NordicTrack APEX 4100i (NTTL1890) NordicTrack APEX 4100i (NTTL1890)
Running or walking outdoors on a country pathway or beachfront boardwalk is truly inspirational, but let's face it - inclement weather, darkness and urban settings can kill one's motivation to go for a jog. For sheer convenience, efficiency and safety, a treadmill makes for a focused and effective cardiovascular workout, whether you use it for a brisk, inclined stroll or a high-impact run.

Treadmills come in a wide range of price points, from under $300 to $3000-plus. As always, you get what you pay for. For home gym purposes, you don't necessarily have to invest in expensive, club-quality fitness equipment. However, here are some features you should consider:

Speed: 5mph is a decent walking speed, 8-11mph is good for runners. The treadmill should start out slow for safety.

Incline: Beginners need no more than a 10% incline, but adjustability to 15% will serve you well as you progress.

ProForm 930i Treadmill ProForm 930i Treadmill
Deck: Look for a minimum quarter-inch cushioned deck that flexes to absorb shock and minimize impact.

Motor: Opt for smooth motor with a continuous-duty rating of at least 1.5 horsepower - 2 horse power if you do more running than walking or if you weigh over 180 pounds.

Belt: The belt should be two-ply and a minimum of 18 inches wide, 48 inches long - more if you have long legs. Compact treadmills for home use should allow you a natural stride.

Control Panel: Look for push button controls that you can easily adjust while in motion. Treadmills that let you select or program different levels of challenge are good.

Display Panel: You'll want a large, easy to read display of information such as speed, distance, incline and time.

Frame: Obviously you want a stable, sturdy, durable frame - the less wiggling and jostling makes for a better, safer workout. Home treadmills that fold for storage are less stable.

Handrails: Although some treadmills go without, consider this a necessary safety feature - look for comfortable, ergonomic grips.

Safety: An auto-shutoff panic button in case you lose your footing is a good idea, as is a key to prevent children from playing on the treadmill.
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