My treadmill is finally seeing some action these days. But are the benefits gained from this piece of low-impact exercise equipment worth the walk?
My treadmill is my friend and my nemesis
Getting back into working out meant uncovering the treadmill upstairs and putting it to work. I admit to having a complex relationship with this piece of machinery. When I am using it I love it. I love to jump on and start walking, striving to beat the previous session’s time by just a little more, challenging myself to a degree steeper incline.
When I am not using it I hate it. I hate looking at it. I hate the space it takes up. When it becomes a repository for boxes and bags I hate it. It sits there, judging me. It is rarely out of sight since I have to pass it multiple times. “J’accuse”, I can hear it’s greased gears and dusty display whisper. “Why don’t you just get on and walk a little?”
My treadmill lets me get my walk on
There is broad agreement that as an exercise, walking is good for you. It is a great way to lose weight and stay fit. Walking generally presents little risk of injury. And just 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week will meet the minimum recommended 2.5 hours a week for the average person.
Restarting my diet and weight loss goals in January meant I’d be out in the cold and rain if I wanted to walk further than from the bedroom to the kitchen. I have a great neighborhood for walking, with sidewalks and hills and circuit routes. But getting out in inclement weather didn’t sound likely.
Luckily, I have a treadmill that I bought several years ago that has had spotty usage. With it, I can set how fast I want to walk and at what incline. I can walk for either time or distance and the pace is as constant or as changing as I please. It is not like weights or a Bowflex unit where I have to actually pick stuff up and exert myself for it to work. I turn the treadmill on, start walking, and the exercise just kind of happens.
What I like about my treadmill
My wife picked out the treadmill and selected some cool features. What they are and what they do, I cannot say. I can start it and I can stop it. I can make it change speed and change incline. When all else fails I can jump off.
Overall it is a very handy piece of equipment to have. The pluses for having it include:
- I can use it anytime, day or night. It is unaffected by the rain, cold, or heat of the outdoors.
- It is right here in my house, so don’t have to join a gym or go anywhere to use it.
- I can match it to my level of fitness.
- No cars to watch out for or curbs or potholes. It is a safer walk than being outdoors.
- A low-impact exercise that is easy on my feet and knees.
What I don’t like
But like any coin, there are two sides. I cannot be the only one who’s $350+ laundry rack drives them crazy. If it was all wonderful, everyone would own one and use it every day, like a TV.
My treadmill is useful. However, it does come with some drawbacks to its use:
- Boring. The view never changes.
- It tends to be a gathering place for stuff that hasn’t gotten put away yet. This can make it a nuisance to clean off before using it.
- It’s noisy which can disrupt the rest of the household.
- Even with the windows open, I don’t get the sense of fresh air and sunshine that comes from walking outside.
- No variety in my walk besides controlling speed and elevation.
- It judges me. “J’accuse!”
Benefits for weight loss of a regular treadmill routine
Never the less, now that I am back on the path to eating right and getting fit, the treadmill will be playing a supporting role. And why not? There are lots of benefits with a treadmill that will help me in reaching my goals.
- No excuses. It’s killed my ability to put off working out. It is right here in the house. In fact, I have to pass it every day, multiple times. I just cannot get away with dodging my workout obligations. Raining outside? Treadmill. Don’t have time to go to a gym? Treadmill. Rather watch something on TV than workout? Do it and treadmill. Don’t have time? C’mon, you’re already walking… walk on the treadmill. It’s right there.
- I choose the burn. Using the treadmill is probably never going to do me any harm. Unless I use it while intoxicated. And I wouldn’t do that. Even a little workout of 15 minutes will burn calories, get my heart rate up, and warm me up. A little, 15-minute walk at 3.5 mph on a 0° incline. It’s good for me. I can also choose to up the speed and the incline, and even work in some HIIT to get the blood pumping the and sweat flowing. A little or a lot, whichever I choose will be of benefit to me.
- It makes me regular. Maybe not at the top of other lists, but an important factor to me. I’m eating differently now and my digestive routine is different. Less food and fewer calories typically mean less regularity. Walking on the treadmill engages my core muscles and stimulates my tract to keep things moving. It makes me drink more water, which also helps with regularity.
- It’s a gateway exercise. Commit to 5 minutes of exercise, and you’re likely to do 15 minutes. That is the advice from some quarters when it comes to working out. Just get started, even with a little bit. Getting on the treadmill is pretty easy. You just need to walk. Walk for just 10 minutes every day. After 10 minutes, stop if you want to. But it is more likely that you will press on and do 15 minutes, or 20. Then you’re doing it for an hour. The next thing you know you’re increasing your time and incline. All of a sudden you are training for a 10K, and then a marathon. For myself, I would like using the treadmill to segue into more vigorous exercise routines for losing weight and building muscle strength. Committing to 10 minutes of treadmill, then 25 pushups, then 50 squats, until I’ve transitioned into a full circuit work out begins with that initial step onto the treadmill.
Finally, a place to multi-task
Best of all, it is one thing that I can do for 30 – 40 minutes that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. Finally, I can multi-task while using the treadmill. I can plug up my iPhone or iPad and listen to audible books, an online course, catch up on the news, or watch one of my programs. So many other things require attention and concentration, making doing more than one thing at a time difficult. But walking I pretty much have down pat. So listening to a book or dictating notes or Netflixing and chilling isn’t a compromise in the quality of my workout.