Why should I buy a treadmill?
The treadmill is one of the most popular types of fitness machines in the world for very good reason. Whether you want to lose weight, generally enhance your fitness, work on a rehab programme or tone up, a treadmill is a tried and tested tool that will help you to get the job done. With a myriad of running machines to choose from, at all sorts of prices, they can all start to look more or less the same after a while when trying to pick one! Knowing the difference between what’s right for you and what isn’t can often be the difference between achieving your fitness goals or not. Because, the difference between your new investment becoming an invaluable ally in your quest for improvement, or an unused clothes horse has more to do with the choice you make just before you press that buy button than many believe. The bottom line is that if the treadmill you buy makes you bored, your chances of success are diminished. If your running machine can’t cope with the demands you place upon it then once again your chances of reaching your goals are once again diminished. Thankfully help is at hand and our treadmill buying guide below will help you choose the right machine for you.
A few facts about treadmills
- Running on a treadmill & walking on a steep incline both burn calories faster than most other types of exercise machines
- It’s an easy and intuitive piece of exercise equipment to use
- Kinder to joints than running on the pavement or roads
- Your training programme won’t be disrupted by poor outdoor weather
So let's take an in-depth look at what kind of choices are out there and see what you need to consider when looking to buy a treadmill.
I’m short of space, do you sell folding treadmills?
Yes, and this is a very common concern when shopping for any item this big, but there’s no reason to worry. The great majority of the models out there are actually folding treadmills. All folding models have a system that allows you to easily lift and lower the deck courtesy of a hydraulic piston underneath the deck itself that both greatly reduces the amount of effort required to lift the running deck and also allows it to slowly drop from a folded position to a flat position keeping things safe. This means that once you’ve finished your session on the machine you can simply step off it and fold it away, reclaiming that all-important floor space. It also makes it easier to clean around the machine. Once folded most models have wheels that enable you to move the machine from one spot to another if you need to, though we strongly advise designating a dedicated space for your running machine and leaving it there if at all possible.
Some models are flat-folding treadmills. These are designed for vertical storage against a wall or under a bed or sofa. The uprights and console fold down into the deck, making it completely flat with a very small footprint and these are ideal if you’re tight for space but not great if you intend on going on a 10k run every day.
So, how do I choose the right treadmill for me?
Start off by asking yourself a few questions. What will I use my treadmill for? Will it be just myself running for 20 minutes 3 times a week? Or, will 5 people run for an hour a day each? What’s my budget? How much space do I have? Answers to these questions will help narrow down your search and this is important. We were only half-joking earlier when we said that once you’ve looked at enough running machines, they’ll all start looking the same! So it’s important to first narrow your search by the basics.
If you want to walk or jog gently a couple of times a week then a model with a small or medium-sized running deck (see the deck size section below) and a lower top speed along with some gentle incline levels will suit you just fine and there’s no need to go for something larger and more expensive as you you’re unlikely to see any added benefits from a larger more expensive model. If on the other hand, you plan to run 5 days a week and want to train for a half marathon you’ll need a larger machine with a standard or oversized deck, high max speed, an incline level of 10% or more and generally a more robust build.
Prices for serious running machines start around the £400 mark and go through the £700-£2000 range for full feature models, right up to £10k for the very top-of-the-range commercial machines. You can buy it cheaper than the £400 mark, of course, but we honestly wouldn’t recommend it. The chances are that if you spend less than this on a treadmill it will either break a very short time after you start using it, or the experience of running on it will be so poor that you’ll just not bother with it. Either way, if you opt for super-cheap, you’re very likely to end up being rather disappointed and not reaching your fitness goals.
Think of where you plan to put the treadmill and how much space there is and not just floorspace but above your head! Many people want to place their new machine in a garage for example, but fail to take account of the fact that the running deck is several inches above the floor and garages tend, on the whole, to have low ceilings. In any event, wherever you’re planning on putting your new pride and joy, make sure you have the headroom to be able to actually run on it!
As a general rule, treadmills are heavy pieces of kit so we don't recommend you plan on moving them regularly and if you do need to move them regularly then we’d strongly recommend getting a fold-flat model.
What Running Deck Size Do I Need?
It may seem like stating the patently obvious, but when choosing a treadmill, it’s important to pay great attention to the size of the running deck. They fall into the following categories:
- Extra Small – any treadmill with a deck width of under 40cm or a length of less than 120cm falls into this category. As a rule of thumb, treadmills with deck sizes this small are only suitable for indoor walking and jogging.
- Small – deck width of 40cm (15.75”) and a length of 120cm (47”). This deck size is suitable for walking, jogging and fast jogging by runners of any height. Shorter users (up to 155cm / 5ft 1in) will be able to run relatively comfortably.
- Medium – Typically 45cm wide and between 125cm and 130cm in length.
- Standard – The most popular running deck size for runners typically measuring 50cm in width and 140cm in length. This size of the running belt is suitable for runners of pretty much any height to be able to go right up to sprinting speeds comfortably.
- Oversized - Some running decks have a length of up to 160cm and there are now extra-wide models also available that are as much as 56cm in width. The additional size on a running belt is a nice luxury for those with space and budget for a treadmill with an oversized deck, as it enables all users to run as fast as they like without having to worry about their position on the running deck.
What else should I be looking for?
- Motor size - the motor drives the running belt. Most models will have a continuous horsepower (CHP) output of between 1.5 and 4 CHP which should cover most home needs. If you're planning to use the treadmill to run more than walk or jog you'll probably want more power rather than less.
- Speed Range – a 10mph (16kph) top speed will be fine for most walkers and joggers. Runners will want higher speeds, and higher spec machines can boast speeds of over 14mph (22.5kph).
- Incline – usually measured in % or levels, running or walking on an incline will burn calories faster, engage muscles more deeply and compensate for the lack of wind resistance compared to running outdoors.
- Workout Programs & Apps – these offer variety to help motivate and challenge you. Interval training, fat burning, time or distance targets, and heart rate control are some common workout modes on many running machines. New models are often compatible with programs and apps such as iFit that pair with your tablet to give you a world of interactive training, additional user profiles and personalised feedback, features such as running with Google Maps and much much more. Some manufacturers have their own apps and there are third-party apps and programs that will work with compatible treadmills too.
- Cushioning – cushioning under the deck supports your strides and softens impacts, making treadmill running gentler on joints than road running.
Heart Rate Monitoring – keep track of your heart rate with hand grips or wireless receiver and a chest belt. Working out in specific heart rate zones helps you optimise your training for better calorie burn, improved aerobic fitness and metabolism and many more health benefits. Some treadmills will offer heart rate control programs where the machine alters the speed and/or incline to keep you exercising in the selected heart rate range. Newer treadmills might now boast Bluetooth heart rate technology which uses a more reliable Bluetooth connection to send your data from the chest strap to the treadmill.
- Extra Features – audio jacks and music speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreen displays, built-in web browsers, fans and other such features are just some of the ‘bells and whistles that you can find on treadmills. Whilst they are nice to have, they are by no means essential. Do keep in mind that some manufacturers will not include too many extras and concentrate on build quality instead.
Why should I buy from Sweatband.com?
We’ve been selling treadmills for more than 15 years and are one of the top-3 largest distributors of treadmills in the UK. During this time, we’ve gained an immense level of expertise in running machines. We’re actively involved with the product development cycles of numerous brands and have visited, provided feedback and liaised closely with the factories that manufacture treadmills for several brands that we stock. The scale of our operations brings a number of benefits for those that purchase treadmills from us:
- Pricing – our buying power means we buy at lower prices than most retailers and we pass these savings on to our customers.
- Delivery Experience – typically, running machines are heavy, bulky items. We’ve refined our delivery processes to ensure that all of our bulky treadmills are delivered by a trained 2-man delivery company. If the boxed weight of the machine is over 85kg and the delivery is to a non-ground floor location, we are still able to deliver the treadmill by using a specialist network of fitness equipment installers in mainland UK. You’ll find product-specific delivery info on each product’s page.
- After-sales – Whilst most retailers only stay involved until the delivery of the machine and leave customers at the mercy of the supplier brand if anything goes wrong, Sweatband.com has a dedicated & trained warranty after-sales team in place. In the event of the treadmill developing a fault, we are happy to be the first point of contact and hold the supplier brand to account to ensure that our customers are looked after properly.
What do I do next?
Scroll up this page and you can start browsing our range of high-quality home treadmills. The filters will help you concentrate on machines that fit your criteria – deck size, price, brand. And if you need any further help just pick up the phone and one of our specialist advisors will be more than happy to answer any questions and offer advice on the best model for you.