Bear with me for a moment. Imagine that you are in the market for a new vehicle. You’ve made the all-important decision on how much you can afford and now you’re deciding what type of vehicle to buy. You may not know the make and model that will be available to you in your price range but you do know what type of vehicle you want whether a sedan, SUV, pickup truck, or van. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Maybe you consider a SUV. Raising a large family? Maybe you consider a mini-van. Looking for a practical vehicle? Maybe a coupe is the way to go. The point is that any of these vehicles will get you around town but the final choice is often made depending on what you hope to get out of that vehicle. Someone who works in or plays in the outdoors is probably going to get more out of a pickup truck than a sports car.
Treadmills aren’t much different than cars and trucks. Much like all vehicles are manufactured with a motor, seats, 4 wheels and a frame to hold it all together, treadmills are manufactured with a motor, belt, deck and a frame to hold it all together. It’s the other design considerations (and what’s under the hood so-to-speak) that really set a treadmills for walking and fitness treadmill apart. A workplace treadmill is similar to a pickup truck. The pickup has a powerful motor designed to haul heavy weight and it performs this task better than any other vehicle type. Since walking on a treadmill at a slow pace places more stress on the motor than running, a workplace treadmill is equipped with a high torque motor intended to handle this task with minimal effort. This special motor allows the treadmill to handle multiple hours of daily use with less wear and tear overall, generating less noise in the process. Additionally, with a standing desk essentially replacing the console and handrails found on an exercise treadmill, treadmills for walking place more emphasis on user safety.
Fitness treadmills are comparable to a sports car in this analogy – built for speed and performance. They are designed to be most efficient at running speeds. Walking on a fitness treadmill for 6-10 hours daily is the equivalent of trying to haul a boat with a Ferrari. It may be able to do it but it’s going to take a mechanical toll. These treadmills come standard with cushions to reduce joint impact while running and workout programs keep the user engaged and motivated. Heart rate sensors and readouts give instant feedback on blood pressure and calories burned. Optional features such as fans and speakers add to the experience.
While some manufacturers have tried to develop a treadmill that fits both established treadmill types, these so-called hybrids fail at doing any one thing well. While one brand may offer a treadmill desk with a 10 mph maximum speed for exercise, it comes at the expense of safety (no handrails,) noise-considerations and an efficient motor. That said, it is our recommendation to decide on what you really want from your treadmill experience and purchase accordingly. For more information on selecting a treadmill, check out our other online resources: treadmill comparison, treadmill buying guide, treadmill desk comparison, or treadmill desk buying guide.
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