Buying Cardio Equipment – Tips for Choosing Quality Machines

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Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of U.S. adults. 900,000 people die every year. One way to help prevent this is by exercising regularly, either at a gym or at home.

If you prefer exercising at home, do your research before investing in a cardio machine. You may want to read Consumer Reports, online user reviews, and talk with friends and family who own them or use them at a local gym. Here are some guidelines to follow for three of the more popular cardio machines.

Treadmill:

  • Display – is it easy to read, does it provide the information you want to track (i.e. set programs, manual programming, calories, strides, distance, heart rate, etc.).
  • Belt – are the length and width good for your size and whether you will be running or walking (stride length).
  • Handrails – not that you should be relying on these, but if you use them, are they comfortable for you?
  • Dimensions – will it fit where you want to place it?
  • Storage – keep open or fold up and easy to fold up?
  • Mat – for underneath?
  • Electric cord – need extension?
  • Place to hold a bottle of water?
  • Safety – in case you need to turn it off abruptly.
  • Cushioning of tread; running inside is different from outside, find one that you like.
  • Are you planning on running, walking, or both?
  • Counts down before beginning and automatically lowers itself (incline) when finished.
  • The deck is what the tread travels over; some have ones that are reversible, doubling the life of your machine – this may not be necessary for most people.
  • Single-ply or two-ply belt; again two-ply belt may not be needed for most people.

Elliptical:

  • buying-cardio-equipmentDisplay – is it easy to read, does it provide the information you want to track (i.e. set programs, manual programming, calories, strides, distance, heart rate, etc.).
  • Pedals – comfortable for your stride.
  • Handrails – not that you should be relying on these, but if you use them, are they comfortable for you?
  • Dimensions – will it fit where you want to place it?
  • Mat – for underneath?
  • Electric cord – need extension?
  • Place to hold a bottle of water?
  • Safety – in case you need to turn it off abruptly.
  • Upper body workout also?
  • User weight limit.
  • No slip pedals.
  • Cooling fan.
  • Reverse pedaling.
  • Preset programs – quantity, type.
  • Levels of resistance.

Bike:

  • Style preference – stationary or recumbent?
  • Display – is it easy to read, does it provide the information you want to track (i.e. set programs, manual programming, calories, strides, distance, heart rate, etc.)
  • Seat – can you adjust it to a comfortable position?
  • Pedals – comfortable for your stride, something to hold your foot on the pedals, allows for cycling shoes if you wear them?
  • Dimensions – will it fit where you want to place it?
  • Mat – for underneath?
  • Electric cord – need extension?
  • Place to hold a bottle of water?
  • Safety – in case you need to turn it off abruptly
  • Ease of use, ergonomics, exercise range, construction, heart-rate monitor and safety
  • How much does it weigh – will you need to move it often?
  • Kids in-house – shrouded wheel will prevent them from getting their fingers stuck in the “spokes”.

For all machines, once you have determined your price range, consider big box brick and mortar stores, buying online, as well as your local Craig’s List, going out of business sales, Big Lots, and other close outs. If going to a local store, factor in delivery costs or how you will transport it. If buying online, consider shipping costs.

Look at the machine’s warranty, stability, durability, weight limit, and if the machine is loud when in use. This comes into consideration if you live in an apartment building versus living in a house.

Depending on the intensity of your workouts, does it have a place to hold a book or magazine? Does it require assembly? If so, can you do it or will you need help? Who will help you? Does it allow for manual override in case you need to slow it down or want to speed it up? Do you want an iPod jack to play your music through? Do you want a TV screen on it?

The investment is your health is an important one, so don’t waste your money on a piece of equipment that will become a clothes hanger!

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About Author

Sharon Chamberlin

From an early age, Sharon was encouraged to participate in competitive sports including soccer, basketball, track, softball, and volleyball. She has been an athlete and fitness enthusiast ever since. She explains that her parents instilled in her a level of self-confidence that has touched everything she does. See my profile page for more information!

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