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4 Tips for Buying a Treadmill

Owning your own treadmill can be useful, but also a huge purchase. Here's what to look for when treadmill shopping.

Running on a treadmill can be a great way to maintain a consistent training routine amid a busy workweek or during winter months. But it can also be a big expense, so consider the variables wisely, including whether or not you’re more apt to run outside or go to a gym during the winter months.

Size and Space

Treadmills take up a lot of room, so make sure you have adequate space in your home. The footprint and necessary buffer zone of most treadmills measures about 7 feet by 5 feet. You might want to place your treadmill near a window to get fresh air. (If you put your treadmill in a garage, keep in mind that dust and grime can lessen its performance and expedite the need for maintenance.) Collapsible treadmills can be temporarily stored against a wall, in a closet or even under a bed when not in use, but not all fold-up models are suited for high-performance running.

Performance and Quality

Like any fitness product, treadmills come in a variety of levels: basic, standard and premium. But if your aim is to run moderate mileage at a variety of speeds, you don’t want to “under buy” and wind up with a lower quality machine that can’t keep up with your pace or volume of running. The must-have features to look for are a powerful motor (continuous duty 3.0 horsepower or higher) and a quality shock absorption system that will provide a smooth and stable ride at any pace.

RELATED: How to Make the Most of Treadmill Running

Price and Features

Treadmills suitable for running range in price from about $400 to $4,000. As with most things, you get what you pay for. The higher-priced models will deliver great, consistent performance and have all the extra bells and whistles (LCD screen, MP3 interface, heart-rate interactivity and remote-control adjustments). Depending on the features you want, expect to pay $1,500 to $2,500 for a mid-range running treadmill. Mid-range and deluxe treadmills offer built-in workouts that allow for variable speeds and levels of incline/decline.

Take a Test Run

Make sure you take a test run on a variety of machines to see how each feels. (You’ll know immediately if it doesn’t feel sturdy.) Consider shopping at a specialty fitness retailer or at an online dealer that offers interactive sales assistance.

Four Options to Consider

Nautilus T616, $1,000
The T616 is a good entry-level treadmill that’s chock-full of features. It has a large running belt and can run up to a 5-minute mile pace. It’s nosier than some of the other treadmills, but the built-in speakers can help drown out the sound.

Horizon Fitness Elite T9, $2,000
The T9 serves up a smooth ride from a three-zone cushioning system and a responsive digital drive system that continuously re-calibrates with every step. The solid base and hydraulic folding system allow for easy storage without compromising the integrity of the running platform’s sturdiness.

Pro-Form Boston Marathon 4.0, $3,000
This model has a top speed of 15 miles per hour (which means you can run very fast intervals), high-def video workouts that sync to the Boston Marathon course and a wireless finger control that allows for easy pace adjustments without breaking stride.

Landice L7, $4,400
With an incredibly smooth ride and a whisper-quiet 4hp motor, this deluxe-model treadmill is ideal if you like to run early in the morning or late at night. Its orthopedic suspension system offers customizable absorption softness.

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