So you want to buy a treadmill...

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You! Yes you! Do you need a treadmill? Well, perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. Ask yourself these questions-

Do you have a park or running track nearby which you can conveniently use? Is it safe, accessible, well maintained, and long enough? If so, you ought to give it a shot before committing to buying a treadmill.

A treadmill is not a fix for fitness. It is a means towards achieving fitness. Buying the machine won’t do squat for your health unless you plan to put it through the paces. For a lot of people, buying an expensive treadmill makes them feel guilty if they don’t use it. So that can act as a motivating factor. Unless you are committed to using one for at least 15 minutes a day, it’s not worth splurging on.

That’s what conventional wisdom would have you believe. A questionnaire which thinks for you if you want to buy something or not. That’s what consumer culture has done. Still wondering if you ought to buy a treadmill? Let me help you out. Take a look at the couch in your room. Must have cost a pretty penny. How about your TV set? Is it larger than 30 inches? Must be an expensive one then. Look at what you’re wearing, the watch and accessories. It is conventional to splurge on things we don’t really need but something like a treadmill, which is the best possible thing you can buy for your health, is seen as an extravagant purchase.

Just buy the damn thing! Even if you aren’t committed to using it yet. Having one in your home makes it more likely that you will end up using it.

The double standard makes me wring my hands. After throwing them up in frustration. It looks kind of like a bhangra step, wringing your hands after throwing them up. Speaking of steps, an alternative to a treadmill is a stepper. A machine which simulates the effects of climbing stairs. I’d say that is more of a commercial gym equipment than something which belongs in a home. It’s used for taking your fitness to the next level.

Visualize me doing that Bhangra step in front of you and think, think! Think if you really need a bigger TV, an expensive watch, more medicines to control your blood pressure/diabetes, or would you rather purchase a treadmill which actually improves the quality of life tangibly.

Our entire culture in India has been about conformity to old standards. What with the NEP and foreign investment and nuclear families, there has been another pressure added. The pressure to conform to what is acceptable in the West. The consumer culture was taking hold and once it got in, there was no stopping it. I’m not really saying go buy! Buy! Buy a treadmill without a thought. You still need to think which machine to buy. By all means be convinced that you need one, but take some thought about which model to buy.

You may need to buy a model which costs around Rs 50,000 if you plan to do serious running. Here are some factors which can help you decide:


Who will be using the treadmill? This is a matter for consideration. If you weigh upwards of 80 kg, you may want to invest in a little higher end models. The heavier the user is, the more load they put on the belt and as a result on the treadmill motor. The motor is going to wear out soon if it isn’t built to withstand such weight. One person planning to use a treadmill and a family planning to use it, will require different models.

How fast will you tread?

For those who get a treadmill to walk on, they can easily do with one which has a maximum speed limit of 12 km/hr. If you are looking for light jogging, 12 is a good enough speed. If you’re a runner who has been pounding the gravel for years and run faster than cyclists and rickshaws, you need a machine with 14-16 km/hr top speed. If you plan to run at 14, it’s good to have a machine which can go up to 16. You don’t want to be pushing the machine at its top pace all the time you use it. You need at least a 1.7 HP machine if you plan to run on it for more than 20 minutes a day and have it last for long. Check out whether the HP mentioned is continuous duty or peak horsepower. Continuous duty is a measure of horsepower under regular anticipated use and is far more meaningful than “peak” horsepower.

When you buy packaged food, you look for the ISI standard mark. When you assess a company, you look at the ISO standards. Funnily enough, treadmill motors have flown under the radar completly. There isn’t a industry wide standard for grading treadmill motors. I’ve read of “treadmill motors hardly the size of a can of soda rated at 2.5 HP while motors that are 5 times the size rated at 1.5 HP.”

I’m assuming you want a motorized treadmill instead of a manual one. Motorized ones are better for running. If you plan to just walk, you can skip the technical parts and just get a manual treadmill.

Where to put it?

You will need space in your home to keep a treadmill. Preferably it ought to be a place which is dust free and is well ventilated. You will also need a power plug upwards of 15 amp. It shouldn’t be a multiplug with other appliances connected to it. I believe a dedicated circuit is what they call it. Get an electrician to take a look at it. And get a voltage stabilizer. At least 1000 volts on that.

Belt size

A 17″ x 48″ belt is good enough if you are not obese. People who are wider around the belt may want a wider belt. In terms of maintenance, a wider belt makes for more stress on the motor of the machine. So there is a trade off here. Belts that are too thick are sluggish in heat which increases electrical consumption and wears out key components faster. The added weight of the belt also puts more stress on the roller bearings. To be safe, I’d say a 52″ wide belt is good enough.

The interface

The bells and whistles are more eye candy than functional according to me. The HUD need not be all pimped out with flashing strobe lights. You may not need a machine with over 10 pre programmed programs for different workouts. Those may be effective motivation tools, if you need them then take a look at the programs. Most all treadmills have calorie, distance and speed counters. That’s basically what you need. The heart rate monitor on treadmills works when you place your hands on the sensors on the handles, if you have a heart condition, you may want to pay attention to this.


Clean under the belt once a week with the cleaning solution provided. You can get a spray to clean the motor as well. One thing to bear in mind, after you are done using the treadmill, keep it running for five minutes at top speed. This will allow the motor to cool off. Funnily enough, a treadmill is under more stress if it is operating at half speed with a heavy person on it, than if it were operating fast with a lighter runner. A motor operates at maximum efficiency when it is being put through its paces, i.e. when it’s a top speed. So after you’re done using it, let it run for five minutes at top speed so it can cool off.

So what are you waiting for? Go get the all in one tool to improve your health. You can check out some models here: