Cardio Exercise Equipment: Treadmills

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Cardio Exercise Equipment: Treadmills

Treadmill is the most popular machine for most to use. As a matter of fact, if you frequent any gym, you will probably see more treadmills in the cardio section than any other cardiovascular machine. Treadmills are the motorized equivalent of walking or running in place. You simply keep up with a belt that’s moving under your feet. Treadmill workouts burn about the same number of calories as walking or running outdoors. The only exception seems to be running uphill. When you incline the treadmill to simulate running uphill, it’s somewhat easier than running up real-life hills of the same grade. But walking uphill on a treadmill is virtually the same as walking uphill outdoors.

treadmill cardio workout

treadmill cardio workout

First time on a treadmill

When you first try a treadmill, you may find your balance challenged as a result of the movement of the belt. It is important to start by holding onto the treadmill handles. As you gain confidence and your balance improves, you can let go and move your arms as though you were walking down the street. Start with walking and work on increasing speed on a flat surface until you feel comfortable with the speed and balance. This will allow your muscles’ proprioceptors (sensors that detect the various forces placed on the body) to prepare for the increases in speed and incline that you choose to implement.

All treadmills come with a safety strap that you can clip to your shirt. This will automatically stop the treadmill if you should ever fall. After you are finished with your first workout on a treadmill, stop the treadmill, hold onto the rails, and stand still for a couple of minutes until you feel your equilibrium return. Some people feel a little light-headed until they get used to the motion of walking in one place.

Treadmill workout options

A lot of workout options are available when working out on a treadmill. Most treadmills have speed and incline variables offering you the opportunity to vary your intensity throughout your routine. You can simulate outdoor workouts and add challenge or modification to your workout by using these variables. These options allow you to work toward your conditioning goals while enhancing your cardiovascular response and burning calories.

treadmill - running uphill

treadmill – running uphill

You can also do interval conditioning on a treadmill, setting up rest periods at lower intensities between high-intensity bouts of exercise. Interval conditioning is a great way to train your body to work at higher intensities for longer periods of time to increase your cardiovascular performance and burn more calories in the long run.

Pros and cons of using a treadmill

Using a treadmill can erase some of the “cons” about walking and running. Treadmills can be a great way to get in some cardio, but they certainly aren’t perfect. If you love running but dislike some of the cons of running outside, then a treadmill may be your solution. Here are some pros/cons of using a treadmill:

Pros of Treadmills

  • Treadmills allow you to run or walk indoors on your time schedule. This eliminates issues like bad weather, being robbed, or being eaten by a bear.
  • It can be an effective way to get cardio/burn calories.
  • Some treadmills can fold under beds and/or take up minimal floor space.

Cons of Treadmills

  • They tend to be expensive compared to other cardio machines.
  • Treadmills can cause high impact on your joints/knees/hips. If you have knee problem try using elliptical trainer instead.
  • Treadmills can be one of the more dangerous methods of electronic exercise (countless people have been injured using one).
  • Most use a motor, which means it will consume small amounts of electricity.

Proper form during treadmill workout

The following guidelines will you help keep proper form during your treadmill workout and get the most out of your routine.

  • Footwork. As your foot comes forward and your heel strikes the platform, raise your toes and roll forward onto the outside of your foot (but keep the entire shoe sole on the platform). As your foot passes under your body, straighten your knee and press down on the platform with the ball of your foot, maintaining pressure until your toes leave the platform.
  • Hip movement. Allow your hips to rotate naturally with the forward and backward movement of your legs. Concentrate on keeping your shoulders relaxed and facing forward.
  • Arm swing. Let your arms swing naturally by your sides in opposition to your legs in the same forward and backward direction as your hips and legs. When increasing speed, bend your arms at a slight right angle and swing them faster in rhythm with your legs.

Muscles in action

When you are walking or running on a treadmill, the major muscles in motion are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteals, as well as the gastrocnemius (large calf muscle), anterior tibialis (shin muscle), and ankle joint. As in all upright activities, the abdominal muscles and back extensors are involved to keep your torso erect, and the hip abductors and adductors are involved to keep your gait solid.

Closing thoughts

The treadmill is probably the most popular piece of exercise equipment in the gym today. Most of us will choose this machine as the first choice for doing cardio training. Treadmill exercise is convenient, effective, and efficient. You can work out at your own pace, weather isn’t a problem, and, with a variety training options available neither is boredom. Put on your walking or running shoes and get moving!

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