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Sep 7, 2012


A treadmill is a piece of workout equipment that allows you to run or walk while staying in one place. Walking just three hours each week is associated with lower blood pressure and increased good cholesterol levels, so it is no surprise that many people purchase treadmills for personal use. There are several quality features to consider before you buy a treadmill.


A heart rate monitor is a personal monitoring device that allows you to measure your heart rate while working out or to record it for later review. Quality heart rate monitors will measure breathing rate, heart rate variability and activity. Handgrip or wireless monitors are common on most treadmills. The handgrip monitor requires that you hold on to sensors, generally located on the side rails of the treadmill. Wireless monitors require that you strap the monitor to your chest. When purchasing a treadmill, opt for a wireless monitor because it is less likely to impede the pace of your running or walking.


Walking on an incline burns twice as many calories as walking on a flat surface. Most treadmills come with an incline option, so look for one with the best difference in elevations. An incline of 10 percent is standard on economy grade treadmills. If you are looking to train with intervals or burn more calories, buy a machine with an incline of 20 percent or more.


Boredom can put a damper on any fitness regime, so look for a treadmill with the most pre-set or programmable workout settings. Settings should vary from calorie counters, mileage performance calculators, rough terrain and hill settings. Your treadmill can act as a personal trainer if you can save all of the settings to compare your progress.


Treadmills are often the preferred method of cardiovascular training for people who have joint problems. Most treadmills offer some sort of shock absorption and can help reduce pain to the knees, lower back and ankles. The deck of the treadmill is the part that will absorb the shock of your feet when running or walking. Look for treadmills that have a deck that floats on the treadmill frame. A floating deck will not allow for lateral movement. Take note of the size of the treadmill when considering shock absorption because your height sometimes has an impact on the force of your step. Depending on your height, buy a treadmill with a belt that is either 51 or 56 inches long. These lengths cater to most strides.


Sturdy hand rails, safety straps or clips, an emergency stop button and a key that must be inserted for the belt to start are important treadmill safety features. Safety is not only important for the person using the machine but also for anyone who may be around the machine--unsupervised children, for example.