As people commit to improving their health, the treadmill has enjoyed a strong resurgence in popularity.
Many consumers prefer the option of exercising in their homes. Ownership of a treadmill allows you to avoid temperature extremes and gives you the ease of being able to exercising at any time of the day or night. The convenience of owning a treadmill may also translate into your using it more frequently.
The advantages of using a treadmill include building endurance, toning, burning calories (with subsequent weight loss), increasing metabolism, a reduction of inches and higher energy levels. A good workout helps keep you accountable too. You are far less likely to indulge in that piece of chocolate cake when you know exactly how long it takes to burn it off!
Treadmills are found in medical and rehabilitation facilities and are the gold standard for evaluating cardiovascular status. Technicians record the bodies’ response to the increased demand imposed on the heart during a treadmill workout, measuring oxygen consumption, monitoring the heart rate and evaluating heart rhythms.
Our bodies are made up of two different types of muscle fibers that differ in the way they move us. Generally speaking, many of us have about 50% slow twitch fibers and 50% fast twitch fibers in our bodies. Fast twitch fibers contract quickly, producing more power and strength. Fast twitch muscle fibers are activated during short bursts of speed and strength such as in sprinting or bodybuilding. These muscle fibers are also designed to grow larger in response to training. Slow twitch fibers contract slowly and for longer periods of time. Their purpose is to gradually increase endurance. The difference is noted in activities like cycling, running and swimming. A treadmill workout can engage both the fast and slow twitch fibers when you divide your workout time into segments of sprints and power walking.
When using your treadmill, it is important to wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Drink plenty of water to remain adequately hydrated. Warm up muscles slowly, gradually increasing the blood flow to them, thus avoiding strains and injuries. While your clothes may reflect inches and pound lost, keeping a log to monitor your progress will record the improvement in your endurance and fitness.
Before you purchase a treadmill, evaluate your fitness goals and expectations. Prices can vary tremendously, as do the many options available. Consider the warranty and factor in shipping or delivery and setup costs. If ordering online, go to a showroom and “test drive” the model you are interested in to ensure that it is comfortable and meets your needs. Whether buying new or used, read the reviews and ratings. Remember that you can always upgrade your treadmill as your fitness levels increase. Buying a used treadmill may be an affordable option and there are some great deals to be had, especially in the off-season. Witness the January fitness phenomenon as people honoring New Year’s resolutions invade fitness centers and gyms and purchase exercise equipment. By February, a significant number of people have abandoned their pledges to incorporate more exercise into their lives, leaving a plethora of gently used treadmills for sale on internet swap sites and newspaper want ads.
When evaluating a treadmill, it should feel stable. Steel alloy frames are more durable than aluminum. The deck size should be adequate to accommodate your stride while providing shock absorption to cushion the impact on your joints. Consider the length and width of the track. A shorter track may be sufficient for walking or light jogging whereas longer, wider belts are recommended for running. Most models have heart rate monitors that display speed, distance, and calories burned while the newer models feature touch screens. The controls should be within easy reach and comfortable to use. Ensure that the motor runs quietly and smoothly, allowing you to hear music or the TV while in use. A programmable, variable workout can alleviate boredom as you vary the intensity and style of your workout. Interval workouts and hill climbing can be displayed and mimics walking on hills. Some models have space saver designs that fold for easy storage. Two important safety features, especially with small children in the home, are an emergency off switch and a safety key. The safety key is similar to that on snowmobiles. If you fall off, the key is disengaged, stopping the unit. As a final reminder, be sure to consider the size of the room that you intend to put it in!