Treadmills are found in every gym and in many households across the country. There has been much debate over their positive and/or negative impact on your workout. It has been said that they are bad for your knees or that they aren't as good a workout as running outside. It has also been said that you can mimic an outside run by using the right setting. The truth is, treadmills aren't the evil, lazy runner's way out that they are portrayed to be, nor are they any worse for you than running outside on the hard ground.
Treadmills are as good a running tool as the outdoors. For those who live in a sunny, warm climate, perhaps running outdoors is the ideal exercise. But, no different than in cold states, there are times when the weather just doesn't cooperate with your planned run. It might be rainy and cool, or perhaps it might be too hot outside. During these times, the treadmill is a runner's friend as they don't have to give up their daily run because Mother Nature has chosen to be ornery.
The truth about treadmills is that most of the bad press is false. The machines are not bad for you if you are operating them properly. Posture is perhaps the biggest issue. Whether you are trying to watch TV or watch your feet, leaning one direction or another or turning your head further one direction can throw off your alignment and ultimately create soreness in overstretched or under-stretched muscles.
I like to plug in my iPod when I jump on the treadmill, because it blocks out the world and sometimes, after a particularly challenging day dealing with many issues, it is nice to walk or run on the treadmill and pretend I am the only person there. According to doctors, this is not as physically healthy as one might think. When you zone out too much, you don't pay attention to your posture and again you may be overexerting some muscle groups while ignoring others. It makes for an awkward final product.
Some other traps with a treadmill are setting the incline too steep. If your intent with the treadmill is to simulate an outside walking or running experience, you don't want to set your incline to 10 percent and walk at that level for the next hour. Unless you are climbing a mountain, it is unlikely you would experience that type of incline in the real world. You should also relax your arms rather than holding the bars and finally, don't put much stock in the digital readouts. They aren't set specifically for you.
It really boils down to this; the truth about treadmills is that they aren't the evil knee goblin they have been made out to be. They are a great substitute for outdoor walking or running when the weather is poor. Be sure you use proper settings, posture and ignore the digital readouts and you will be just fine.
Jen Calvin loves walking in the fresh sunny air of spring, summer and fall, but when winter or rain hits, she hits the gym and walks on the treadmill. http://www.legacyfit.com