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3 reasons treadmills are good

As is often the case in life, the simplest things are often the best. So too with exercise. For example, one of the best forms of exercise running is a direct outgrowth of one of the first things we learn to do walk. And running, often forbidden us as small children (as in "I told you kids, no running!") can reap great physical benefits as we get older.

Indeed, along with swimming, running offers one of the best overall workouts. But running does have its drawbacks. Prolonged running, especially on hard surfaces, can wreak havoc with your lower body. And unless you have an indoor track available to you, extremes of weather and temperature can complicate or curb even the most ambitious running program.

Never one to overlook a potential market, the exercise machine industry has responded with all types of indoor running machines. One that continues to grow in popularity is the home treadmill. Why? Here are three key reasons:

Convenience - Most people prefer not to exercise outside when it is cold, inclement, or dark. Even if you have access to an indoor track or health club, finding a regular time to run during a busy week's schedule can be difficult. Owning a treadmill solves these problems; people who own one can exercise more often. And, since most people are familiar with the basics of walking and running, treadmills are pretty easy to use.

Physical benefits- Exercising on a treadmill has wide-ranging benefits. As Gregory Florez, president of Chicago's First Fitness Inc., points out, "walking or running on a treadmill...has great cardiovascular value for the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. It's a very efficient way to lose body fat, and, since it's a weight-bearing activity, it has musculoskeletal benefits as well." And because running can reduce stress, you actually feel calmer and more relaxed (albeit sweaty).

Low impact workouts - Despite all its benefits, years of walking or running can take its toll on feet, legs and hips, especially if you exercise on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete. Treadmills, particularly higher-end models with built-in shock absorption properties, can greatly reduce the stress placed on your feet, legs and joints.

Mon. Jan 30, 10:00am

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ooh, as I sell fitness equip, I'll put in my 2 cents: why treadmills are better (generally) than ellipticals.

A treadmill is one size fits all- ellipticals have different widths between the pedals, and being too wide can cause you to have a side to side sway that's not so great as it can overwork certain muscles, and put you out of alignment.

Ellpticals use momentum- one leg goes down, the other goes up. You don't require as much effort to "lift" your leg as you do on a treadmill. Also means you can bounce instead of usuing your muscles properly- diminishes the effectiveness of your workout.

Treadmills do not slow down for you. If you start getting tired, you can slow down yourself on an elliptical. Now yes, you'll see your rotations count drop, but how many people understand rotations compared to distance? Most people find it easier to maintain their intensity on a treadmilll. (though most deny this until you put them to a test...)(as for measuring intensity by heart rate, I do not support the use of little metal pieces you have to hold on to- get a real heart rate monitor than continuously meausures your hr)

If you set the incline high on your treadmill, you will have very little impact, but a really great workout. As most people say they need an elliptical because of the no impact aspect, you can get the same from a treadmill.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 12:29 PM

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to the above poster

Thank you for that info. I had no idea that ellipticals could cause problems if they were too wide and although I think I suspected what you said about slowing yourself down on an elliptical, I was in denial.

I guess I won't be rushing to the elliptical anymore. (Oh, I'll still use it sometimes but it won't be my exclusive workout).


Monday, January 30, 2006, 1:08 PM

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Thanks for this post. Could you possibly clarify what you mean when you say walking or running "is a weight-bearing actitivy, it has musculoskeletal beneifts as well".

Someone (whose opinion I value) recently told me that running does not build muscle, although it is good cardio. Do you know if this is true?

Monday, January 30, 2006, 2:52 PM

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to the last question, im not sure if that is true for everyone. I have built muscle since i have started running i run about 4-5 miles a day though. i don't do any weight training on my legs just that and people have noticed that they have gotten bigger.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 3:13 PM

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I think that whether or not you build muscle has to be related to how fit you are when you start running.. If you had little muscle to begin with, you will probably build some muscles. Also, as the fat goes away, the muscles will become better defined, and therefore look bigger as well... :-)

I like the Treadmill because when I calculated the cost for my hubby & me to join a gym, we figured out that we could pay for a really nice treadmill and still have it at the year's end.. :-) (whereas the gym membership would have to be renewed). Also, we don't have to drag ourselves out into the cold to go to the gym-- we put our TV / DVD player in front of the treadmill and therefore, the time we used to spend being couch potatoes is now spent on our exercise machines! ;-)

Monday, January 30, 2006, 3:24 PM

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Well - to answer the muscle qeustion:

All muscles in your legs are not alike - you have long lean ones and large thick ones. The long lean ones are best built by aerobic exercise like running, swimming and cycling and the large thick ones are best built by anaerobic exercises like weight lifting and other resistance exerecises.

Note that the above are generalizations but that is the essence of it. Heredity (in addition to your level of fitness) also plays a role in which muscles you build quicker.

Google running, muscles, twitch and you'll get much more info. Runner's world also has great info.

This was a nice idea for a thread. I particularly enjoyed the comments by the person who sells fitness equipment.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 6:22 PM

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I love my treadmill. I read or watch TV while I am walking and the time flies by while I get a great workout. I do not like to run on the treadmill (feels like I am going to fall off and I can not do it very long) so I started using ankle weights to add intensity to my workout. I have seen great results from using my treadmill.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006, 9:31 AM

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I've been choosing cardio equipment at the gym based on calories burned per minute. The elliptical and arc trainer seem to burn the most per minute and also seem the lowest impact.

Meaning, they seem like they are doing the most with the least effort---plus running on a treadmill jars your joints and skin and I THINK might make you age some parts of your body faster than low impact cardio.

I still run on a treadmill a mile or so every day but I stick to the low impact stuff to do the bulk of my calorie burning...

Anyone advise?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 11:35 PM

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If you are basing the calories burned on the readout from the machine, it is not very accurate. It seems to be the going trend that ellipticals over-estimate calories burned.

If you feel like you are putting in the "least effort" you are probably actually getting the least results. That doesn't mean you have to run on the treadmill, but you have to really increase the resistance and incline on the elliptical to actually burn more calories. Using your arms or pumping them hard increases calorie burn. Walking on the treadmill at an incline will also increase calorie burn without increasing impact. Push yourself to work a bit harder to get results - don't go by the calorie count on the machine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 11:48 PM

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By least, i meant least hard on the body. The jarring of your ankles and knees running (in calories per minute at 7 mph or so) versus the smooth motion of a elliptical (at level 10 or so) seem to burn similar calories.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 11:57 PM

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keeping in mind that calorie counters on machines are virtually useless (ESP if they don't ask for wieght) re-read what was posted about treadmills vs. ellipticals.

Granted, running is not for everyone. I don't like to run more than 20 min for a workout- but I usually combine it with a 40 min walking routine. Walking is the most natural form of exercise- ellipticals are soooooo unnatural. Where on planet earth, other than on an elliptical, could you move that way? Answer: nowhere. Not on sand, not in water, not in a mud pitt.

That being said, some people walk at a leisurely pace as opposed to a fast pace, or they don't take advantage of the incline on a treadmill. You don't have to run on a treadmill to get great results. And I for one am entirely sick of the BULLSH*T excuse people use of "it jars my joints"- you walk daily don't you? OR do you drive around on a cart everywhere? I doubt it. Set the incline high, and walk at a moderate pace. You will get a fabulous workout with less "impact" than walking through the mall.

Walking/running is a musculoskeletal workout because you are bearing your weight while exerting yourself, and because you are working your entire body, you skeletal structure comes into play (another reason ellipticals are evil- they do not support normal skeletal structure or alignment)

Walking doesn't age any part of your skin. And while I may be only 25, I get ID'd at the liquor store (here you have to be 18 to purchase liquor),so I don't think aging is affected negaticely by running or walking.

Thursday, May 25, 2006, 12:01 AM

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I think it impacts aging...I can feel my face moving up and down and up and down...

Thursday, May 25, 2006, 12:06 AM

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Joints and jarring

I love the treadmill. It is my favorite exercise at the gym. And I usually run, but agree that you can get a lower impact fabulous work-out by kicking up the incline and walking (more like hiking) on the treadmill.

I do want to point out to poster 12:01, however that issues re joints are very real. While I walk around rather than driving around in a cart, there actually are a number of people who develop complications from arthritis, joint replacements, etc. who do ride around in carts or wheelchairs all or most of the time. Both of my parents, who have been heavy most of their adult lives, have had serious complications with their joints. My mother had to have one hip and both knees replaced.

So . . . when people are really heavy or have some other kind of health complications or joint problems, impact on their joints really does matter. For some people, running is not appropriate. Instead of the eliptical, however, I would suggest walking on a high incline on the treadmill, swimming, or using a rowing machine. I believe that all of these exercises seem likely to provide a more intense cardio workout.

Sunday, June 04, 2006, 11:19 PM

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12:01 here.

I understand joint problems are real. My mother has arthritis. However, if a person walks about from A to B, when shopping or working, they can usually walk on a treadmill and get a workout, with no more joint pain than their walk through the grocery store. People with joint pain may likely never be runners. You don't need to run to get in shape, work out, or use a treadmill. My point is, a treadmill will always be a better workout than an elliptical IF used properly, regardless of thecondition of the user.

Monday, June 05, 2006, 1:47 AM

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