To find the right machine for you, be sure to try before you buy. Budget and midrange models can usually be found at Dick's Sporting Goods, Sears, Sports Authority, Walmart, and other discount and sporting-goods chains. Shop at sporting-goods specialty stores for the moderate to high-end models. Important factors to consider include these:
If you find a great deal online or at a discount store, check out the shipping and delivery costs and assembly policy before you buy it. Most machines weigh between 200 and 300 pounds. Freight delivery can be pricey and usually includes only getting the item off the truck so you will probably have to haul the machine inside on your own. You might be able to get delivery into your home for a bit more, but you'll still have to assemble it yourself. Some manufacturers recommend professional assembly, and at least one offers such a service for $120. Although specialty sporting-goods stores might have a higher sticker price, that might include delivery and assembly. If you order online and have to return it for any reason, it can be an added hassle.
Non-folding treadmills are about the size of a small couch. Folding treadmills are generally shorter than non-folding models, and they can be stored upright to save space. We've also seen some folding models that are very compact. Keep in mind that you will need to allow extra space around the treadmill for access. Manufacturers recommend anywhere from a 1- to 3- foot perimeter clearance with 3 to 7 feet behind the treadmill, so plan accordingly.
Consider your stride. If you have a long stride or you plan to run, a longer deck might be necessary-60 inches long by 20 inches wide is long enough for most runners. Try out a model in the store to make sure it fits your needs, especially if you have a longer stride. Walkers can get by with the shorter decks on some folding treadmills and many budget models.
Look for one that provides at least two to three years of coverage on major moving parts and a year for labor. Survey data on the probability of failure and repair costs showed that extended warranties are probably not a good deal.