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Even the hardiest of gals are finding it a bit chilly to walk outdoors these days, but the treadmill can be a great alternative for heart-healthy exercise.  Using the treadmill is even easier on the joints than walking on concrete or asphalt!  Do you know the safe and effective way to use the treadmill?

Getting Started on the Treadmill

To use the treadmill safely, start with one foot on each side of the treadmill belt, on the foot rails.  Do not step onto the belt until the treadmill is started at a low speed. Make sure you have your safety clip on (if you fall or trip, the key comes out of the machine and automatically stops the belt).  Ask for help, if you need it! Don’t be shy – understand how the machine works.  If you’re at the gym, ask a gym attendant. If you’re home check your instruction manual.  As the belt is moving slowly, step on and adjust the speed and incline as necessary. The safest approach is to use the “manual” mode of the treadmill, so you can adjust the speed, time, and incline yourself.  You want to feel in control of the machine.

Be Safe on the Treadmill.  Enjoy.  Don’t Fall.  No Flip Flops.

At our gym – Empower Fitness – we take treadmill safety very seriously;  “treadmill safety rules” are on a poster mounted behind the treadmills, and each new user is oriented to these safety rules.  It might seem obvious, but proper footwear is a must…no flip flops, clogs, or boots….just plain old rubber-soled sneakers.  Keep your eyes straight ahead; if you look behind you or sideways, you could stumble and fall.  Loose clothing, like scarves or belts, should be removed from the treadmill rails since they could get tangled in the belt.  Know where the emergency stop is and use it…if you feel dizzy or have chest discomfort.

Get the Most Benefit from the Treadmill

If burning calories is your goal, the most common mistake you can make is holding onto the handrails…it drastically lowers how much energy you expend.  At first you might need to hold the handrails, but don’t continue holding them unless it is necessary for balance (try letting go one hand at a time).  In fact, if you are unable to walk on the treadmill without holding on, you might want to consider using another type of cardio equipment (like a recumbent bike or elliptical).   To get the most cardio benefit from your treadmill usage, it is important to be aware of raising your heart rate and mixing up your routine by changing your speed and incline.  Most treadmills have several preprogrammed exercise routines to choose from, or you can make up your own routine by manually varying your speed and incline (this is what I do).  If you are at a gym, ask for help!

To Read or Not to Read on the Treadmill

I have mixed feelings about this one.  On one hand, I see gals coming into the gym and really enjoying reading a magazine while on the treadmill after a long day at work or a break from the kids (I’m also told that reading makes the time go so much faster).   There are some benefits to heart health, some raise in heart rate, some de-stressing and muscle loosening.  However, reading can distract from energy expenditure.  I believe that a shorter, more intense routine has more benefits (in terms of calorie burn and metabolism boosting and  heart function) than a longer, less intense routine.  But it’s “all good”, a matter of choice, and being clear about the outcomes.  So just get moving.

1 Comment
  1. A dual modality might work for some of us. Your reading time can be your warm-up…..say 10 to 20 minutes. During this time you will loosen up, start to separate from your day and relax a little. Now you are ready to tuck the reading materials away and shift your focus
    to a more serious and higher performance routine. These may be as simple as holding a light pair of weights as you walk;changing the speed and incline at intervals; or listening for “Bob” to say “15 seconds left” and go hard out during those 15 seconds. There are lots of tips and strategies you can employ. The staff knows a few and we love to share! So put down the magazine and book after a while and use some of that wonderful information in Joan B’s Blog.

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Lawrence Shopping Center
(near Burlington Coat Factory)
2495 Route 1 at Texas Ave.
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

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phone: 609.882.4500
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