The key to increasing your level of physical exercise is picking
an exercise program that you enjoy enough (or at least tolerate) so
you'll stick with it. Are you willing to walk or run outside in any
weather? Can you stay with your outdoor exercise program even when it's
dark outside? Will you make time to exercise at a health club? If the
answers are no, perhaps a good choice for you is a home treadmill.
You may even have looked at some of the treadmill ads and wondered how to select what you need and how much treadmills cost. A Consumer Reports article (June 2003) reported that people who exercise on treadmills tend to burn calories more quickly than stair climbers, rowing machines, exercise riders and exercise bikes. Here are some helpful guidelines for selecting a treadmill.
Look for a treadmill with a belt long enough for your stride and wide enough so you can walk or run easily. For runners, look for a belt at least 50 inches long and at least 18 inches wide. Make sure that the housing covering the motor is set far enough under the controls so you don't kick it if your stride is long.
Belts can be adjusted for steepness. You increase the intensity of your workout as you increase the incline.
Are the foot rails on either side of the belt wide enough so you can stand on them while starting the belt? They should be at least 3 1/2 inches wide for best use.
Are the handrails located so you can grip them and keep your balance? This is important if you plan to watch television and might be distracted as you exercise.
Are the controls easy to read and adjust? If you plan to walk on the treadmill, lower-priced models will probably be fine. One model tested by Consumer Reports sold for $325. If you are a runner, you'll need a more expensive machine that has a sturdy construction and a large belt. If there is more than one treadmill user in your home, you'll want controls that are easy to reset for each user.
Safety features are important
Most models have a key on a tether that reaches to you from the control panel.
If you reach the end of the line, the treadmill automatically turns off. If there are children in the family, hide the key to keep them from playing on the treadmill.