For a lot of us, treadmill invokes memories of love-hate relationship. The love comes from the fact that it can be a great exercise tool that has effective benefits for all seasons. You would, at the same time, hate it too, as it can get extremely monotonous and you do not extract much fun by running on a machine indoors for prolong durations, every day or most days of the week. For this reason, it also has a moniker – ‘the dreadmill’. It is during these tough times that you need to remind yourself of the ultimate goal you are after and you only have one buddy to help you with it.
In order to use a treadmill effectively, it is useful to start slowly and not to rely on the handrails. A treadmill runner should get familiar with the device, wear proper footwear, and maintain a good posture. A few stretching exercises before, and looking straight while running may also be helpful to avoid losing balance.
These exercise machines amazingly simulate the activities of running or walking when outdoors, giving you a motorized option of walking or running. They also help improve your cardiovascular health, whilst you walk away on the revolving belt in a cyclical fashion. These days, most of the treadmills come with standard digital features and consoles that allow its user to adjust the speed and incline programs to match the specific fitness goals that you might have. Having said that, it is imperative that you know how to properly use this equipment, failing which, it may lead to a short-term or even long term injury.
The execution is pretty simple. You just need to synchronize your body movement with the moving belt that you are walking or running on. These machines are meant to burn he same amount of calories as you would expect whilst walking or running in a garden or park, except for the incline uphill feature. Uphill running or walking is relatively easier on a treadmill than in a real life situation and on the same grade of terrain.
Modern day treadmills are more technologically advanced with shock absorbing and springier features. Some other functions include internet and Bluetooth connectivity so you can virtually enjoy a walk or a run with people from all over the globe in different terrains and ‘outdoor conditions’. They also come with added personal training programs (over hundred or so) to suit your style of exercise plan.
Whenever you use a treadmill, you need to consider certain aspects for optimum performance, longer usage and staying safer at all times. Let us look at them in detail.
When you turn on the treadmill, always ensure that your feet are placed on either side of the belt (and not on it). The next step should be stepping on the belt when you are certain that it is moving at a speed that is slow and safe (generally 1 or 2 miles per hour). All the newer versions of treadmills offer safety features that do not let you start off at higher speeds for safety reasons; however, you shouldn’t rely on them and always take necessary precautions during the start up. One such precaution includes attaching the safety kill switch that can be attached comfortably to a part of your clothing (if there is one) before you press the “Start” button.
No Reliance On Handrails
As a new user (or when you are resuming work out on a treadmill after a long time), you can hold on to the handrails for good balance. As soon as you regain balance and are comfortable walking on your own, you should stop using the handrails. You get more traction and benefit and get a more natural rhythm when you swing your arms freely whilst you walk or run on a treadmill. The handrail holding position (holding on to the front rails and slightly leaning back) is often referred to as the water-skier position. This position makes you work more aggressively and is more stressful for your elbow joints particularly when the machine is on an incline position. Moreover, you are not burning enough calories and not the one that is being displayed on the console panel.
On the other hand, if you are unsure of your balance, then always hold the handrails lightly, so you remain steady and secure whilst on the move.
It is only natural that your feet are followed by your eyes, whether you are walking on a road or a treadmill. Always focus on what is ahead of you, and you can achieve this by generally walking straight ahead rather than stumbling or straying to the side. Moreover, never get distracted when you are on the machine. Do not look around or on the sides to respond to someone who may be calling your name or seeking your attention. This can throw you off balance, make you fall and lead to an injury.
Disoriented At First
Do not be worried or startled if you feel dizzy during the first few times you step down from a treadmill after use. This is your brain and body trying to make sense of the sudden stopping of the belt under your feet. This vertigo like feeling doesn’t last long and may only happen a few times, before you get the hang of running or walking on this machine.
A good pair of walking or running shoes that fit your feet comfortably are a pre-requisite for an effective treadmill workout. This also helps keep your feet safe during those high speed workouts. Comfortable trainers go a long way in providing you an efficient and relaxed workout. When you invest in a treadmill, also make sure you buy a pair of walking shoes as well (unless you have one available).
No Reading When On Treadmill
This is stating the obvious, but a lot of people still do it. Reading whilst walking on a treadmill is fraught with danger, as you are exposed to losing your balance and may fall or stumble off from the side or worse, your back.
You need to get used to the treadmill, regardless of whether you are a new user or a pro. The speed and incline adjustments are the basics of any treadmill and you need to know these settings at the back of your hand. If you are ever in doubt, always check with the salesperson or the instructor at the gym, before using the machine.
Always perform 5-10 types of dynamic stretches and warm-up to loosen up your joints and muscles before getting on the treadmill.
You should walk or run on a treadmill with your back straight, shoulders flexed out in a broad position and your sight set straight. Your arms and legs should work in a synchronized manner to give you a rhythm that is sustainable.
The more you use the treadmill, the better the benefits. There is no rocket science in that. 30 minutes of cardio exercise for 5 days a week is good enough to prevent heart related diseases. Anything over 60 minutes will assist you in your weight loss endeavors.
Using a treadmill effectively and efficiently is directly linked to your physical strength and endurance as well as mental attitude. If your mind can control your body and make it use the treadmill properly, you are bound to reap great benefits over a period of time. Running gives you immense gratification and that too in no time, if you start enjoying it. Stamina building and body endurance demand time and effort. These can easily be built and sustained whilst using a treadmill.
The more you run, the better your relationship gets with the treadmill. You stop seeing it as a boring and hideous oversized machine, and more like an ally that will help you achieve your health and core strength training. Besides the benefits and results associated with health and fitness, you also see a noticeable difference in your mood and mental approach.
The various settings are priceless and let you stay on track or even exceed your expectations when you start achieving different goals and targets. The uphill, incline and hill workouts are great if you are looking to push yourself. You will never achieve this on your own when you are walking or running outdoors.