The concept of a treadmill is great if you want to do a running workout indoors. Did you know that the first treadmill was used in the 1st century AD, when the Ancient Romans created one for manipulating heavy objects?
Over time, the concept evolved and the first consumer treadmills were brought to life in many modern forms. Nowadays, there are many types of treadmills but the main categorization falls under two categories: manual and electric treadmills.
In today’s guide, we will be going over the advantages and disadvantages of both types, helping you choose a manual treadmill or a motorized one.
Choosing between treadmills might seem like a simple decision, but that is only until you see the plethora of options on the market nowadays. While some of you are thinking that motorized treadmills are obviously better, that is not necessarily the case.
Overall, the choice depends on your personal needs and preferences. There is absolutely nothing to say to the fact that electric treadmills have a lot of benefits, but manual ones come at more affordable prices and have advanced systems that put you in motion and set you up for a good calorie burning session.
In order to choose the best treadmill for your needs and money, you really need to take a long and hard look at what your expectations are, and what you want to do with it. In general, paying a bit more for a treadmill with an electric motor is the standard choice, but there are lower-priced treadmills which offer the best of both worlds, too.
Below, we are going in detail on both types.
As we said above, a manual treadmill is a machine that does not use an electric motor to be moved. Instead, it is set on a slight incline powered by a belt that moves it along with your walking or running motion.
Now, let’s start with manual treadmills and list their main benefits and downfalls.
Advantages Of Manual Treadmills
The biggest benefit of a manual treadmill is the fact that it is cheaper than an electric one. There are so many people buying these machines solely because of that, and the fact that they can still use them to walk or jog. So, if you are on a tight budget but still want a treadmill to help you burn calories or get into shape, a manual one can be a great option.
Another point worth considering is the lack of maintenance that will be required if you choose a manual treadmill. Even though they can break down, even when they do, the repair will likely cost less compared to tearing apart a motor or even changing it.
The weight of manual treadmills is not as big as motorized ones. The lack of a motor is why these machines are lighter than their electric counterparts, and having a lightweight treadmill at home means that you can move it around, whether it’s for cleaning or relocating it.
Lastly, manual treadmills are generally safer than ones with electric parts in them. They simply work by using your own body as the main momentum, and are raised on an incline. As you take each step, the belt begins to move, and the faster you move the quicker the treadmill will move.
Disadvantages Of Manual Treadmills
As we said above, manual treadmills are lightweight, cost less and require little to no maintenance with cheaper replacement parts in case of a breakdown. However, they come with their own set of disadvantages.
First in the list is the inability to run at an intense pace. Manual treadmills are generally constructed for walking or light running, and building up the right momentum for an intense run is simply not as comfortable as it is in a motorized treadmill.
In addition to this, manual treadmills can be hard on your joints. In order for them to work, they need to be raised on an incline, which means that if you have bad ankles or joint pain, it might cause a lot of strain. Over time, problems like these may also arise, which is why some people are not considering them.
Electric or motorized treadmills are machines that have an electric motor to power them, which means that all of the traction is powered by the machine itself, and not you or your movement. This allows for a lot of additional features, such as change of pace, incline/decline options etc.
Below, we are listing the pros and cons of electric treadmills.
Advantages Of Electric Treadmills
The main benefit of electric treadmills is that they really free you up from any tension, meaning that you should never worry about forcing the machine to move, so that the belt moves you as a response. Therefore, electric or motorized treadmills are easier to run on.
Another thing worth mentioning are the built-in features of these treadmills, which allow you to do many different workouts. For instance, you can walk, jog, run or do all of these uphill or downhill. In today’s modern electric treadmills, there are even programs that can mix between all of these activities and help you burn more calories by changing the rhythm of your workout.
Practical in many ways, electric treadmills let you change the way you are moving based on your mood. For instance, if you are experiencing joint pain, you can set it in a decline position and not put that much pressure on your knees and joints. If you want to feel like you have gone on a hike, you can take things up a notch and put it in an incline, which will put more pressure on your entire body but also help you burn more calories.
Disadvantages Of Electric Treadmills
We are sure you thought about the cost of having both treadmills at home. With an electric treadmill, you will obviously pay more and get bigger electricity bills. And while a treadmill like this won’t be that expensive if you use it moderately, the cost can add up over time which also makes it a more expensive investment in every possible way.
If we add up the cost of maintenance and the initial cost which are both bigger in the case of motorized treadmills, it is evident that their cost is the biggest disadvantage.
The next part is where we answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the topic of choosing a manual versus an electric treadmill.
Which is easier to use?
Manual treadmills are very easy to use. All you need to do is get on them and push your feet on the belt, and they start moving. Sometimes, you may be required some extra effort to get it moving, but this is a thing of habit. The console is generally very simple and can tell you the distance, speed and calories burned.
Motorized treadmills are more complicated. You just can’t get on and go – there will be some navigating required to get moving, but they are more precise thanks to the variety of workout programs available.
Which is better for walking?
Manual treadmills are a great option for walkers. With such a machine in your home, you will keep a more regular pace, so exact speed is not as important. Also, the treadmill does not need to be as sturdy as when you are running your full sprints.
Even though motorized treadmills are also great when walking, they are more expensive and usually a better fit for people who want to speed things up and walk or at least jog.
Which is better for running?
If you want to run on your treadmill and not slow jog at best, you need a motorized treadmill. They are the best for running, and the maximum speed is always faster than what most people will need. Anything up to 12mph (which is 5 minutes per mile) is great, and not many people can go that fast. The ability to change different running speeds can also help you burn more calories and lose weight faster.
Manual treadmills are only good for walking and slow jogging. The problem lies in the belt and the overall less sturdy construction.
Which is easier to assemble and move?
Manual treadmills require little assembly. They are often just folded, which makes them very simple to use. When your manual treadmill arrives, you can fit it in a small room and you won’t need any electrical socket nearby to worry about, which is another thing to consider. Also, the weight of manual treadmills is lower, so moving or relocating them won’t be a problem.
With motorized treadmills, you are dependent on a socket and need to go through a 20-minute process to set things up before you start your workout. Also, you might need someone with technical knowledge to properly set the machine up. Most of the motorized treadmills are heavy, and they require at least two people to carry them indoors. Also, they generally need to stay where they are fully assembled.
Which will last longer?
There is no doubt that each treadmill type is prone to damage and potential problems, but manual ones tend to be more faulty compared to motorized ones because of the belt and rollers that can get damaged and need constant lubrication.
Motorized treadmills, on the other hand, come with a lot of electrical parts but even with that, are generally more sturdy. Most of the manufacturers offer warranties on the electronics, so the treadmills are really built to last.
Which is better for young, and which for elderly people?
Elderly people who want to walk or jog slowly can use a manual treadmill as their go-to option. They won’t have to pay a lot, will require less maintenance when using the treadmill this way, and won’t have to worry about paying more electricity or similar things.
If you are young or want to use your treadmill for walking, jogging and running fast , you need a motorized treadmill. It is undoubtedly a better fit, setting each walking or running motion automatically through the use of a motor.
Which is better for people with excess weight?
If you are overweight and want to buy a treadmill, we advise you to go for an electric one. The reason is simple – most of the manual treadmill options come with specific weight capacity (which is around 200 to 225 pounds on average), while most of the electric treadmills can go up to 260, 300 or 350 lbs depending on the model.
Even if you find a manual treadmill that suits your weight, you should know that if you are near that maximum, you will need more effort to keep it moving, whether you are walking or slow running. Doing the latter might also put the machine to its limits and potentially damage it in the long run.
Have you chosen your treadmill yet?
At the end of the day, choosing between an electric and manual treadmill is an individual decision. There isn’t really any right or wrong answer as both of the machines are effective. You only need to consider their benefits and pitfalls in order to make a decision that works for you, but also account factors such as budget, portability, flexibility, maintenance and/or any existing physical issues that you may have.
All of these are things that you know best, and ones that will help you find the right model for your needs.