Big Treadmills For Big People

Published: 15th November 2009
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One of the best ways to lose weight is by running on a treadmill. Treadmills have become popular in the home for those who want to burn calories without having to go to a gym. The problem is, like with most exercise equipment and programs, the people who need them most are often the least likely to use them. That is likely why equipment manufacturers produce machines for a typical buyer, an average-sized fit person. This article explores some of considerations for a heavier person in choosing a treadmill.

Gym treadmills are commercial treadmills. This means that they are built to withstand heavy use and abuse for most of the day. Consequently, they come with warranties that cover such commercial use. Because these machines are heavily built, they can tolerate use by people weighing over 275 lbs. These machines cost at least $4,000.

Treadmills for home use cost less, from $500 - 2,000, but they generally are intended for people weighing under 275 pounds. These treadmills have smaller motors, narrower tread belts, and they are generally lighter. They work fine for most people, but are unlikely to withstand regular use by a heavier person.

Like with other things, you get what you pay for. However, a heavier person need not pay exorbitantly more than a smaller person if he or she knows what to look for. The quick way to simplify the choices is to determine the user weight capacity for the given treadmill. Big home treadmills typically have weight limits ranging from 300 to 500 lbs. It is unclear exactly how these capacities are determined, but the manufacturers probably don't have a room full of people running on treadmills until they break! The manufacturers' estimate is probably based on their desire to avoid warranty liability so it's probably a good guide for the buyer too.

That estimate often boils down to for a buyer is a stronger motor (probably at least 3.5 chp). "Chp" is an abbreviation for continuous horsepower, the power that the motor can produce over an extended times, not just at a given moment. The treadmill itself will also weigh more (at 250 pounds), due to a stronger frame. The tread belt will also probably be at least 20 inches wide in order to fit a wider person. Side hand rails also allow the bigger user get on an and off the treadmills and provide support while using it.


Robert Braun has been using, selling, and writing about treadmills for decades. For more information about treadmills, see

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