I love my treadmill. I really do! If not for my treadmill, I would hardly get any exercise at all. I work from home, and everything I need, from groceries to medical attention, is conveniently located just a few miles from my home. The distance is too far to travel by foot, especially if a couple of dozen bags of groceries are involved, but by car it’s just a few minutes’ drive.

Because my children are homeschooled and my wife’s erratic work schedule allows him to be home for a week at a time, several days can go by before I need to venture past my front porch. My family has two large breed dogs, but my sons are responsible for their care – including walking. And if life is racing ahead at its usually hectic pace, then several more days can pass before I accumulate a mile’s worth of steps simply walking back and forth from one area of my family’s three bedroom house to the next.

My love for my treadmill goes far beyond a marriage of convenience; I like the added bit of security I feel when jogging from the safety of my home. Between home schooling my sons and working as a freelance writer, my days are long and I sometimes don’t wrap up my business until long after sunset. Because my busy-by-day community rolls up the streets at dusk, I’d rather run on the certain surface of my treadmill’s track than risk a wrenched ankle from nighttime power-walking.

Not to mention, walking on my treadmill is a great way to loosen up after a few hours of sitting at my desk. And I get some of my most creative ideas during exercise! I believe it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
Sometimes I can get positively fixated on my thoughts, which is perfectly fine when strolling on a treadmill. But that’s not so safe when wandering along the sidewalk.

It wasn’t easy, though, finding the right treadmill. At first I thought that the only differences were name brand and the price tag attached. After talking to friends and family, I realized there were treadmill features I definitely wanted, and others that weren’t as important. With list in hand, I began looking online for unbiased treadmill reviews. My first choice of treadmill was quickly replaced – there was no way it could live up to my demands! Here are some suggestions based on things that made a difference in getting me started on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Add Intervals – I ran with the track team in high school, and capable of running several miles a day. When I adopted a more sedentary lifestyle in my twenties, that endurance and stamina went right out the window. As much as I wanted get back into running several miles at a stretch, my body decided otherwise. First my wife had to deal with a high risk pregnancy, and then we were too exhausted from keeping up with my children during their toddler and preschool years.

When my wife began work as a paid firefighter, I allowed myself an hour of exercise three times a week. That’s when interval training came in handy. Even champion marathoners use intervals in their training. Walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes; then run for 1 minute. Walk for 1 minute, then run for 2 minutes, and so on, gradually increasing the length of time you run while decreasing the time spent walking. When applying this to a desirable quality in a treadmill, look for a model that allows for easy and smooth transitions from walking to running.

Increased Intensity – My first treadmill worked well enough. It was very straight forward and got the job done for someone like me who was just getting back into the habit of exercising regularly. Sadly, I fell out of love with the clunker it came time to up the intensity of my work out. I wanted hills! Resistance! And something different from flat, flat, flat!

If you’re able to hold a conversation easily during your workout, then you’re not working hard enough. If you’re struggling with pounds not melting as quickly as you’d like, then the intensity of your workout could be a factor. Sometimes just adding a few degrees of incline to your treadmill will up the intensity to the peak heart-rate range you’re looking for, and the majority of treadmill models allow you to change the incline from 0-12%. Not sure if you’re in the peak heart-rate zone? Don’t worry; heart-rate monitors and controls are pretty standard equipment these days.

Have Fun! – The motion of your treadmill should be smooth, allowing for an easy stride. Working to create motion in the track puts you at risk for injury or strain and could lead to you losing motivation to exercise in the first place. Some treadmills include pre-set workouts that can make you feel like you’ve just finished hiking a mountain trial, with randomly shifting speeds, angles of various incline, and differing intensity settings making it feel like you’ve got a personal trainer built right into your machine. Some models have as many as 28 different workout programs, with something for nearly every day of the month.

These three popular features just scratch the surface of what’s available. When purchasing a treadmill, I looked high and low for unbiased treadmill reviews, taking plenty of factors into consideration. Definitely do your homework before committing to the purchase. After all, you’re not just buying a treadmill; you’re bringing in an electronic, personal trainer that will help your entire family achieve healthy lifestyle goals. Cutting corners during the initial stages of research means you could end up with an expensive rack for your clothes.

Jason Munroe is a freelance writer who cares about balancing his sedentary career with active hobbies, like walking on his new treadmill! He’s currently working on a treadmill review series to help other walking enthusiasts find the right treadmill that fits their unique needs. In his spare time, Jason also enjoys cooking healthy recipes for his family, and playing fetch with their golden retriever.