Whether you're walking or running on a treadmill, you're burning calories while exercising your lower body and core. During this type of workout, however, you might not use your arms as much as you could, especially if you keep them lightly swinging at your sides or use them to support yourself by hanging onto the handles. To make the most of the workout, incorporate weights for your arms while on the treadmill.
The easiest way to incorporate an arm workout in your treadmill walk or run is to pump your arms vigorously. It might be tempting to hang onto the treadmill or thumb through a magazine while walking, but if you do so, you're not maximizing your time. Bend your arms at the elbows and pump them in time with your stride; through this basic workout, you're using the weight of your arms as resistance.
Many gyms have wrist weights that you can strap on to intensify the workout for your arms and shoulders. Wrist weights come in small increments, and are usually between 1 and 3 pounds. While that amount might seem minimal, it's often enough to provide significant resistance to your arms during an exercise such as running on a treadmill or attending an aerobics class. Start with a small weight, and if you feel it's not enough, gradually increase the weight.
If you don't have access to wrist weights, small dumbbells are acceptable to hold while walking or running on a treadmill. As with the wrist weights, you don't need to use a heavy weight to provide a challenging workout to your arms. Begin within the 1- to 3-pound range, but if you have a strong upper body and this weight isn't enough, increase the weight in 1-pound increments.
The American Council on Exercise warns that people should typically use wrist weights between 1 and 3 pounds, as using heavier weights can result in stress and pain in your muscles and even your elbow and wrist joints. Wrist weights are preferable to dumbbells, as some people can experience an increase in blood pressure from gripping dumbbells tightly for an extended period of time. Avoid the dumbbell option if you suffer from blood pressure issues.
- American Council on Exercise: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks if Individuals Hold Dumbbells in Their Hands While Doing Step Aerobics or Other Cardio Activities?
- FitDay: Working Out with Wrist Weights
- Diet and Fitness Resources: Ankle/Wrist Weight Exercise Review
- NutriSystem: Calories Burned During Exercise, Activities, Sports and Work
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.