on essential features.
After you've read reviews and conducted in-store tests, compile your final list of must-have features.
My recommended features: a continuous duty motor of at least 2HP, safety measures such as a tethered magnetic key, a two-ply belt, a console display that tells you elapsed time, distance traveled, speed, and calories burned, a heart rate monitor or sensors, a cubbyhole for a water bottle, and an adjustable incline.
Last but not least, a rock-solid warranty is essential: lifetime coverage on the frame, three years on the motor, and one year of in-home labor coverage.
7) Buy online, save money.
Buying a treadmill online, direct from the manufacturer or a distributor, can save you as much as 45% off the retail price. Free shipping is usually included in the package. This is a great deal for consumers -- and now that you've followed all seven essential steps, you'll be guaranteed to get the best treadmill for your fitness goals, lifestyle, and budget.
B. Massey is a lifelong fitness enthusiast and runs http://www.exercise-equipment-advisor.com, an exercise equipment reviews web site. If you're looking for more information about treadmills and other fitness equipment, visit his site today.