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Getting Starting Using a Treadmill

You’ve bought your first treadmill. Maybe it was because it is more convenient and less expensive than going to the gym. Or maybe you want less impact on your joints than you would get from running outside. Here are a few observations and tips that you find useful while using your treadmill.

Treadmills are Easier!

First, you will find that running on a treadmill seems easier than running outside. This is partially due to the different position that the treadmill puts your body in. When running outside, you actually lean forward a bit to move forward. On a treadmill, the belt is moving your feet back so your body will naturally adjust to a more upright position. Not having to move forward actually makes the running easier. However, if you adjust the incline of the treadmill to a one to three degree angle, you will be forced to lean forward and it will feel more like running outside.


Not actually going anywhere also means the air is not moving over your skin to cool as well as If you were running through the air. That is why you may feel hotter and sweat more than when running outside. It also explains why many treadmills come with fans and cup holders built in.


Running on a treadmill can also be easier than running outside because you set the built-in programs to match your goals and the programs adjust your intensity and time accordingly. All you have to do then is do what the program is making you do!



Many “heart rate programs” built in to treadmills will adjust the incline and speed of your workout to reach or maintain a target heart rate. Most home treadmills come with “contact” heart rate monitors that read your pulse by holding onto the handles. This is fine for periodic checks, but it is better to let your arms swing freely while running and not grab the handrail. Therefore, there are also wireless heart rate monitors available the wrap around your chest and transmit data directly to your treadmill.


Most trainers will advise you to start out slowly (“warm up”) and end slowly (“cool down”). The purpose of the warm up seems to be to prevent injury to cold muscles by suddenly using them, but there seems to be little evidence for this. Both the warm up and cool down advice seems to have been handed down as conventional wisdom without much evidence behind them.


You may feel a little uneasy when you first get off the treadmill after a workout. This seems to have something to do with seeming to move forward while actually being stationary and then seeming to move forward while actually moving forward!. Don’t worry. The brain adjusts quickly and then it’s back to reality!



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