best treadmills have
- A running
belt that measures at least 20 by 60 inches. This leaves plenty of room for even tall,
long-legged users to run without feeling cramped.
- A motor
with a continuous-duty rating of at least 3 horsepower. Walkers can get away with a weaker motor, but it
should still be rated for continuous duty as opposed to peak horsepower. The
latter isn't a reliable indicator of a motor's long-term performance.
- Incline and decline
settings to simulate real-world terrain. Only a few treadmills offer decline settings; but you can reasonably
expect a maximum incline of 15 percent from any mid-range to high-end
- A deck
that's at least a quarter-inch thick. A strong, thick deck is less likely to crack under heavy, prolonged use.
controls. Look for
controls you can operate quickly and safely without breaking stride.
"Quickset buttons" allow users to change settings like speed or
incline with just the touch of a button -- no need to hold a button down or
scroll through various settings.
- A large,
easy-to-read display. You'll likely prefer one that shows all the information you need at
once; some scan through workout metrics one at a time.
- A lifetime
warranty on the motor, deck and frame. The best warranties also offer up to five years of coverage for parts
and two years of labor coverage.
- Do you have
enough space for a treadmill? Measure the space you have available, then check out each treadmill's
size specifications. If you plan to walk or run at a steep incline, measure the
vertical distance, too. Add your own height to make sure you have plenty of
- Can you maneuver
the treadmill box into position when it arrives? Many delivery companies will take the box only
as far as your door, or in some cases the curb. If you're not sure you can
handle a 200-to-300-pound box, consider paying extra for inside delivery.
- How much do
you weigh? Each treadmill
has a maximum user weight limit. For the smoothest ride, make sure the heaviest
person who will use the machine weighs much less than that limit. If you're
heavier than the treadmill's weight limit, you'll most likely void its
- Are you a
walker or a runner? Don't forget to consider any others who might use the treadmill. If a
unit suits the fastest or heaviest user's needs, everyone else should be happy
- Are you
committed to exercising regularly? If so, look at treadmills that will meet your progressing fitness needs,
even if you're not pushing the limits just yet.
No treadmill is
completely maintenance-free, and some even require regular maintenance to
protect the warranty. Most treadmill maintenance is relatively low-cost. Plan
on adjusting bolts to keep the belt in line, vacuuming or wiping down the belt
and deck, and occasionally applying lubricant. Some decks are specifically
designed not to be lubricated,
so check your owner's manual first for maintenance requirements and