Buying a treadmill but not sure where to start? It's not easy these days – home treadmills are always changing with new models coming out every year.

The good news is that treadmills continue to get better and better with more toys, fitness tracking tools and more.

The bad news is that you have more options than ever – which can lead to analysis paralysis. So to prevent that from happening to you, here are 7 main features you want to look for when buying a treadmill.

# 1 Motor

The motor is the heart of your treadmill. You want at least a 2.5 HP motor if you'll be walking and at least a 3.0 HP motor if you're planning on jogging.

Also take a look at the motor warranty to see how long you get. The motor warranty coverage can be a good indicator on the quality of motor you're getting.

# 2 Belt Size

Standard belts average about 20 by 55 inches in length. This should be fine for most regular height users.

However if you're planning on running or you're over 6 feet, you may want a longer 60 inch belt to give you more room to stretch out.

Also keep in mind that with a larger belt, you need a larger motor as too much belt and not enough motor can quickly burn out your motor.

# 3 Cushioning

You want solid protection for your joints, hips, knees and back. Most high quality brand models will have a good cushioning system so you do not have to worry too much as long as you're buying a well made, quality brand treadmill.

However some home treadmills are even offering adjustable cushioning these days – where you can turn the cushioning up or down depending on your preference, which is a handy feature.

# 4 Console

The console is important because it's basically what you'll be looking at as you walk or run. You have a tons of options in this area as there are lots of different consoles out there.

However there are a few things that are must-haves. First of all, you want to make sure the console is backlit. A non-backlit console can be hard to read, especially if lighting is not great in your workout area.

You also want a console that is well laid out and easy to understand with one-touch buttons and easy to reach stop-start buttons. You do not want to have to read a manual to figure out the console every time you workout.

Other nice features (but not essential) are console fans to keep you cool, one touch speed and incline change buttons and iPod docks with speakers.

# 5 Incline

Incline changes the slope of your treadmill and adds extra calorie-burning opportunities to your workout. Most treadmills give you up to 10, 12 or 15% incline options.

While walkers may be OK with a 10% maximum incline, it does not give you a lot of room to grow. You may find yourself quickly topping out at 10%. So having a higher incline of 12 or 15% gives you more room to grow as your fitness level improves (and it will!)

# 6 Heart Rate Monitor

Most home treadmills these days come with a hand grip pulse sensor to monitor your heart rate.

This is OK. However some people may prefer to use a wireless chest strap as it promises to give you more accurate results.

Some treadmills will come wireless chest strap compatible. And some treadmills may even throw in the chest strap for free, which is a great option.

# 7 Toys

This is the fun stuff. Treadmills have come a long way. Now you are not just getting a treadmill – you can get your own personal fitness trainer.

For example many treadmills give you some kind of online tracking option today where you can track your workouts over time, sync them with fitness apps and more. You can also download new workouts to your treadmill or get calorie counts based on your goals and food consumption.

You can also find treadmills with touch-screen consoles and even web browsers built into the console. So you can surf the net as you walk or run, very cool.

The range of options are endless here and these toys can help make your workouts a lot more fun and productive.

So those are 7 things to look for when buying a treadmill. Keep these things in mind and you're guaranteed to find a solid, well-built treadmill that will keep you in shape for years to come!