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Fitness Equipment Buying Tips

By Hal Johnson and Joanne MacLeod

What to Look For When Buying

We believe that a treadmill is the best piece of aerobic or cardio equipment you can purchase. Walking is a natural movement and a treadmill allows people at any fitness level to exercise, from cardiac patients, pregnant women, beginners to the elite athlete. As fitness improves you can begin to jog or run to increase the intensity of your workout or you may choose to incorporate a more difficult incline/decline into your walking program. It's important that you don't compromise on price and certain features when it comes to buying a treadmill. This is an investment and you'll want it to last and deliver on performance.

Consider these key points when buying a motorized treadmill:

    • All major joints should be welded together. The more bolted joints, the less stable it will become over time as the bolts loosen.

    • The track should be long enough for a full stride. About 50 inches is plenty.

    • A three horsepower motor that can operate between 0.5 mph to 10 mph is appropriate for beginners and intermediate exercisers. A higher end treadmill could offer a 4.25 horsepower motor. It's like comparing a V6 engine to a V8.

    • Automatic incline from 0% to 12% adjusts the elevation of the treadmill. You can easily increase the intensity level of your workout without increasing the speed. A decline feature is also available on the higher priced, industrial treadmills. This feature simulates walking or running downhill, adds more variety to your workouts and works the muscles in your legs and buttocks differently.

    • Computerized programs help keep you motivated during your workout by adding different incline and intensity levels. However, depending upon your fitness level you may not need all the programs which will affect the price of a treadmill.

    • Is the treadmill fully folding to save on space when it's not in use?

    • Look for safety features such as automatic shut off if you need to get off the treadmill immediately, safety latches to ensure that the folding treadmill will not accidentally lower, and handlebars should you need help keeping your balance.

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An elliptical trainer is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate walking or running without causing pressure to the joints, which decreases the risk of impact injuries. Elliptical trainers offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the resistance preference set by the user. Most elliptical trainers work the user's upper and lower body.

When purchasing an elliptical machine look for an adjustable incline and varying levels of resistance. The incline option is sure to give you increased aerobic activity and the future opportunity to challenge yourself in new and different ways. Your machine should offer a wide range of incline and resistance levels to ensure that you have the maximum array of potential workout programs. When you change incline levels or resistance levels throughout the workout, the alteration should be smooth and non-jarring so that you can change inclines any time you wish, while still enjoying a great workout experience.

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Often people find an exercise bike a convenient and enjoyable way to work out whether it's due to their fitness level, physical restrictions or for the sheer love of the sport. However, using a bike is not considered a weight-bearing exercise, which is important in the fight against osteoporosis.

Consider these key points when buying an exercise bike:

    • Probably the most important feature of an exercise bike is the seat. If it's not comfortable you'll start to dread getting on it for any length of time. An extra large padded and contoured seat will ensure comfort.

    • Front rolling wheels will allow for ease in moving the exercise bike.

    • Computerized programs help to keep you motivated during your workout by adding different intensity levels. However, depending upon your fitness level, you may not need all the programs which will effect the price of an exercise bike.

    • Look for safety features such as locked seat adjustments, handle grips and solid footings to avoid tipping.

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