Before You Buy Treadmill Equipment

A home treadmill can be perfect for parents ... if you choose the right one.

Woman using home treadmill equipment
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Purchasing treadmill equipment for your home is a big investment, but one that very often is worth it for parents. If you have the space for a treadmill, you have a workout option that's available to you any time you need it, around the clock. You can use it when you have to be at home with a sleeping or sick child, or if it is too hot, cold, or wet to exercise outside. And unlike a gym membership, you can share it with all the adults and teens in your household.

The first step is to consider what specs and features you need in a fitness treadmill. Once you've made that decision, it's time to plunk down your cash. How much will you pay, and how can you get the best deal?

Try Treadmill Equipment Before You Buy

It's essential to test out a treadmill before you buy it. Wear the same running or walking shoes you'd use for an at-home workout. How does the treadmill feel under your feet—too firm? Not firm enough? Can you read the display easily? Is the motor too loud (will it wake a sleeping baby)? Does it fit your body? "You should be able to move your arms and legs naturally and not feel cramped," says Marc Tinsley, a chiropractic physician, personal trainer, and author who practices in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. "Your body should not bump into the display, side rails, or other parts of the treadmill."

    Where to Buy Your Treadmill

    Ideally, you should visit a retailer that specializes in fitness equipment, not a big-box store.

    "A fitness equipment retailer not only knows the inside and outside of the equipment, they also know about the manufacturer's reputation, customer service and warranty," says Shari Feuz, a kinesiologist and certified personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada. A specialty store often offers services such as delivery, assembly, and in-home service if you need repairs.

    A high-quality treadmill should come with a warranty of at least one year for labor and two to three years for parts. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the treadmill's frame.

    Is Used Treadmill Equipment Okay?

    Maybe—maybe not. Buying an inexpensive, used treadmill may be a good idea if you think of it as a trial run. You may not get a high-quality machine, but you get a preview of features you like and don't like. If you find that you enjoy using a treadmill and you think you'll stick with it, you can eventually trade up to a brand-new model, with better features and a warranty. Also consider refurbished machines from a specialty retailer, especially if they come with a warranty or generous return policy.

    What Will a Treadmill Cost?

    New treadmills range in price from $500 to $3,000 or more. You can even get a manual treadmill for around $100 (but these no-motor treadmills do have drawbacks).

    A low-budget, no-frills motorized treadmill may be fine if you plan to use it for walking a few times a week.

    But if you will use it daily, and/or if you are a jogger or runner, be prepared to spend $1,200 or more for a treadmill that will withstand heavy use. "A treadmill is something you will spend several hours a week of your life on, for several years," says Shari Feuz. "You wouldn't buy $2.99 shoes from a bin at a discount store if you were going to hike a mountain or run a marathon. Quality serves a purpose and you will appreciate it."

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