The American Council on Exercise reports that running is a great way to maximize fat and calorie burn in a short period of time. Although it may seem like all you have to do is lace up your shoes and hop on the treadmill, take some time to develop a program that's right for you. Consult a physician before you begin, wear properly fitted shoes and eat a diet of energy-making nutrients for the best results.
Before You Begin
There are many benefits to running on a treadmill. You won't have to worry about traffic, bad weather and nasty road conditions. You can also monitor your speed, distance and heart rate with ease, and adjust the incline to simulate hills. As you run, keep your shoulders down and your head level. Lean slightly forward at the ankles, and avoid bouncing. Let your foot hit the ground heel first, and push off with the toes. And although it may be tempting to pound out five or six miles on your first day -- especially if you are already accustomed to regular exercise -- keep your early distances shorter in duration.
Successful treadmill runners often walked first, so get yourself used to exercising on a treadmill by taking several brisk walks. Begin by setting the speed to 3.5 mph and the incline to 0. As you walk, adjust the speed up or down to best match your regular brisk walking pace. You can also try increasing the incline -- the higher it goes, the more challenging your walk should become. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise -- such as brisk walking -- so aim for 20 to 30 minutes per day for the first week.
Adding Run-Walks to the Workout
Once you feel comfortable walking briskly for prolonged periods of time, add brief running intervals at an incline of 0 to 1 to your routine. For example, after warming up for five minutes, try running for 30 to 60 seconds at a speed of 5 mph or more. Return to walking for five minutes, then repeat the short run, continuing until you have exercised for 30 minutes. Once you've finished this routine for a week, increase the amount of time you spend running and decrease the amount of time you spend walking -- for example, run for two minutes and walk for three minutes, repeating until 30 minutes have passed.
Running for 30 Minutes
After several weeks of gradually adding running to your treadmill workout, you will be ready to try a continuous 30-minute run. On your first continuous-run day, take it slowly; a speed of 5 to 5.5 mph and little or no incline is adequate. Give yourself a rest on the following day -- although it's tempting to hop right back on the treadmill, you could wind up exhausted and over-trained, a common running program problem. Keep in mind that fitter individuals will progress faster than others; nevertheless, don't give up. Running requires discipline and commitment.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.