The Trusty Treadmill
Once you get used to the feeling of the ground moving beneath your feet, you can truly appreciate walking and running on a treadmill. The treadmill is obedient and will keep the speed and level of incline steady. Intensity is determined by the speed and incline settings. You can either control the settings yourself through the manual mode or experiment with the preprogrammed workouts. Many home models will allow you to program your own workouts and keep them in memory so you can repeat them.
Here's another bonus about using a treadmill: You can choose to run or to walk. If you are a runner who wants to walk on the treadmill but have difficulty elevating your heart rate, walk your fingers over to the inclination control and press “up.” Your heart rate will go up quickly in response to even slight incline changes such as 1 to 2 percent. Do not focus so much on your heart rate that you forget about your muscles, which may not be used to a higher inclination. Increase the incline gradually and give your muscles time to adjust. The muscles used while walking on a high incline are different from those used when running.
If the increase in the incline doesn't agree with your hips, knees, or ankles, but you still want to elevate your heart rate while walking, wear a backpack and put some light weight in it. You can use a telephone book or weight plates. But use small weights such as 1 to 5 pounds. Just carrying that seemingly small amount will elevate your heart rate. It will also give you an appreciation for what it would feel like if you weighed that much more and had to carry it around with you all the time.
The treadmill makes for an efficient workout because it eliminates the distractions that outdoor exercise can pose (traffic, road debris, etc.) and allows you to maintain intensity. A good treadmill has a shock-absorbing pad built into the platform that makes the force absorbed by the body gentler than what your body would absorb from concrete or asphalt pavement outdoors. You should avoid holding the handrails continuously during exercise; use them mostly to steady yourself or regain your balance.
Is it worth it to use the fat-burning setting on my treadmill?
No. By using this setting, you will exercise at a lower intensity. Even though you burn higher percentages of fat, rather than glucose (sugar), when you exercise at a lower intensity, the bottom line is that the harder you work out, the more calories you burn, and the more calories you burn, the more fat you burn overall.
Before using a treadmill, you must learn how to control it. After all, it's a self-propelled machine that can get ahead of you if you're not prepared. Follow these guidelines to ensure your safety:
Know where the stop button or the emergency pull cord is located.
Practice grabbing the handrail and straddling both feet so that they rest on the nonmoving side panels. Then stop the machine or turn the intensity down before you put your feet on the central part of the treadmill again.
Do not look directly down at your feet. Stay focused and avoid turning your body, even if your kids are calling you.
A moving treadmill can be dangerous to curious children, pets, and so on. Keep them away from it, and keep the operating key out of reach when the machine is not in use.
Position the back of the treadmill away from a wall so that even if you slip on the treadmill, you don't have to worry about hitting anything solid.
Begin each treadmill session by walking slowly for 5 minutes. Then gradually increase the speed and inclination to your desired levels. Most treadmills have display settings — for your speed, inclination, the distance covered, and approximate calories burned — that will entertain you while you walk or run. You can use the information to challenge yourself by keeping track of your progress. Pace is another motivating unit of measure.