Your Guide to Buying a Manual Treadmill vs. a Motorised Treadmill

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Your Guide to Buying a Manual Treadmill vs. a Motorised Treadmill

With gym equipment becoming more accessible in the home, the treadmill has become a popular way of keeping fit from the comfort of personal surroundings, such as a home. It is, by design, relatively easy to use and can be used alongside the luxury of watching television or listening to music, saving the hassle of running outdoors in unseasonable weather conditions. There will be no disruption to a workout when investment in a good-quality and durable treadmill is made.

There are hundreds of choices of comfortable and easy to use models, and a convenient way to browse the various models is through the range available on eBay. Buying online also gives you the option to compare models from the comfort of your own home There are some considerations to be made first of all however, the key one being whether to either invest in a manual or a motorised machine.  

The Basics: Manual and Motorised Treadmills

The manual treadmill is powered by the user themselves; they have control over the belt to rotate it around the treadmill at their desired speed. This naturally gives a decent workout to the lower body as all the force is coming from the legs and not the machine.

The alternative and more popular machine used is the motorised treadmill. It comes with a built-in motor so the belt revolves around itself when the individual walks or runs at the desired pace. This will give the desired workout against whatever speed setting is selected. These motorised treadmills are most frequently used in the commercial gyms, due to their advanced features and usability for frequent gym users.

Advantages of a Manual Treadmill

As noted before, the main advantage of the manual treadmill is the cost factor. They are a lot more affordable than mechanical treadmills due to the lack of a motor, an element that also makes them more lightweight. If the treadmill is likely to be housed in different positions around the house or moving house is in the future plans, then this could be something to take into consideration. Although there are fold-away motorised treadmills on the market also, manual ones don’t have a bulky engine system which can be hard to store away after a completed your workout.

It is important to consider personal fitness in this choice. It is important to ask the following questions:

Why are you thinking of investing in a treadmill in the first place? A fair amount of manual treadmill users find that they are more suited to walking or slow jogging rather than running.

Are you on the comeback trail after an injury and need to slowly build up your lower body muscles in a safer environment at your own pace? If so, the manual treadmill could be the solution. The majority of manual treadmills come with handles which give you that extra support and confidence whilst exercising.

Manual treadmills are also considered to be safer than electronic machines as it is the individual who is in control of the belt’s speed. This means that the chance of an accident is minimised. Medical reports have shown that young children have a tendency to touch moving belts on treadmills which may cause severe friction burns as a result. If the machine is likely to be in a home that has children, make sure to take safety measures into consideration.

Disadvantages of Manual Treadmills

There are many disadvantages when it comes to manual treadmills, such as:

One of the main disadvantages of manual treadmills is the fact that the user is in control of the treadmill speed. All the exertion comes from the legs and back areas; there is a greater probability of causing injuries and stress on the joints. A common complaint is that it requires quite a strenuous effort to get the belt moving in the first place; putting some users off from even beginning their workout. However, this could be viewed as a positive, as it requires more effort to start and therefore burns off more calories within the training regime.

As the control of the belt speed is controlled by the user, this may subconsciously induce a slower run, meaning less of a workout and fewer calories burned. The electronic treadmill will keep a steady speed, maintaining a steady workload.

Manual treadmills don’t show how many miles have been run and the time it took. So, there is limited ability to measure or monitor your running exercise.

Advantages of Motorised Treadmills

The benefits of the electronically powered treadmills is evident with the technical superiority it holds over its manual predecessor. The belt being rotated around the treadmill by a motor means it is easier to concentrate more on the workout and not getting the machine up and running in the first place. Also, as they are generally heavier they are also more sturdy and durable, prolonging their use and giving the user more confidence to begin training on them.

They come with different settings which can enhance the work-out, located on a display screen on the front of the treadmill. These include:

  • An incline option (typically between 0 - 15%) which replicates the sensation of travelling up or down hills. This gives you a great alternative to normal running, building leg muscles and burning more calories.
  • The screen will also provide you with a speedometer which informs of the speed of the belt whilst you’re exercising.

A lot of mechanical treadmills now also come with set programmes built into the system, giving a predetermined regime to stick to which can measure progress against every time the user exercises. Another feature popular with higher-end exercise machines is a device called Heart Rate Control. This device actually controls the intensity of the treadmill in unison with a desired heart rate. It is important for efficient exercise to maintain an optimum heart rate and this allows you to do this without worrying about your own momentum.

Disadvantages of Motorised Treadmills

Generally speaking, some motorised treadmills can tend to be on the high side when it comes to price; especially ones with fashionable mod-cons built into the system such as touch-screen display and even televisions. They are also more likely to be heavier and larger which may cause problems when coming to positioning them in your desired position.

As they are electronically motorised, they need to be located next to a suitable main power supply or alternatively have to use an extension cable which could potentially become unsafe or displeasing to the eye. This will also make running them more expensive and less eco-friendly.

TIP: Remember also that some motorised machines can be powered by batteries, solving the problem of finding or creating space in the desired position in your home.

Which Treadmill is Right for You?

The type of treadmill to buy will depend on the individual’s circumstances and requirements. The manual one is obviously more affordable than its electronic counterpart as it doesn’t come with the most expensive part; the motor. However, the electronic one is much more professional and is a better option if it is used for regular training. It is important to take into consideration fitness needs for all that will be using the machine. Ask questions like:

What sort of machine is best suited for the users? This can be figured out by looking at:
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight

A heavier user will need a sturdier machine and a taller user will need a larger belt to work on. A balance is needed between not overspending on a product that doesn’t have the features needed and spending too little on a machine that is inadequate or not suited to the desired requirements.

Take note of where the treadmill will be positioned in the home – take notes of the measurements if buying online – and whether a power supply is nearby or not. Remember there are battery operated motorised treadmills and also fold-away ones available from a wide-selection of outlets as well.


Using a treadmill from the more secure and comfortable surroundings of your own home can be an enjoyable and resourceful way of keeping in shape. There are positive benefits of in the form of weight control, improved bone structure and a general healthier lifestyle. However, to ensure the user reaps these rewards, it is important to find the right machine for the individual, either manual or motorised, by searching the wide variety available on websites such as eBay and isolating the type wanted.

Don’t be drawn into unnecessary designs that push the price of a treadmill up, but won’t actually enhance your cardiovascular workout. Try to and check reviews of chosen model/s from different sources to gain a more informed outlook. If you do use eBay, specify your preference of treadmill by typing it into the search box and scouring the results. Also try to safeguard the purchase by checking the seller’s history and positive/negative feedback score. Don’t be anxious of asking them a question via email if unsure of any details, no matter how big or small the query may be. Also keep in mind – because of the potential hefty weight and size of the treadmill – it may be difficult to have it delivered to your desired location. The postage cost could potentially be a significant cost, or the seller may simply have the item listed as ‘collection only.’

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