Most runners would agree that one of the best parts of the running experience is just being outdoors.  Running on trails, in neighborhoods, around a quarter mile track, in your local village offers you fresh air, potentially great scenery, and that special something that keeps most runners outside well into winter.  Well, what if you are a runner and don’t like to brave the elements of winter?  You can make your way indoors to a local health club or university gym and get on the treadmill.

Cybex treadmill...have you read the treadmill buyer's guide?
Cybex, a leading commercial fitness equipment distributor

Perhaps there is a gym at your office or school that you can hop on a treadmill for a few miles during lunch or after your shift. If these options are not available, there is another solution.  You can purchase a treadmill for your home.  Here are 5 things to consider if you are in the market for a treadmill:

  •  Measure the space in your home.  Some treadmills can be as much as 7′ in length and 3 feet wide.  Also, the average height off the ground for a treadmill is over 6″, plus you need to account for additional height when you are running or jogging.  Take the height of the treadmill off the ground, plus your height and make sure it checks out with the ceiling height for where you might put your treadmill.  You don’t want to be hitting your head on the ceiling every time you walk or jog on your treadmill.
  •  Determine how complicated you want your treadmill’s console to be.  Most treadmills come with programmable consoles.  Some of the more sophisticated treadmills have integrated, touch screens.  Most, if not all, come with a basic package of interval type programs as well as a manual setting for just start and go operation.  Some come with heart rate programs.  If you want simple, search for a basic model that gives you the feedback and features you want.  If you want advanced, search for treadmills that have the touch screen and/or integrated screens.  There are plenty of both on the market.

  •  What type of running or walking experience do you want?  Some treadmills are aluminum frame, others are steel frame.  Aluminum frames tend to be more flexible or have more cushion.  Steel frames tend to be more rigid and thus simulate running/walking outdoors.  Some treadmills have shock absorbing systems, others have flex decks.  If you are going to run or walk exclusively indoors, you might want to consider a flexible deck surface, which provides you with the ultimate cushioning.  If you are going to mix indoor and outdoor running/walking, find something in between so one is not an extreme of the other.
  •  Test drive a treadmill.  Treadmills are like couches.  You should try one out before buying one.  Try one at your local gym or physical therapy clinic.  Visit a retail store and ask if you can walk or run on one for 5 to 10 minutes.  Make an appointment at a fitness equipment store and bring your running shoes and outfit.
  •  If you are buying a used model, research the company you are buying from.  Ask about warranty, what is done to the machine, any parts that are to be replaced.  Ask for a photo of the actual unit or a video of the machine working.

Treadmills are a great way to stay in shape during winter months or those days where you just don’t feel like going to the gym.  Luckily, there are hundreds of manufacturers and styles to choose from.  Make a wish list with features, size, price, and other criteria so you pick out one that is right for you.  Happy Treadmill Season.

The author, Noel P. Roby, has been in the fitness industry for over 20 years as a technician, salesman, and broker in the commercial fitness equipment industry.  For questions about this article, you can reach him at