Treadmills are undoubtedly one of the most popular styles of home exercise equipment. It provides its users with an efficient and effective whole body workout which is easy to execute. Since walking or moving around on feet is easily achieved by many people in a simple fashion, treadmills prove to be an ideal choice for people of all age, size and conditions. It can lead up to a great exercise routine once you develop strength and endurance.
Treadmills have some typical disadvantages: they can be expensive and not affordable by everyone. They can get boring due to the monotony of their usage. It may have an adverse impact on the running form of the user, as opposed to those who run outside on the ground. Treadmills can reduce your overall efficiency and impact your coordination and body balance.
Although they do come with shock absorbing and springier features these days, these surfaces may still impact your back or put unnecessary stress on your joints, hip, and knees. It is important that you test the surface you are running on and the level of rebound it has.
Cost & Maintenance
Treadmills can cost you a lot of money, depending on the brand, model and features you are after. They can range anywhere hundreds of dollars to $7000 or so! A lot of people would rather walk outside in open fresh air, as opposed to spending that kind of money on an exercise machine! What is worse is when these expensive (or even the budget) machines breakdown or do not live up to the user’s expectation. This expensive price tag does not include the cost of repair and maintenance, in case of a breakdown or when it needs oiling, or a belt or motor replacement, unless covered by a long term and comprehensive warranty. Another downside is that these motorized treadmills stack up your electricity bill and that is a constant and recurring additional expense every month.
You will also need to spend some money on a mat that will usually be required on which you place the treadmill, to avoid any damage or markings to your floor or tiles. Once you purchase it, you will also have to pay for the costs associated with delivering and assembling it. The assembly can be time consuming, complicated, require more than 1 person to help, and take up a lot of time.
You may be well-advised to use a treadmill at a gym or a health club against a nominal fee or even free of charge at a community centre.
As is the case with many other equipment that have built-in computerized programs and motors, treadmills are no different, and require routine maintenance by a professional.
Oiling requires special lubricant that needs to be purchased, and most of the times, to be performed by a professional. Same is the case with the belt’s calibration and cleaning of motor and rollers. All these activities are time consuming, and you also need to be available during working days so they can perform the required maintenance.
Treadmills aren’t only heavy but can also take up heaps of space, regardless of the model or features they have. Some of them do not even fold and that can aesthetically look bad, be a nuisance and may be a cause of frustration.
You will need a large room with open spaces to put it in, so you can place and use it in a safe and secure manner. The foldable treadmills are notorious when it comes it longevity and may not last as long as the professional and sophisticated ones.
A lot of people find them hideous and a hazard when you put them in an important part of the house. For such reason, they are often dumped in a basement, garage, spare or guest room or even home office, and there may not be enough space to accommodate it. This can clearly be counterintuitive.
A lot of people find the treadmills boring, given the lack of versatility or forms of use. They only offer you a very limited kind of exercise, i.e., walking to running.
You may like to use it for the first few days but then the excitement fades away pretty fast, and you lose interest. This is due to the repetitive and clichéd routine that it provides on a daily basis. The fixated and monotone scenery (usually a wall) can be depressing and kill the excitement. This can have profound psychological impact on personal gratification, as opposed to walking or running outdoors, which gives you so much to soak in and is comparatively more interactive. These machines can also be loud and that noise itself can be boring and agitating. This is a genuine concern with treadmills and for that reason alone, people stop using it completely, resulting in a wasted investment that occupies space for no reason.
Running indoors on a treadmill can be boring even with the best music playlist or TV programs. It is only a matter of time that you will get over these entertainment options and start looking at the clock every now and then. This is drastically different to when you run outside surrounded by nature, and during this setting, the time seems to go by faster somehow, and you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The route is much clearer and you are more in control of your journey.
There are certain treadmills that come with loud and noisy motors. These inevitably are a source of disruption to the user and those around them. This is regardless of where you place them. The noise is never ending and irritating. It practically makes watching TV, studying or reading very difficult, without full concentration.
If you have placed the treadmill on a higher floor, then it will be a daily nightmare for those sitting downstairs or one level down. They will have to put up with the constant pounding on the ceiling above them, unless you use a mat that can absorb some noise but not cancel it out completely. If you are living in an apartment, you may not even be allowed to keep a treadmill, given the level of noise that it emanates and potentially disrupt the next door person’s life, everyday.
Lacks Physical Variation
No treadmill can exactly replicate the experience that you would get running outside in a natural and open environment. Due to the wind resistance outdoors, you are meant to get a much more efficient workout (between 2 and 10 percent better than you would on a treadmill). Inexperienced runners cannot use bigger strides whilst running on the treadmill, and that may not be an ideal long term workout. It is easier to get into a comfort zone and use your comfort leg and handrails whilst using the treadmill. This reduces the efficiency and doesn’t help you with your long term health and fitness goals. There is also a negative impact on the posture of the users, if they continue to run on a treadmill with poor body positioning (such as leaning forward or backwards) and vision. This also disrupts the momentum of the runner and waste energy.
Running on a flat surface is not challenging and you do not encounter debris, stones or textured surfaces. This may sound like a plus point for using treadmills, but this reduces your adaptability and doesn’t help with your mind and body coordination, which you would normally get with walking or running on the ground in a natural environment.
None of the disadvantages highlighted above are exaggerated. These are genuine downsides that come as part and parcel when you buy a treadmill. Having said that, there are countless number of people using this machine everyday throughout the globe. Fitness equipment companies are thriving and we all see gyms and health clubs springing up all around us.
For all the pitfalls and disadvantages discussed above, we cannot deny the fact that treadmills present a genuine and only option and alternative to walking outdoors, in a convenient and safe manner. It all depends on your preference, budget, space constraints and temperament – choose wisely.