Using a treadmill is a great way to improve your fitness in the convenience of your own home. There are so many different home treadmills available it can be difficult to know which is the best for you. Should you opt for a manual or a motorized treadmill? The easiest way to answer this question is to look at the three major factors you need to consider when buying a treadmill. These three factors are your budget, space you have available and the type of exercise you want to carry out.
1. Budget – Manual treadmills are far cheaper than motorized models. Manuals do not have a motor, have lighter framing as a result and fewer complex mechanicals. They also have shorter and often narrower running decks. This all reflects in the price you will pay. Manual models will generally start in price at $120 and go as high as $200. The Stamina Inmotion II manual is the best seller at the moment coming in at $180. Motorized treadmills tend to start at $350 and can rise in cost $1900 for the very best home electric treadmills. The most popular electric treadmill at the moment is the Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill coming in at $600.
2. Space To Deploy And Store – Before you shop, consider the space you have available to use the machine, whether you need a folding model for storage and how far you are going to have to move the equipment to put in storage. Manuals are generally smaller, lighter in weight and better at folding than motorized treadmills for the same reasons as they are cheaper. A manual will often come in at circa 46 x 50 x 21 inches (WxHxD) in use and will fold to 22 x 50 x 21 inches when folded. They also weigh in the region of 60 pounds and some models come with wheels so they can be considered relatively easy to move. An electric model like the Horizon T101 will be 71 x 33 x 55 inches (DxWxH) when opened for use and 33 inches wide and 40 inches deep when folded. The T101 weighs in at 169 pounds so is harder to move around, a shock absorption helps to make raising the running deck easy. Manuals offer more storage options as you can lay them flat under a bed or drop them in a closet. With a motorized treadmill you will have to leave them upright close to the area you are planning to use them in.
3. Type Of Exercise – Treadmills are generally used for walking and running exercise but not all treadmills are suitable for both types of exercise. Manual treadmills are generally not suitable for running or even jogging exercises. Because the user has to power the treadmill, manuals can be dangerously unstable for running exercises. Most manuals have running decks that are both narrow and short. Whilst this is fine for walking exercises, a runner will have a longer stride length that requires a longer running deck. Generally if you are looking for a treadmill for running you are going to want a running deck that is at least 50 inches long and preferably longer. Most manual treadmills will have a running deck 41-45 inches long which is ideal for walking. Cheap motorized treadmills will often have a deck from 45-50 inches long. These are great for walking but are likely to be insufficient for running. The Horizon T101 has a 55 inch belt which is suitable for walkers or runners. If you do decide you want to do walking exercises, it is worth noting that manuals are far more user intensive as you get no help from motors to move the belt
In conclusion it is fairly easy to see that manuals are easy to store and move, cheap, but only useful for some exercises. A motorized model is more expensive, harder to store/move but more versatile in use if you get a version with a longer running deck. An electric model with a short deck will probably be of little use for running, despite what a manufacturer might say, but it will be easier to use than a manual which may help you maintain an exercise routine for longer.