Buying a home treadmill? Top tips

A home treadmill can be a great investment, giving you more options for exercise when you’re out of time, can’t get to the gym, or can’t get outside. Using a treadmill in a gym is one thing, but considering one for your home gym is another matter. A good treadmill is expensive and buying one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll use it on a regular basis. Before you decide whether to but a treadmill, consider these factors:

  • Your budget
  • How much space you have and whether you need a folding treadmill
  • How many people will use it and how often
  • How you’ll use it—running places more stress on the machine than walking and
  • requires a longer belt for a longer stride
  • Extras such as program options, heart rate monitor, etc.

Budget for a Home Treadmill
Budget is probably the number one consideration in buying any piece of home fitness equipment, especially something as big and expensive as a treadmill. It’s important to get the highest quality treadmill you can afford. A quality treadmill will be comfortable, quiet, easy to use, and will last a long time.

If you want a treadmill that will last, you’ll likely spend at least $1,000, although spending between $1,500 and $3,000 will offer more stability, better motors and more workout options.

There are some so-so models that fall under $1,000, but keep in mind those may not last as long, especially if there are a lot of people using it. If you have a limited budget, consider buying a lightly-used or refurbished treadmill. You can often find these for sale by previous owners as well as at some stores that sell used fitness equipment.

Treadmill Motor Horsepower
The horsepower delivered by the drive motor directly affects the quality of your treadmill and how your workouts will feel. Figuring out horsepower and motor specifications can be confusing. To make it easy, shoot for a continuous duty motor with at least 1.5 horsepower. If you plan on running on the treadmill frequently, you’ll be better off choosing 2.5 to 3.0 horsepower. You will also need a more powerful motor depending on your weight.

Minimum Specifications
Other things to look for include:

Belt size: For running, the belt should be at least 48 inches long and 16 inches wide.
Speed: If you plan on running, get a treadmill that goes up to 10 mph or higher.
Incline: Get a treadmill with an incline that goes up to 10 percent or higher. If the treadmill has a decline feature, that is also valuable to give a better simulation of outdoor running conditions.
Cushioning: The running bed should absorb shock and the belt shouldn’t move around with every foot-strike.
Stability: The treadmill shouldn’t shake when you run or walk on it and the frame should remain stable
Control panel: It should be within reach and simple to use.
Programming Extras
Before you buy a treadmill, think about the kinds of things you want. Before you go shopping, ask yourself a few questions such as:

Do you want running or walking programs included?
Do you want a heart rate monitor included?
Do you want the ability to hook your treadmill up to a website such as for new workouts?
Do you need a treadmill that folds or do you have enough space for a regular treadmill?
Can you maintain a treadmill?
What’s the most important feature you want in a treadmill?
Try Before You Buy
You may not be able to find all your treadmill choices at local sporting goods stores, but it pays to do some research and try as many treadmills as possible. Make a list of treadmills you’re interested in and call local sporting goods stores to see if they’re available locally.

Spend at least 10 minutes on each treadmill. Make sure it’s quiet and that it doesn’t shake, even when running. While you’re there, see where the drink holder is. Is there a place to put your music player or cell phone? Can you add a book rack?

Treadmill Warranty, Delivery, and Set-up
The manufacturer’s warranty will often give you significant clues as to the quality of the treadmill. Look for a lifetime warranty on the frame and motor, or at a minimum 10 years. Electronics should have a five-year warranty. Parts and labor should have a two-year warranty.

How will you get the treadmill into your home? Delivery costs can be significant if they are not included in the purchase price. Also, consider how you are going to move the treadmill from your doorstep to your designated workout area and whether that is included or will cost extra. New treadmills usually require some assembly and you should see if that is included or requires a separate fee.

Using Your Treadmill
Once you get your treadmill home, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out the different programs and get into a routine. Treadmill workouts get pretty boring if you do the same thing all the time. Be sure to take the time to explore all of the variations so your new treadmill doesn’t linger in the corner becoming a clothes rack.




It’s common for exercisers to want to watch their feet, especially if they are new to using a treadmill. Exercisers who look down or to the side while they are on a treadmill are likely to lose their balance and fall. Most people’s feet follow their eyes, so looking to the side is likely to cause their feet to move to the side, where they may be injured by the moving belt.

Dizziness is a common complaint from people who have only used a treadmill a few times. While exercising on a treadmill, the exerciser has the sensation that the ground is moving. Stepping off of the treadmill may cause the exerciser to feel disoriented the first couple of times, so they should hold onto something until the dizziness subsides.


It’s fine for a walker to use the handrails while they are getting used to the machine’s movement, but using the handrails for an extended period of time can strain shoulders and elbows. It is also a sign that the speed or incline is set too high and should be adjusted to a more comfortable level. Using handrails can also throw off an exerciser’s balance and make them more prone to leg and foot injuries.

Holding onto the rails decreases the number of calories burned because the core muscles are not engaged the way they should be. Moving the arms freely is a more natural movement that also burns calories.


When beginning a workout, it is important for the runner to straddle the deck and not start the machine with their feet on the belt. Most machines start at a slow pace regardless of what setting they were set on when they were turned off. This safety feature can malfunction and cause injury to an exerciser that is expecting a much lower starting speed. Even if the runner is planning to sprint, they should start slowly and increase their speed gradually.


Maintaining a fast paced run on a steep incline is very difficult, and anyone who uses their treadmill to run on an incline should first increase the incline to a level that is comfortable to them and then increase their speed slowly. It is easy for runners to slip and fall if they increase their running speed and the machine’s incline setting significantly without adjusting to the steep incline first.


There is heat and friction created by the moving belt on a treadmill and the feet need to be protected from these elements. Burns, scrapes, and blisters are common ailments of exercisers who use the treadmill barefoot. Everyone should wear properly fitting shoes when they exercise because their shoes help to absorb the shock of movement and take stress off of their joints. Feet can get caught where the side of the moving belt meets the machine and serious injury may occur.

It is especially important to wear shoes when using a treadmill at the gym because fungus and other germs can be spread by bare feet and it is unsanitary. Most gyms do not allow their members to use the treadmill or other exercise equipment without shoes.


It is tempting to leave the treadmill in motion while the exerciser steps off for a few minutes to answer the door or go to the bathroom. A moving treadmill is a danger to anyone in the area and should be shut off completely before the exerciser steps off the machine. Everyone who uses a treadmill should know where the emergency shut off button is located so that it can be stopped quickly if they become injured or a piece of clothing gets caught between the moving parts.


According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 8,700 documented injuries to children every year are caused by exercise equipment in their home. Machines with moving parts are dangerous for children and should be stored in an area that is away from where children play. Treadmills often cause injuries to the hands and arms of children who are curious about them and put their hands on the belt or between the belt and the rest of the machine. It is best for parents to only use their treadmill while their children are being supervised by another adult.


Everyone who uses a treadmill for exercise should try to keep their balance and use the machine safely, but falls can happen to even the most experienced treadmill users. It is a good idea to make sure there is nothing placed behind the treadmill that an exerciser could hit their head on if they fell off the back of the machine. Treadmill belts move quickly and there is quite a bit of force behind them, so care should be taken to avoid injury in case of a fall.


Last but definitely not least! Everyone should know their own limits when exercising and take care to not push their body hard enough to cause injury. Keeping track of your heart rate while exercising is a good idea. Everyone should know their target heart rate and try not to exceed 80% of that rate. The body burns fat efficiently when working at 50% to 70% of the target heart rate and serious health issues such as heart attack and stroke are likely to occur at 90% or more of the target heart rate.

Treadmills are a valuable piece of exercise equipment that can help people stay in shape when they cannot run outside, but everyone who uses a treadmill should take steps to minimize the risk of injury to themselves and the people and animals around them.