Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
During periods of rain, wind and cold weather when walking outside may not be possible walking on a treadmill is a very acceptable alternative. Treadmills are available in gyms and leisure centres and in recent years many people have a machine in their own homes. The treadmill is simply the motorised version of walking on the spot or in place.
It is a low impact weight bearing exercise. It is a form of cardiovascular exercise. It will raise your heart rate and cause you to sweat. You will burn the same amount of calories as you would exercising outside and all the health benefits of walking outside can be gained by walking on the treadmill.
You can also multi task while walking by listening to music, watching TV, learning a language or listening to an audio book. Engaging in any of these activities will make the exercise less boring. It is advisable not to read while you exercise as you may lose balance and stumble.
If you decide to use a treadmill inform yourself beforehand on the controls of the machine. Ask advice from other users or read the instruction manual carefully.
Practise using the controls until you are familiar with them before you step on the machine. Be sure you know where the emergency switch is and attach the emergency stop string to your clothing. In that way if you inadvertently stumble you will immediately stop the machine.
Wear good supportive closed toe walking or running shoes. Do some light stretching exercises before you start. Maintain good posture by keeping your head up and looking straight ahead. Start at a slow pace at first to warm up and walk normally.
Do not become dependent on the handrails. Holding on to the rails will lessen the good effects of your exercise period by restricting your arm movement and preventing the establishment of a good stride. Letting go of the handrails will exercise more muscles thus giving you extra benefit from your workout. If you are scared to let go, reduce the speed. As soon as you feel confident enough let go. Keep the speed low until you can walk independently without support. Increase the speed gradually until you reach a comfortable pace and then reduce speed again before finishing, to cool down.
Use the incline on the machine which imitates walking up hills outdoors. The incline challenges the cardiovascular system without using speed. This means less stress on knees and hips and more use of lower back muscles. If you are new to exercise or returning to exercise using the incline at a slow speed is an excellent way to avoid muscle strain or injury. Set the treadmill to an incline of 1%.
There are many advantages to using a treadmill. You can use them at any time. Your walking is not dependent on the weather. However they are expensive pieces of equipment and even if you use them in the gym you will be paying subscription fees.
Walking in the fresh air is free and less likely to become boring but using the treadmill provides a nice change and may help you to continue your exercise programme at home or at the gym in bad weather or at times when it is difficult to get outdoors.