Are Treadmills a Good Form of Exercise?

Don't pass up the lines of treadmills at the gym.

Don't pass up the lines of treadmills at the gym.

Treadmills are the most popular form of home exercise equipment, "Consumer Reports" determined in 2009. Join the folks running on this human hamster wheel to experience incredible fitness benefits. Nicknamed the "dreadmill" by detractors, a treadmill is actually a superb piece of exercise equipment that helps exercisers of all levels burn calories, build stamina and strengthen muscles.

Ease

If you want easy, you want a treadmill. Walking doesn't require any special training, and most healthy bodies can do it with ease. When you need to boost your calorie burn or fitness level, use the treadmill's incline button to add hills or the speed button to break into a run. Whether you are an aspiring ex-couch potato or a hard-core marathoner, a treadmill works for you.

Cardio and Strength

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio exercise weekly to help prevent chronic disease and improve stamina. A treadmill helps you achieve this regardless of the weather, time of day or availability of sidewalks and trails. Boosting your heart rate by power walking or running improves your mood, strengthens your heart and lungs, and prevents chronic disease. A treadmill routine doesn't replace exercising with weights, but it does build strength in your legs and connective tissues -- improving your stamina and daily function.

Variety

You may think all you can do on a treadmill is move forward and go nowhere fast, but the machine offers lots of variety for your workouts. You can do an easy recovery walk or an all-out, hard-core run. Steady paces or intervals, in which you alternate a fast pace with a recovery pace for short periods of time, are easy to do on a treadmill because you control the speed. You can do inclines varying from zero percent to 15 percent on most commercial models. Do one to five minutes of treadmill work between sets of weight training to create a circuit routine. You can even change up your workout by going backward or shuffling sideways on the belt. If you have no idea how to change around your routine, look for a treadmill with preprogrammed workout routines that can involve hill, heart rate zone or weight-loss training plans.

Safety

If you shy away from walking or running outdoors because concrete or asphalt are your only options, use the treadmill to get in a quality workout. The treadmill provides a forgiving surface, especially for people with joint issues or for those carrying a few extra cupcake pounds. For beginning exercisers, a treadmill is a good form of exercise because you can slow down or speed up as your body demands. You can also quit if you feel you are overdoing it -- not something you can do if you ambitiously hiked 3 miles from home.

 

About the Author

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.

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