Treadmill Beginners Guide 

Updated April 2022

Welcome to our treadmill beginner's guide and we hope that you find it useful. You may already have purchased one, or are thinking about it. Either way I am sure that this will be of some help to you. In this article, we will examine the key features of treadmills, and more importantly how you can use these to your advantage.

treadmill beginners guide

Types of Treadmill Available

There are essentially two main types of treadmill , which are manual and electric. Most people will know that a treadmill is used to create an indoor walking or running experience. They have a running board which can move at different speeds. You will also know that there are then certain features added to this basic running board, that allow you to measure things like speed, distance, heart rate etc.

Understanding Treadmill Prices and Why They Vary so Much

treadmill prices

Treadmill Budget

When we first started to look and review treadmills we noticed a huge variation in prices. These prices can vary from just under £100 and all the way up to £1,000+ The reasons for these variations can get complex. Mainly though it comes down to two main things. These are the quality of the build, and the number of features that you want to have.

So if you want something basic expect to pay anything between £100-200. If you want a cushioned running board, electric inclines, fitness running programs, built-in music etc then you will have to pay £500+ My advice is stick to your budget, and avoid paying big money for features that you will never use or need.

Most Important Treadmill Buying Questions

Here are a list of questions to ask yourself, before you buy a treadmill:

  1. What will you be using your treadmill for? Walking, light jogging or faster running?
  2. Who will be using the treadmill? Is it just for you, another family member or more? If for more than consider what features they may want?
  3. Treadmills have people weight limitations, make sure that whoever is using the treadmill is covered by the weight limit recommended by the manufacturer
  4. Can you leave the treadmill in place or do you need to store it away when not in use? Treadmills are either solid frame or folding frame

For the best treadmills for walkers please click here

Understanding the Important Treadmill Features

Treadmills come with a range of features. In this section, I want to discuss those really important ones. It is all too easy to get distracted by many of the gimmicks. In my opinion it is much better to stay focused on the most important basic features.

Treadmill Build Quality & Brand

Treadmills will always take a fair bit of pounding. They have to carry your weight on a revolving running board. If you plan on running on that, rather than just for walking, then it will also have to withstand many hours of pressure from the weight of your body.

It is also highly likely that you will pay a bit extra for the better known brands. There are some really cheap treadmills available, from unknown brands. I would recommend avoiding those as the buyer reviews are really bad. It is the old adage that you simple get what you pay for.

Treadmill Running Area

Therefore they need to be built to last. The running board also needs to be wide enough, so as there is no risk of you inadvertently falling off to the side. A lot of that will come  down to your running gait. Some people run fairly straight so not that big a deal. Others though have a slight angle and width to their running.

Just make sure the running area is both wide enough to cater for that. Also make sure that the running area is long enough to cater for your running stride. Someone who is 6 feet 4" tall will have a much longer stride, than someone who is 5 feet 7". Make sure the treadmill running area is big enough for you.

Treadmills range in running track width size from 16-22". The narrower tracks are really only good for walking. Runners should go wider as that will alleviate any concerns about stepping off the running track.

The length of the track, as I mentioned above, is also really important. Treadmill running tracks vary in size between 42-63" long. Taller runners will need a minimum length of 55" to account for their stride length.

running area on a treadmill

The running motion does impact on the joints, primarily the knees and ankles. That is why it is defined as a high impact exercise. If you suffer from joint pain, or want to avoid it, then you should consider a cushioned running area. Now for the most part all treadmills have a degree of cushioning. However some are just far better than others.

If that is important to you, then always check on the cushion thickness. These vary quite a lot, and it is an important thing to consider. Having a well cushioned running track can reduce the impact on your body by around 15-40%, depending on the model.

Using the Treadmill Incline Feature

The main difference though between a manual and an electric treadmill, is to do with inclines or slopes. People will be familiar with running on the flat. With many treadmills you can also create an incline.

With the manual version you need to get off the treadmill and physically adjust the height of the slope that you want. On electrical treadmills this is done by hitting a button.

treadmill incline feature

This is an important feature and if used properly can really improve your workout. Now if this is not important to you, then almost any type of treadmill will do your job. The electric versions that do offer that feature are usually a great deal more expensive.

Most treadmills offer you inclines of between 10-15 degrees. Running on a slope is of course ideal for burning more calories and making your workout harder. They also really help a lot with improving your cardio. Those who are perhaps into hill climbing or endurance sports can get treadmills with up to a 40 degree incline (Personally not for me)

Treadmill Storage

If you are fortunate enough to have an area in your home, where you can assemble and leave your treadmill, then storage will not be that important. For those of you who want to use the treadmill, and then store it away when not in use, this is a vitally important decision.

Treadmills are heavy, and I mean really heavy. As well as the running board, there is the frame, and quite a heavy motor. That means that they are hard to move around. Many people buy these, set them up where they are going to be used, and then leave them there. That is of course an ideal situation.

storing your treadmill

Many homes though have restricted room, so will need to store them away, under a bed or into a cupboard of some kind. Lifting these is not really an option especially for someone on their own. Thankfully some treadmills are folding, and are also fitted with wheels on the end. That makes those much easier to move around.

The better ones come with power assisted folding, the ultimate in easy folding.

Treadmill Running Speeds

This is for me a very important treadmill requirement, but one that is often neglected. If you are buying a treadmill only for walking, then again this feature is of very little importance. For running though, this is actually one of the most important things to consider.

Running entails any speed from a slow jog all the way through to a faster sprint. It very much depends what you want to sue your treadmill for. Most people use it to train indoors and focus more on a steady pace, that helps build up strength and endurance. Others want to cover a variety of speeds. They may want to start slow, build up the speed and then reduce it again.

The bottom line is that you do want choice, and you want your treadmill to be able to reach the speed that you may want to run to at any given time. The better treadmills allow speeds of up to 16 Km/Hour (10 mph)

For the best treadmills for walkers please click here

Ultimate Treadmill Buying Guide Video

Other Treadmill Features

Above I have discussed the really important features. The build, the quality, the running area, inclines, running speed and the ease of storage are all of vital importance. Once you figure out those, then you can start to narrow down your choices.

The All Important Treadmill Motor

treadmill motor

All of the above features need to be supported by a good quality powerful treadmill motor. The motor needs to have plenty of power (Horse Power -HP) and of high enough quality that it will not burn out.

At the lower basic end you will normally find that treadmills will have smaller 1.25 HP motors, which is just about adequate for basic functionality.

1.75 -2 HP is where you need to be in my opinion to get a proper experience from your new machine. You will of course pay more for that, but then you can do more with your treadmill, and it will simply last far longer. This type of power is ideal for walkers or those who want to do some light jogging.

Runners will need to consider at least 2.5 -3 HP to cater for their needs. I also don't like talking about people's weight. It would however be wrong of me not to explain the importance. For anyone over 225 lbs in weight, you should only buy a 2.5-3 HP treadmill. The motor turns the belt, and the more weight on the belt, the more work it needs to do. 

Customer Service, Guarantees and Warranties

They also need to be supported by great customer service, guarantees and warranties. These do not suffer a lot from faults, but when they do give problems, you want to be able to get them resolved, without any hassle, or any unwanted surprises. Always check what the warranty covers (and doesn't cover) and always register your new treadmill product online.

If you see a lifetime warranty, then you are buying a high end treadmill. At the other end of the scale if you see something like a 90 day limited warranty, then be wary.

Using the LED Displays and Programs

treadmill lcd and display

I class these as the nice or fun features, but they are also rather important. The actual LED display or console should be easy to read, and even easier to set up and use.

When it comes to programs, they help add variety, and also some discipline to your workout. Rather than stand on a treadmill and simply walk or run, programs can actually help you get the most from your efforts.

Most machines will come with about 12-15 programs. The high end ones (more expensive) will come with up to 40+ programs. These are really useful if you want a personal training plan, want to measure your improvement, or measure your weight loss.

Many of these will also synchronise with fitness websites and apps. If that is something that interests you, then check out the specifics of the programs.

For the best treadmills for walkers please click here

Treadmill Nice to Have Extras

Fans - Some treadmills come with built-in fans. It does get hot and sweaty when running and these fans help keep you cool. You can of course buy a small personal fan, and as long as there is somewhere to clip that on, it works pretty well.

Tablet/Laptop Holder - Some come with a place to set your laptop or tablet. So if you are doing a workout you can also do some work, check your online places, or simply watch a movie.

MP3 Player & USB Ports - Some people like to listen to music, charge their phone etc when doing their workouts. Some treadmills come with an MP3 port and some with a USB port and some treadmills have both.

Water Bottle - Some of these come with a place to set your water bottle for easy access when you are doing your routine

Heart Rate Monitor - Many treadmills have the option to add one of these. A few come with those built in. Some treadmills have a heart rate or pulse measuring device built into the handles.

Treadmill Buying Guide Summary

I know that is a long guide. However we believe it contains all of the important buying information. Our strong advice is to give your purchase a lot of serious consideration. We have seen far too many UK buyers getting one of these, for it to simply be left stored away and never used.

They are great and they do work, but only if you can stay motivated enough to use them. Give special consideration to who is going to be using it, and what they will be using it for.

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Enda MclArnon