Features to Covet:
- Emergency shutoff - Usually magnets or buttons you yank on or push to cut power instantly if you get into trouble.
- Hand rails - at least one for balance and safety, or at least a slightly extended front rail.
- Minimum two-ply rubber belt for durability.
- Belt rollers at least 2 inches diameter and preferably 2.5 inches or more for smoothness and stability.
- Some cushioning in the deck -- how much is personal preference -- for less impact and more comfort.
- Surface size at least approximately 17" x 52", depending on your height, leg length and stride length, and whether you intend to walk or run (runners need more length).
- Computerized controls and visual feedback on the panel for easier use and motivation.
- DC motors (they eat less power) and a minimum 1.5 horsepower continuous duty motor. Some treadmill manufacturers in the past have played games with HP ratings, labeling lower-grade motors as "peak power" or "treadmill duty." Don’t fall for it. Also, getting a motor bigger than 2.5 won't do you much good; bigger isn't always better.
- Safety lock or switch so kids can't start the machine.
- Speeds — At least 4-5 mph if you or family members are only going to walk. Up to 8-10 mph if anyone is going to run, or ever plans to. Increments of 0.1 mph.
- Start speed of no more than 0.5 mph for safety. Gradual starts are divinely safe, compared to a jerk and go.
- Inclines — Up to 10-15 percent to add variety and intensity.
- Warranties — At least one year manufacturer’s warranty on parts and labor. Most companies these days offer various levels on frames, motors, parts and labor that vary from 1-5 years, with some even offering 10 years or limited lifetime. Check on the limits, though.
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