By Simon Gould
There is a big difference between manual and motorized treadmills and we don’t just mean the motor. From the cost to the type of exercise you can do on it. There are benefits you get on flat belt manual treadmills that you don’t find on electric ones. Here we go through what those benefits are if you’re considering buying one for yourself this year.
Manual treadmills cost a lot less. You can buy them for $100+. When you consider motorized treadmills cost upwards of $1,000+ that’s a big difference. The motor and associated parts is what increases the cost so much. Flat belt treadmills tend to have a simpler console. They’re generally smaller but still serve their intended purpose.
2. Designed for walking & jogging
The fact that they’re so cheap you wouldn’t expect them to last but many carry manufacture warranties. These aren’t as long as motorized treadmills but you may still get a year on the frame on some. For something that costs so little you can’t expect much of a warranty. They will require some assembly but are simple compared to more expensive treadmills.
These are great for people who mainly want to walk. They’re not suitable for running at such a speed. You can get some slow jogging out of a manual treadmill. They are suitable for people who want to avoid the bad weather outside or walking in their locality isn’t suitable. You would then have this treadmill in the house and you can get some exercise.
There are some that have inclines. These are usually selected by manually lifting the belt to another level. This can give your walks more of a challenge and burn more calories. If you’re elderly or don’t like to leave the house then some exercise can be had with a manual treadmill. The same as if you’re overweight then you’ll get some use, check the maximum user weights first.
The running surface can be quite small so if you’re tall or have a long stride then you will need to check the measurements. Otherwise they’re safer than motorized treadmills because you power the belt. When you stop, the belt stops. On a motorized treadmill the belt keeps going whatever you’re doing and accidents do occur with this issue.
Accidents and even fatalities occur every year in this country from motorized treadmills. The fact that the belt keeps moving even when you’re not on them is the primary cause. Friction burns are a painful result of someone falling with part of their body remaining on the moving belt. You don’t get these issues with a manual treadmill.
4. Low maintenance
With no motor pulling a belt around a deck to worry about, there’s really not much to worry about where maintenance is concerned. Notice I said low maintenance. If you notice the belt gets stuck or difficult to get going. It may need lubricating. Simply apply a small amount silicone oil between the belt and the deck. You can buy special treadmill lubricant cheaply.
You may want to clean the treadmill with a soft cloth, don’t use any chemicals. Vacuum around it to help prevent any dust getting into the gap between the belt and the deck when you vacuum your home. That’s it. There are no monthly or bi monthly tasks that you have with other treadmills. Manual ones are very simply and take care of them selves.
5. Burn more calories
Due to the user powering the belt yourself, you burn more calories on a flat belt treadmill than a motorized one. With an electric treadmill the belt is pushed beneath you, therefore it takes less effort to propel yourself. The difference in calorie burn is statistically significant. This is great for people who want to walk at home to lose weight.
6. Light and easy to store
My favorite flat belt manual treadmill weighs only 48 lbs and yet can take a maximum weight of 220 lbs. These means you can push or lift it anywhere you want. You wouldn’t need any help and it can be stored under a couch or bed as it folds. It even has wheels to make this easier. When it’s delivered you could carry it to any room you please, and take it with you on vacation.
7. No electricity needed
Electric treadmills have powerful motors that use a lot of electricity. Most manual treadmills don’t use any. It’s another cost you don’t have to bear that you do with their electric counterparts. Depending on how much you use a treadmill, the saving could be hundreds and more. If you’re only choosing to walk, you don’t need all the features you find on other treadmills.
They are usually very simple, you don’t get any fancy readouts or statistics like you get on electrical treadmills. You’ll be lucky to find a manual one that tells you speed and distance. In a way, I would recommend one if you’re thinking about exercising in the home because of the cost. At $100+ they’re not a big commitment.
If you find you use the treadmill a lot or are starting to get some good results, then you can invest in a motorized one. I personally have never tried a manual treadmill, I’ve always gone for electrical ones, I like to know how many calories I’ve burned and benefit from the workout programs. Whatever you go for you can get a workout from a manual one, but that’s about it.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here is a good selection of flat belt manual treadmills*