Treadmills offer the convenience of being able to work out during any season and in any weather. If you’re using the treadmill with the goal to lose weight, incorporate intervals, which are short bursts of intense running followed by a slow jog or walk for recovery. Researchers at East Tennessee State University found that those who participated in high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, had a higher resting metabolic rate for 24 hours after exercising, meaning they burned more calories.
When you step on the treadmill, immediately attach the emergency shut-off key to your clothing before turning on the machine. Because of the high speeds associated with interval training, it’s important to have that safety mechanism in place. Turn on the treadmill and increase the pace to 3.5 mph while keeping the incline set to zero. Walk for three to five minutes to warmup before beginning the intervals.
The level of high intensity for this training will vary depending on the person’s fitness level. Beginners might prefer to increase the pace to a brisk walk, around 4 mph, while those with a higher fitness level can increase the pace to anywhere from 6 to 8 mph. The talk test is a commonly used way to gauge cardio intensity. When you’re working at low intensity, you’ll be able to carry a conversation. During the high-intensity portion of the intervals, you should not be able to carry a conversation. Instead, focusing on your breathing while walking or running as fast as you can. Maintain this pace for 30 to 90 seconds, depending on your endurance, then slow the treadmill belt.
The level of low intensity requires returning the treadmill speed to the warmup pace of 3.5 mph for beginners or to a light jog of around 4.5 to 5 mph for advanced runners. Recover for approximately one to two minutes, but do not allow your pulse to return to the normal resting rate before running the next interval. As you progress, your recovery period can shorten. Repeat the high-low intervals for six to eight sessions, until you feel like you cannot complete around round. Follow it up with a three- to five-minute cool-down.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 minutes per week of intense physical activity. However, do not engage in HIIT on consecutive days -- allow at least 24 hours between treadmill sessions to allow your body to recover.
Because intervals are such an intense workout, it puts a lot of strain on the cardiovascular system. Certain people might be at risk for a heart attack or stroke, so discuss the exercise with your health care provider before beginning this treadmill program. You should also talk to your doctor if you have joint problems, arthritis, high blood pressure or are older than age 60. Even for young, fit runners, the activity can be overly strenuous. Start slowly to avoid hurting your muscles, tendons or bones. If you’re unsure of your stamina, begin with just two rounds of intervals during your first workout and increase the number, as well as the pace at which you run, as you progress.
Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park. She has a long career in print and web media, including serving as a managing editor for a monthly nutrition magazine and food editor for a Maryland lifestyle publication. She also owns an Etsy shop selling custom invitations and prints.