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The first treadmills were invented in 1875 to churn butter and it wasn't until 1952 that the first medical treadmill was created. Since then, treadmills have come a long way. No longer used just to help diagnose medical conditions, treadmills are also a mainstay in the fitness industry. The primary types of treadmills are manual, motorized and hybrid.
Manual treadmills don't run on electricity; they only operate when you walk or run on their roller-based tread belts. As the American College of Sports Medicine reports, manual treadmills are commonly the lightest and least expensive type of treadmill in the marketplace. They tend however, to have fewer features, have narrower belts and are less sturdy than other treadmill types. They are best suited for walking as opposed to running, according to the ACSM.
Motorized treadmills have a rotating belt driven by an electric motor. The Treadmill Review HQ reports that motorized treadmills offer a variety of feature options. They also provide a smoother walking or running experience and are sturdier than manual treadmills. However, motorized treadmills cost more and take up more space than manual treadmills according to the Treadmill Review HQ.
Some treadmills combine the design of a conventional motorized treadmill with that of a stepper or elliptical machine.According to the the Treadmill Review HQ, hybrids of a stepper and treadmill are commonly called treadles. They offer the belted movement of a treadmill, on a duo foot track design of a stepper. Treadmill/elliptical hybrids have a similar structure as a treadle. However, unlike the treadle that has an up-and-down motion, treadmill/elliptical hybrids mimic the semi-circular movements of an elliptical on a moving foot surface.
There are a number of things to consider when selecting a treadmill. For example, both manual and motorized treadmills are available in different versions that are chiefly stationary, or that can be folded for easy storage. The user weight capacity of the treadmill and the size of the treadmill itself must also be considered. Additionally, as the ACSM points out, you should review performance factors such as the treadmill's speed range and incline options should be reviewed. The Sears treadmill buying guide recommends that you make sure that your treadmill has the amount of cushioning that will meet your comfort level, to help facilitate the best workout experience possible.