Think Before Buying a Treadmill

There was a time when the only place you'd find a treadmill was in a physiology lab or a sports medicine clinic. Not anymore.

Treadmills are one of the highest-selling exercise machines in the country, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Thousands have run out to stores so they could bring home a treadmill and do their walking in the comfort of the living room or den.

A machine--no matter how many electronic dials, imaginary inclines and flashing pulse meters it boasts--will not solve your exercise problems. For proof of that, consider the millions of rowing machines buried in closets, the stationary bicycles gathering dust in basements, the cross-country ski machines converted into plant stands.

Not that machines aren't useful for exercise. For walkers and runners, the treadmill can be an excellent substitute for a track or a country road when the weather turns nasty or the days grow short. You can also use a treadmill to give variety to your exercise routine. Rather than swimming or in-line skating, take a spin on the treadmill.

The key is to stick to a regular exercise program, treadmill or no treadmill. So before you buy a treadmill or any piece of equipment, stop to figure out what kind of exercise you enjoy. That's the exercise you'll keep doing.

If you're the sort who might benefit from a treadmill, a home model has some advantages. You can watch TV or read while you walk without worrying about getting hit by a car.

But treadmills also have their problems. A strong motor is necessary to reach higher jogging speeds and to start the belt at a slow speed for people who cannot walk at faster speeds. Safety features you should look for include stability, a wide jogging belt to help you balance, and an automatic emergency turn-off button that is tethered or clipped.

But before you make the investment, remember that walking or jogging on a treadmill isn't much different than walking or jogging through the park. If you enjoy that, you'll probably be able to make good use of your treadmill.

This is Your Hospital

Tell Us Why St. Jude is Your Hospital.

Tell My Story
This is Your Hospital