So, it's time to improve your heart health, lose a few pounds, and simply become more active. It's time to exercise. Where do you start? Even with the best of intentions, many people find it difficult to get to the gym three or four times a week. With our hectic lifestyles, increased work loads, and various other commitments, exercise routines begin to suffer. Americans, both young and old are searching for exercise solutions that fit into their demanding schedules, yet still provide a quality workout with positive results. Here comes the answer--the ever present treadmill. The treadmill has rapidly become the dominant choice in exercise equipment--both at home and in the gym. "They will probably always be the Number 1 item because they appeal to the two most popular forms of exercising--walkers and runners," said Mike May, communications director for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
More than 45 million Americans currently use a treadmill, either at home or in a gym, according to the annual consumer survey of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. More popular than stationary bikes (which were #2), stair machines, ellipticals and rowing machines, treadmills can guarantee a consistent workout in all seasons in all climates. You need not worry about weather conditions whether it be too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet or too humid. Treadmills are the Goldilocks and Three Bears of exercise--they can be used indoors and at your specifications--"Just Right."
So what do you look for in a treadmill? Start your search by answering some important questions. Will you be using your treadmill for walking or running? Long workouts or short? Who will use the treadmill? How much do you plan on using it? Do you want a basic treadmill, or one with special, optional features (like a heart rate monitor or cup holder)? How much space do you have to use it? How much can you afford to spend?
Depending on your answers to those questions, your selection will be somewhat narrowed, but some basic things to look for include: the motor (since this is primarily all a treadmill is), horsepower (at least 2.0 continuous-duty), motor electronics, motor torque, frame, handrails, speed and speed controls, belt, deck (running surface), impact resilience, incline adjustment, control panel, rollers, warranty, and finally, price.
Runners World Magazine tested treadmills in 1999 and evaluated them on the following four criteria which they felt were most important. You might be wise to consider the same. They were: cushioning (does the deck absorb shock?), stability (is it solid and secure?), actual pace (is the display reading accurate?), and noise (how loud is the machine?).
In addition to price--plan to spend around $1,000 and up for a quality treadmill--the next best comparison might be servicing/warranty. If something does go awry with your machine you want it fixed fast, in your home. Does the company provide a help-line? Do they have technicians in your area. More importantly, the warranty should cover most parts (especially the motor) and the longer the better.
When you choose to have a healthier lifestyle, it means finding a solution and a routine that works for you. Exercise, like most human endeavors is not a "one-size-fits-all" undertaking, but treadmills can help in your quest for fitness and longer life.
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., a business providing useful information and valuable resources on a variety of timely topics. For an exercise room full of information, resources and suggestions about treadmills, visit http://www.TreadmillTime.com
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