Table of Contents
What Are the Top Treadmill Features to Look For?
Written by Fred Waters
As a runner I can understand the obsessive desire to run on a regular bases, and that is why many runners purchase a treadmill as an alternative to running outside. As someone who has worked in the treadmill industry for a number of years, I also understand how complicated it can be to select the best running treadmill for your body and your budget.
Bargain basement treadmills can start at a couple of hundred dollars, while commercial grade treadmills for the home can cost thousands of dollars. The quality of the components and the array of features can vary dramatically.
Runners, in particular, require a treadmill that can withstand the abuse that comes with running. And running on a treadmill can be very abusive. Unfortunately, many runners buy treadmills that do not match their physical needs. In this e-book I want to educate my fellow runners in how to select a treadmill that will not only withstand a runner’s abuse, but will also provide a rewarding running experience. First, let’s discuss the various benefits of owning a treadmill.
Benefits of Running on a Treadmill
You can run in any type of weather
When I was younger and lived in Chicago I was a running fanatic, and the weather was not going to stop. I also had an Australian Sheppard that was bred for running and needed to burn off that Aussie energy. I use to run in most god awful weather. That included running in summer jungle heat and winter deep freezes. In the summer there were times when every part of my running clothes was drenched in sweat. In the dead of winter I had to avoid frostbite.
As someone who evaluates fitness equipment for a living, I have to admit that my preference is to run outdoors. I love the fresh air and the pleasure it gives my dog. But both of the dog and I are getting older, and I personally would rather run indoors when the weather hits extremes.
Daylight is not an issue
Another benefit of running on a treadmill is that you do not need to schedule your running around the daylight hours. Back in the days when I commuted to a job in downtown Chicago, I had to start running at 5:15 am. It was dark, and running in the dark sucks. If you run in the streets you have to worry about getting run over by a car. Forget about running on trails, because you can’t see a thing. In the dead of winter in Chicago it didn’t get light until about 7:30 am and during the winter solstice the sun set as early as 4:20 pm. If you are a working stiff there is no way you can run in the daylight before or after work during the winter.
A forgiving surface
According to a clinical study of 4,000 runners by the Southern California Podiatrist John Pagliano, one of the five leading causes of injury is an improper running surface. Another study showed that runners can impact the surface at almost two and half times their body weight. That not only causes major stress to your joints, but also your lower back. This impact is particularly a concern if you are running on concrete or asphalt.
Treadmills are specifically designed to absorb the shock of your impact. Treadmills can reduce the impact by as much as 40%. In fact, many are designed to absorb the shock of your impact at the front of the deck, while providing a solid push-off towards the rear. For individuals that are suffering from stress related injuries, a treadmill can provide a therapeutic alternative to your running routine. It can also contribute to a longer and healthier running career.
Furthermore, a treadmill provides a smooth and level running surface, consequently there is considerably less chance of twisting your ankle or knee on an uneven outdoor surface. I have always found tree roots hidden under leaves to be particularly treacherous.
Monitoring Your Progress
When running on a treadmill you can precisely monitor your speed, distance and heart rate. You can also track calories burned. If you are striving towards particular fitness goals, a treadmill provides your with the necessary feedback to track your progress. In fact, there are a number of treadmill models that allow you to download your stats onto your own personal web page and provide a log, allowing you to track your progress. Most do this through the use USB device, but one brand actually allows your treadmill to communicate directly to the Internet, and automatically downloads your stats.
The alternative to owning a treadmill is using one at your local health club. However, I always found that getting motivated to drive to the club, change and then find an available treadmill, often discouraged me from working out. Plus, I usually hated what they had on the televisions. With your own treadmill you can exercise at your convenience and in the comfort of your home and watch whatever you want on TV. And you will probably workout more often.
Check out the other parts of this article…
Part 2 – How to Select the Best Running Treadmill for your Body and Budget: Running Treadmill Features (Part 2/3)