Most treadmills have special features. Such features aren’t necessary for cardio training but they can improve the exercise experience. Examples are preset workout programs, iPod-compatible speakers, web browsers and TVs. Which extras will help you meet fitness goals? Which will go unused? Being honest about your needs for guidance and distraction during training is an important part of figuring out how to buy a treadmill that pays off.
Here are three of the most practical “special” features that some treadmill shoppers seek:
1. Automated Incline — Treadmills with inclines make exercise more interesting by varying your ride. They also have three very practical benefits: They make treadmill exercise easier on your joints, allow faster calorie burn and support better muscle definition.
But how much incline would you use? Most home treadmills today have maximum inclines of 10 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent. Incline trainer treadmills have maximum inclines of 40%. These let you burn calories at a runner’s pace by simply walking.
2. Workout Programs — Most home treadmills today offer built-in workout programs that control their speed and incline. (The cheapest treadmills only work in manual mode.) Some treadmill workout menus are short. Others include dozens of routines. Often this programming justifies a price hike, so be sure you’d take advantage of the guidance.
Beyond these preloaded options, special workout technology is an optional add-on with certain treadmill brands. Here are two choices you might want to pursue.
· iFit can be delivered through your home’s wireless Internet connection. With a monthly iFit membership you can download unlimited personalized workouts. Also available are hundreds of video workouts. Most exciting in our review is the iFit Google Maps app. It lets you draw any route in Google Maps and virtually experience it with your treadmill! Besides watching the Google StreetView stream by, you’ll experience the rise and fall of terrain as the treadmill incline/decline responds to the programming. Which treadmill brands have iFit? NordicTrack, HealthRider and ProForm.
· Passport Virtual Active workout programs are interactive videos. A Passport player can work with your home TV to immerse you in scenic settings with ambient sound. As your workout speed changes, the video and audio will adjust! Passport is compatible with most treadmills by Horizon Fitness andVision Fitness.
· Wireless Pulse Monitors — Accurate heart rate data can help you exercise more efficiently. Wireless heart rate monitors offer the most accuracy. Some treadmills with wireless monitors offer heart rate control as well; their preset workout programs will adjust to help you stay in your target heart rate zone.
Some other special features to consider are on/off cushioning, workout fans, water bottle holders, tablet computer holders, touchscreens, web browsers and high definition TV.