American Council On Exercise Research Makes Treadmill Shopping a Walk in the Park

Posted: May 09, 1996 in

SAN DIEGO - More people are going nowhere fast since the treadmill became the most popular piece of home exercise equipment three years ago. Now, research in the current issue of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) publication, ACE FitnessMatters helps shoppers get in stride with the top five models.

The research will be especially helpful to shoppers motivated by a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reporting that treadmills burn as much as 40 percent more calories than five other exercise machines.

The "Trotter 510" ranked at the top of machines, scoring 87 of a possible 100 points. Other top five finishers were the "True 500 OP" (86 points), "PaceMaster SX-Pro" (79 points), "StarTrac 900" (75 points) and the "Landice 8700P" (73 points).

ACE tapped the fitness research and consulting firm, ExerTrends, to conduct the research, in which 12 consumers ranked 10 best selling treadmills in the price range of $2,000 - $3,500. These are considered by many equipment dealers to be close to fitness club machines in terms of durability and features.

Key ranking points included construction, mechanical function and warranty; ease of use; impact cushioning; noise; smoothness of operation and appearance.

According to the study, the "guts" of the machine should work well, since home treadmills should last five or more years, and the warranty should be checked for fineprint regarding maintenance and specifications, as well as length of coverage. Generally, the longer the warranty, the better the materials in such key areas as the belt and deck of the machine.

Incline or grade is a key factor in making a treadmill workout more strenuous. Beginning exercisers may find a 10 percent maximum grade challenging, while experienced exercisers may need a 15 percent grade to push fitness levels. The machine should be easy to work, with information and features, including pre-set programs, provided in formats both average and advanced exercisers desire.

Cushioning can also prove crucial since impact on the joints becomes a significant factor as people grow older. Those with joint or orthopedic problems want to be especially mindful of cushioning, which is achieved in various ways on different machines. While there will be a certain amount of vibration from the motor, the treadmill should remain relatively stable at various speeds and grades. Noise of the machines tested ranged between 62 - 72 decibels during operation.

The study noted the Trotter 510 was extremely well built with the best warranty of those tested, while the True 500 OP earned top marks for cushioning, quietness and lack of vibration. The PaceMaster SX-Pro scored well in construction and technical areas, as did the Landice 8700P, which also received high marks for its motor and electronics. The StarTrac 9000 was found to be better than average in all areas.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

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