Treadmills are standard in nearly all fitness settings, and for good reason. The treadmill is an extremely versatile piece of exercise equipment because it requires limited physical ability, is effective for improving overall health, and offers the advantage of being a weight-bearing exercise.
When walking or running on a treadmill, you are primarily using your leg muscles. Because these muscles are relatively large, they require more energy. Therefore you can raise your heart rate and keep it in your target range, without significant local fatigue.
Treadmills also let you vary the intensity by increasing the speed or by increasing the incline. So, if you prefer walking at a set speed, you can still achieve an effective workout simply by increasing the incline.
The treadmill, however, is not without limitations. Because it is weight bearing, it may not be appropriate for individuals who are excessively overweight or who have or are predisposed to injury. For these individuals, a more joint-friendly or non-weight bearing exercise machine such as an elliptical trainer or stationary bicycle may be better.
If you use a treadmill to supplement your workouts or during inclement weather, it is important to realize that running on an indoor treadmill requires less energy than running at the same speed outdoors. To make up for the discrepancy, a good rule of thumb is to increase the incline on the treadmill anywhere between 1 to 4 percent, if you normally run on flat surfaces. If you normally run on hilly terrain, you may want to increase the grade even more, using your heart rate as a guide.
FINDING THE RIGHT TREADMILL FOR YOU
The treadmill is a great piece of exercise equipment. There are several varieties to choose from out there, so how do you know which one is best for you?
The first thing to consider is how much you will use your treadmill. Are you purchasing it as your main workout, or will you only use it when you are unable to run or walk outside? If you are using this as your main work out then you may want to invest in the best one you can afford. If you are serious about walking or running on your treadmill, you need something that can handle high mileage. If you only plan to use it occasionally a less expensive one is a good choice. Consider the incline. You want to make sure your treadmill can incline while you are walking or running, so in case you want to train for an event you will be able to do that on your treadmill. What types of programs are available? Some machines have programs built in that allow you to interval train by simply touching a button. These are very convenient; however you can do the same thing on a less expensive machine by changing your setting manually. How much room do you have? This is very important to consider, and there are machines in a variety of sizes. You should know how much room you have, so you do not buy a machine and find out after you get it home that it does not fit in your space. There are also machines that fold when they are not in use, so if you are limited on space you may want to consider a model like this. Make sure it fits you. When you are shopping for a treadmill, do not be afraid to hop on and test it out. Make sure the handles are comfortable, and that the weight limit is not exceeded. Be sure to get a machine that you are happy with; you will most likely have it for a long time. If you have bad knees then try getting an Elliptical, there is no impact with an Elliptical.