Treadmills Throughout The Ages
You can walk on it, jog on it, run on it – and there are some you can even climb on – while still staying in the same spot. These little conveyer belt type devices have been around since before machines were powered by engines or electricity.
Manual treadmills, also called treadwheels, employed either animals or humans to walk on them – providing the power to grind grain into flour.
The ancient Romans used treadwheels to control burdensome objects.
In blacksmith shops, they turned wheels which operated bellows to keep a super hot fire going – while the “smithy” fashioned metal tools, equipment, decorative metalwork, and horseshoes.
In prisons, they were used to discipline convicts who were considered lazy and shiftless. Prisoners were placed beside each other on a treadmill – always walking upward on a neverending staircase – for more than 6 continuous hours a day. These systems were used to grind grain at a local mill – or, to raise buckets of water for irrigation – or, to supply air ventilation for mine workers. Even though this was a way to get some useful work out of the prisoners, the main purpose was punishment.
Fast forward to the twentieth century – to 1913 – when the first “treadmill training machine” patent was issued. Forty years later – in the 1950’s – a viable exercise treadmill was invented for hospitals to use in stress testing –aiding in the diagnosis of heart and lung ailments.
Treadmills for the home user have been around for 50 years now – and, they are just getting better and better – with more gadgets and gizmos than you could ever hope to use.
Do You Need A Treadmill?
It depends on how you envision your need for exercise, I think.
Some folks don’t like working out in a fitness center with a lot of other sweaty, stinky bodies around them. Some folks don’t feel comfortable walking, jogging, or running outside – where they find nosy onlookers – foul weather – or the occasional unseen pile of dog do-do that they accidentally stomp on – peeeeeee-uuuuuuuu!
Don’t forget that sometimes people driving cars don’t see you – because, they are too busy texting on their phones. I’ve had a few close calls myself when jogging around my mostly quiet neighborhood.
And, don’t get me started on those lazy folks who don’t walk their dogs – and just let them out – unleashed – on their own – to do their thing. That’s why I carry a bottle of vinegar water – to deter them from aggressively confronting me during my outdoor exercise regime.
Suffice it to say, that it is much more convenient to get that aerobic exercise in the privacy of your own home – and not be the subject of public scrutiny.
Isn’t this all making the idea of owning a treadmill more – and more – appealing?
So, I say, “Go for it!” But, only if you can answer “YES” to these questions:
- Can you purchase a treadmill without taking out a second mortgage on your house? In other words – can you come up with the cash needed without signing your life away?
- Can you commit to a regular workout schedule and never allow the dust to settle on your treadmill? Can you make that pledge to yourself and stick to it?
- Will you refrain from using your treadmill as a place to hang your clothes? Store your clothes in the closet – or dry them on a clothes line or in a dryer – for pity sakes!
- Do you have enough space somewhere in the house for a treadmill? Remember that they may look small in a store – but, once you get them home, all of a sudden they look a whole lot bigger. So, measure the footprint of the treadmill and find a convenient location in a room that is not off the beaten path. If you don’t have room for a standard “non-folding” treadmill – a fold-up treadmill can be had for smaller spaces and, they normally come with a hydraulic lift to make using and storing them much easier.
How Many Gizmos Do You Need On Your Treadmill?
If you answered yes to all the questions, then it’s time to think about what you want your treadmill to do for you.
Most of the better quality treadmills are designed to offer a myriad of options – and, they are structurally more solid and dependable – especially, if you are more-than-a-few pounds overweight. Expect the prices of these machines to be $2,000 and up.
Basic treadmills with few or no options can be had for under $1,000. But, be wary – you get what you pay for. Isn’t that always the case?
Things To Consider
Every treadmill has a maximum weight rating. But, take that rating with a grain of salt. A person jogging or running on a treadmill exerts more pressure than their actual weight – as opposed to walking. So, to arrive at the exact rating for anything other than a brisk stroll on the belt, subtract 25% – then, if you are still within the weight range for the machine, you’re good to go. You can jog or run to your heart’s content.
Example: A treadmill with a maximum weight rating of 250 pounds can safely be operated by someone jogging or running – who is 200 pounds or less. 250 pounds times 25% equals 50 pounds – 250 pounds minus 50 pounds equals 200 pounds – which is the rating you should use. If you’re a 250+ pounder – but, just walking on the treadmill, you’ll be fine.
Treadmill motors are rated by “continuous duty horsepower.” The less expensive ones are rated at 1.5 CHP – but, these are not adequate for runners or for hefty sized individuals. The best bet is to stick with only those treadmills with upwards of 2.5 CHP.
For walking only, don’t worry about it. But, if jogging or running is a possibility, choose a treadmill with a belt that is at least 4 feet long and 18 inches wide – longer and wider is better if you can get it without too much added expense. Add 4 to 6 inches to both length and width – if you’re over 6 foot tall.
It is a great thing to have a treadmill with a belt that will incline to at least a 10% upward grade – 15% is better – and be able to adjust it electronically. It is a pain in my posterior if I have to stop a workout and manually adjust the incline angle. It is so much easier to do it electronically – simulating occasional uphill treks – plus, these models usually come with programs that will offer a number of workouts that have you going up hills and straight-aways alternately. Some treadmills have a “decline” option, too. However, for me, walking downhill was never worth the extra cost.
If running is in your workout plan, get a treadmill that can give you 10 mph – or more. The high-end models will reach 12+ mph.
Comfort and Stability
The treadmill platform should not be jumping up and down – or side to side – when walking, jogging, or running. Also, it should absorb the shock of the exercise routine – whatever it is. If the machine is shaking, sooner or later be prepared for a trip and / or tumble – especially if you get too cocky and work out without holding on to the handrails.
Easily Accessible Control Panel
If it’s not within easy reach – and easy to manipulate – then it’s of no use. I should also add here that it’s nice to have a control panel that is easy to read – which means a nice, large display – especially for us near-sighted folks.
Time For Some Extras
Most of the better treadmills come equipped with a number of added conveniences that may further cement a buying decision on your part – such as:
- A device to monitor your heart rate – updated in real time – on the control panel screen.
- Walking, jogging, and running programs that you can use to change-up your routines.
- Internet linking for websites and apps to get additional workout routines.
- A place to keep your water bottle – is found on most machines. Mine came with a place for holding 2 water bottles! I’m kidding – but, I did rig up a “double-holder” – by connecting some screw rings from Mason jar lids – to expand my single water bottle holder. What can I say? I drink a lot of water when I am on the treadmill!
Here Are Some Outstanding Treadmills!
3G Cardio Elite Running Treadmill – A heavyweight treadmill at 386 lbs. This baby is better than most treadmills found at fitness centers. The quality and detailed precision of this machine is unmatched in the fitness equipment industry!
LifeSpan TR1200-DT7 Treadmill Desk – For those workaholics who need to get their cardio exercise going but don’t have a minute to spare in their free time, this is a great way to get it done!
NordicTrack Commercial Series – You’ll want to take a close look at these gems. The 1750 model has a 10 inch screen and a 3.75 CHP motor. The 2950 model prides itself with a 22 inch screen and a 4.25 CHP motor.
Sole Fitness Treadmills – Take a look at the Sole TT8 Non-folding Treadmill and the Sole F85 Folding Treadmill for power, durability, accuracy, and a whole bunch more. And, see what owners are saying about them!
Get Some Good Footwear!!!
Comfortable shoes are an absolute necessity. Here is a short list of the best running shoes you can wear for your workout.
These links will take you to the best high quality exercise footwear for both sexes…
I guarantee that you won’t be sorry. Your feet will thank you as they realize they are pampered enough to be in the best shoes possible.
Don’t Forget A Protective Mat!
These mats will keep your hard floors from getting scratched and your carpet from getting damaged – while adding a cushioned, stable surface for your treadmill to sit on. Both options also provide a bit of noise dampening, too.
BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat – One set contains six 24 inch squares that interlock. Order 2 sets to ensure a large enough area for the treadmill to reside during use. With a 2 year warranty, these slip resistant tiles will protect your hard floors and carpet – while grounding your treadmill solidly with their superb traction. A quick wipe with soap and water keeps them clean.
MotionTex 8M-110-36C-7 Fitness Equipment Mat – This heavy duty mat is 3 feet wide and 7 feet long – which should be sufficient protection for any size treadmill. It also has rounded corners to reduce the risk of tripping on the mat as you mount the treadmill. The non-absorbent surface repels liquids – including water and sweat – and, with an infusion of anti-microbial and anti-fungus treatments, it prevents deterioration due to microorganisms that thrive in exercise rooms. Replacing the mat due to manufacturing defects is good for one year from date of purchase. Mild soap and water will keep the mat surface free of dust and debris.
Thoughts and Comments
Let me know what you think of these treadmills – or the running shoes I’ve suggested. Comments are welcome or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org!