There's nothing flashy about a treadmill. It doesn't have the pizazz of a spin bike or the musical score of a dance class. The beauty of a treadmill is in its simplicity. Virtually anyone who can walk can use a treadmill for a full-fledged workout. You can watch TV or a movie while using a treadmill. You can personalize the setting to slowly stroll or run full-out intervals. Last, and definitely not least, a treadmill offers a full-body workout with wide-ranging health benefits.
Whether you walk or run on a treadmill, you'll get an aerobic workout. As HelpGuide.org states, "Even just a few minutes of physical activity are better than none at all." Moderate exercise on the treadmill for 30 minutes per day, on most days of the week, will strengthen your heart, increase your endurance, and decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. If you have health problems, treadmill workouts can help. For example, a 2012 study of women with hypertension who participated in a 10-week treadmill walking program resulted in increased endurance, improved heart function and an enhanced quality of life.
Walking on a treadmill is well-tolerated by almost everyone, regardless of your fitness level and overall condition. Aerobic exercise on a treadmill increases bone growth, strengthens cartilage and enhances your overall musculoskeletal system. If you run on a treadmill, you'll burn more calories compared to most other indoor exercise machines, such as an exercise bike, making it easier to lose or maintain your weight. Running intervals on a treadmill can boost your endurance and fitness and aid in weight loss in a relatively short time.
If you want to reduce stress and anxiety, elevate your mood, stimulate your brain and perhaps even relieve your depression, treadmill workouts can help. MayoClinic.com explains that regular aerobic activity is a proven mood booster and stress reducer. In cases of mild to moderate depressions, walking or jogging helps chase away the blues in many cases.
While walking is a low-impact form of exercise that will help your joints, running is a high-impact form that can put too much stress on your knees, back and lower body. If you have knee or back problems, check with your doctor or trainer before running on a treadmill. If you are out of shape and want to start exercising, you also should check with your doctor and work with a trainer to devise a safe, effective treadmill routine.
- MayoClinic.com: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- ACE: Maximizing Your Treadmill Workout
- Spine-Health: Treadmills for Exercising and Pain Relief
- HelpGuide.org: Easy Exercise Tips
- PubMed.gov: Benefits of Intensive Treadmill Exercise Training on Cardiorespiratory Function and Quality of Life in Patients with Pulmonary Hypertension
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.