It might not give you the same burn as running up a set of stairs while wearing a weight vest or bouncing around in a cardio hip hop class for an hour, but the simple act of walking on a treadmill does more than you might think. For some people, this exercise is too basic, but if you're overweight or new to working out, it might be just your speed.
Despite its slow pace, walking is a healthy exercise ideal for people of all ages. More active people usually choose to jog or ride a bicycle, but the simplicity of walking makes it an ideal activity. Benefits of walking include lowering your blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, raising your good cholesterol levels, boosting your immune system and memory, burning calories and helping improve your mood.
Many people walk outdoors to add variety to their day and enjoy the scenery and fresh air, but if you choose to walk on a treadmill, you're likely interested in burning calories. The factors that help you burn calories are your weight, the speed at which you walk and the length of your workout. If you weigh 155 pounds and walk for an hour, you'll burn 141 calories when walking slower than 2 miles per hour, 232 calories at a moderate pace of 3 miles per hour and 352 calories when you maintain a 4-mile-per-hour pace.
Don't be discouraged if you have a number of pounds to lose and don't feel up to any other type of workout -- walking on a treadmill should give you results, but it will take time. If you want to increase the caloric burn of the workout, the simplest approach is to walk faster or for a longer duration, but the treadmill also allows you to adjust the incline of your walk. Try a minor incline of 1 percent, and then increase it as needed. The more incline you add, the faster you'll burn calories.
Other than staying out of the rain and watching TV while you walk, the major benefit of using a treadmill is the variety of settings and functions it offers. Treadmills typically allow you to track your speed, distance and the number of calories you burn during the workout, and many measure your heart rate when you hold designated handles. Adjusting your treadmill's settings allows you to add variety to the workout -- settings can include alternating stretches of slow and brisk walking, for example.
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.