7 Things to Check Before Buying a Folding Treadmill

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When most of us shop for a home treadmill, we are drawn to folding treadmills as they will save space. Treadmill industry expert Fred Waters offers us these tips and insights into what to look for in a folding treadmill to use at home. He notes that they have improved a great deal in quality and durability from the models sold years ago.

The main reason you want to buy a folding treadmill rather than a stationary one is that the when either are in use they can take up a footprint that is over six feet long and three and a half feet wide.

There are few of us who have the place to dedicate full time to an unfolded treadmill. Plus, a stationary treadmill is usually not very mobile, while folding treadmills are built to be wheeled around. You'll be able to put it in a storage area of your room when you aren't using it.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Folding Treadmill

Fred Waters recommends checking treadmills for these factors when you start shopping for one to use at home.

1. Space: But before you go any further - what will the space requirement be for the treadmill both when it is folded and when it is in use? Do you really have enough space for it in either condition? Get out the tape measure and measure twice, buy once. Make sure you know how much space you have to dedicate to the treadmill, both when it is folded and when it is in use.

2. Stability: The rule of thumb is that the cheaper a treadmill is, the flimsier the frame is.

As you look for bargains, you need to set a floor beyond which you won't go to sacrifice stability. The $1000 level is about where you will see the biggest decline in in solidity. Give any treadmill an in-person test to see how it feels for you. Walk, jog and jump on it so you can see if it will give you a stable ride.

3. Cost: What should you pay for a folding treadmill? If you plan to have the machine around for a reasonable amount of time, and intend to use it on a regular basis, then you are going to need to shell out a few bucks. How cheap of a folding treadmill is too cheap? Fred Waters recommends paying at least $1000 for a treadmill you will use for walking workouts and set the bottom limit at $1500 if you will be using it for running workouts. If that is still above your budget, look for good quality used folding treadmills that have been lightly used.

4. How easy is it to fold the treadmill? The treadmill may say it folds, but how hard is it to fold? Are you going to have to call for your spouse or neighbor to come over to do it for you? If you have any difficulty with your back, neck or knees this is definitely a consideration. And what folds up has to fold down, is it difficult to control the unfolding so it ends up slamming down? That will certainly do it no good. This is another element that you need to try in person before you buy a treadmill.

If you can only shop online for one, read the reviews and post questions to real-life users for how easy they are to fold.

5. Will you be moving the folding treadmill? You may want a folding treadmill so you can wheel it away to get it out of the way the rest of the day (or at least before having people over). But how easy is it to move? Many are arranged so you have to tilt the heavy treadmill back on two wheels to push it around. That may be more than you can handle. Again, try this in person or post questions online. Better yet, look for models where four recessed wheels come out when the treadmill is folded, making it much easier to move.

6. Weight capacity: Fred Waters says the weight capacity listed by the manufacturer is probably more than it really should be asked to handle. Subtract 50 pounds to get a more reasonable weight limit so the treadmill will last longer. Heavier users take more of a toll on the motor, belt, rollers and bearings.

7. Warranty: You generally have to look no further than the warranty to know whether you are getting a better quality treadmill. Fred Waters recommends a minimum warranty of one year of service, two years for parts and five years for the motor. Just walk away from any machine that has only a 90 day warranty.

Best Brands for Folding Treadmills

There are a number of good brands that build folding treadmills. Fred Waters points to Sole as a good brand for quality.

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