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Three Reasons to Try the Treadmill
- Convenience—Most people prefer not to exercise outside when it is cold, inclement, or dark. Even if you have access to an indoor track or a health club , finding a regular time to run during a busy week's schedule can be difficult. Owning a treadmill solves these problems. People who own one can exercise more often.
- Physical benefits—Exercising on a treadmill has wide-ranging benefits. As Gregory Florez, president of Chicago's First Fitness Inc., points out, "Walking or running on a treadmill has great cardiovascular value for the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. It is a very efficient way to lose body fat, and since it is a weight-bearing activity, it has musculoskeletal benefits, as well." Because running can help to reduce stress, you may feel calmer and more relaxed after your workout.
- Low-impact workouts—Despite all the benefits, years of walking or running can take its toll on feet, legs and hips, especially if you exercise on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete. Treadmills, particularly higher-end models with built-in shock absorption properties, can reduce the stress placed on your feet, legs, and joints.
Motorized vs. Non-motorized Treadmills
Making a Choice
- AC or DC motor—AC motors tend to be noisier. They also drain more power and often require a dedicated power source.
- Belt thickness—Two-ply belts are stronger and tend to curl less around the edges.
- Running surface length—A longer running "deck" will allow for a more natural stride and easier running motion.
- Speeds—If you plan to walk on your treadmill, 0.5 mph minimum to 6 mph maximum speed should be sufficient. If you plan to use it for running, 0.5 mph minimum to 8-12 mph is preferable.
- Shock absorption—Manufacturers use different techniques to absorb the shock to your feet and legs. These range from thicker running belts and thinner running decks to actual shock absorbers placed under the deck (more expensive) and "floating beds," where the treadmill floats on special springs (more expensive still). Remember that the higher the level of shock absorption built into the machine, the less wear and tear on your feet, legs, and joints.
- Incline—Treadmill inclines vary from 2% maximum incline to as much as 15%-25% maximum incline. The greater the possible degree of incline, the more varied a workout the machine can offer. In addition, check the machine's incline mechanism; electronic switch inclines are preferable to manually operated inclines. Automatic inclines (which are tied directly to and change automatically during your workout) can be nice, but expensive.
- Electronic feedback—Almost all motorized treadmills offer electronic speed, time, and distance displays. Most also include preset or customized workout programs. Your choices are limited primarily by your wallet. For more money, you can purchase models that store personalized programs and/or records of your workouts. Many machines also offer heart rate monitors, up to and including wireless monitors and monitors that set off an alarm if you are outside your target heart rate. Note, however, that many of these monitors can fall somewhat short of accuracy, with chest strap monitors likely to be the most accurate.
American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org
Consumer Reports.org http://www.consumerreports.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Healthy U http://www.healthyalberta.com
How to choose the perfect treadmill. Running Planet website. Available at: http://www.runningplanet.com/training/choose-perfect-treadmill.html. Accessed January 18, 2013.
Selecting and effectively using a home treadmill. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-a-home-treadmill.pdf. Accessed January 18, 2013.
Should you invest in a manual treadmill? Treadmill talk website. Available at: http://www.treadmilltalk.com/manual-treadmill.html. Accessed January 18, 2013.
Treadmill Comparison and Rating Guide. Treadmill talk website. Available at: http://www.treadmilltalk.com/treadmill-comparison-and-rating.html. Accessed January 18, 2013.
Treadmill training versus outside running. Running Planet website. Available at: http://www.runningplanet.com/training/treadmill-versus-outside-running.html. Accessed January 18, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 01/2013
- Update Date: 01/18/2013