Manual vs Motorized Treadmills: Pros and Cons

There are basically two varieties of treadmills – motorized and non-motorized (manual) treadmills.

The efforts and the output you get will be different based on the kind of treadmill on which you’re running.

While the manual treadmill requires you to put more effort while running or walking, the electric treadmill comes with better features and build quality.

What are Manual Treadmills?

The belt of a manual treadmill moves when your feet are in action against the deck.

So, the treadmill belt moves only when there is an action from your end (feet).

Therefore, you’ll need to expend more effort whether you want to run or walk on the non-motorized treadmill.

This has an added advantage over the electric running machines.

According to a study comparing the curved belt treadmill with a motorised treadmill vs outside ground running, it was found that runners who used the manual treadmill have found their heart rates were elevated into a higher zone.

So, they would get more benefits in less time.

Note: There are two types of manual treadmills – Flat belt and Curved-belt models. The flat-belt manual treadmills are not suitable for runners while the latter is good for both running and walking.

Pros of Manual Treadmills

  • No Electricity Required: This is the best selling-point of a manual treadmill. You don’t require electricity to run the machine. So, you can place it anywhere in your house or lawn.
  • Runs on Muscle Power: Running or walking on the machine requires more effort and it helps build your lower body muscles. You’ll ultimately burn more calories in less time.
  • HIIT Treadmill Workout: Generally, the athletic or professional sports people use these manual running machines as they provide moderate to high intensity workout.
  • Safe to Use: Since it starts/stops with your action, you don’t need to wear any safety cord in case you slip or fall off from the treadmill unlike the motorized treadmill. So, it is very safe to use, even with kids around.
  • Less Expensive: As there are no motor or high-end features, these manual machines come at a very affordable price of under Rs.10000.

Drawbacks of Manual Treadmills

  • Puts Stress on the Joints: Since the belt movement requires manual action from your feet, it puts more stress on your joints. And, if you’re already suffering with knee/hip pain, it would get even worse.
  • No Automatic Incline Option: If you want to set the incline option, then you’ll need to step off from the treadmill and manually increase the incline level. It spoils the mood of the runners as seen in many instances.
  • Less Sturdy: Most flat-belt manual treadmills come with poor construction and less weight limits. Whereas the curved-belt treadmills offer better build quality.
  • Can’t Run: Due to less study built quality, most manual treadmills are best suited for walking. If you want to run, prefer the curved-belt models only.
  • Lack of Features: Due to price constraints, you won’t have built-in workout programs, smartphone support etc…Most of the models just come with a display that shows basic details like time, speed, distance and calories.

What are Motorized Treadmills?

Like the name suggests, the motorised treadmills come equipped with an electric powered motor that automatically moves the belt running.

All you have to do is to walk/run against the moving belt, while increasing or decreasing the speed of the treadmill from the dashboard.

For best performance, it is recommended to choose a treadmill with at least 1.5 CHP (continuous horsepower) motor.

Pros of Motorised Treadmills

  • Less Strain on the Joints: Since the belt is rotated using the motor power, you don’t have to strain your legs to start it.
  • 1-Click Adjustment of Speed & Incline: You don’t have to get down from the machine to adjust the speed or incline level of the treadmill. It can be done while you’re still walking/running with the click of a button.
  • Run or Walk (as you like): You can start walking or running, whatever you like, depending on your mood.
  • Awesome Workout Features: The dashboard features many built-in workout modes such as 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon etc….There are also other options like heart rate sensor, multimedia options etc…
  • Excellent for Longer Training Sessions: Unlike the manual treadmills, these can be used for extended periods of time.

Drawbacks of Motorised Treadmills

  • Requires Electricity: You have to place the treadmill near to an electrical outlet, which requires a higher voltage power with stabilizer support. Else, the machine would get damaged due to power fluctuations.
  • Safety: Since the motor moves continuously without your intervention, you may fall off the machine if you are distracted while working out on the treadmill.
  • Price: The price of the motorized treadmills for home use start from Rs.15000 and goes up to Rs.1,00,000 depending on the features and brand name. Those with least price usually come with under powered motors and medium built quality.

Which Treadmill is Better? Motorized or Manual?

The sole purpose of a treadmill is to give you a great cardio workout session.

However, you’ll need to choose the right treadmill according to your fitness goals and personal requirements.

The manual treadmill saves electricity and is budget-friendly.

But, it doesn’t mean that it suits everyone.

For those with a wide variety of workout requirements, a motorized treadmill fits the bill.

Though a bit costly when compared with manual running machines, you’ll not get bored of repetitive use of the machine due to many advanced workout programs available on your dashboard.

These high-end automatic treadmills also come with entertainment features like music support, heart rate monitor, tablet holder etc…

Still if you’re confused on what type of treadmill to choose, then simply head over to your local gym or health club and experience both the non-motorized treadmill and the electric treadmill for yourself.

And, then choose the one that you think suits your body requirement and fitness goals.

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