Treadmills, or belted exercise machines that allow you to walk, jog or run indoors, may be the most popular piece of gym equipment in America. The machine itself is designed to accommodate walkers and joggers, but different machines may handle the demands of jogging better than others. Both walking and jogging are aerobic exercises that provide cardiovascular benefits as part of a well-rounded fitness routine.
Walking as Exercise
Walking is a form of exercise virtually everyone is capable of performing. Using a treadmill to walk provides you with a safe, even surface that is slightly flexible to lessen the impact on your joints. Located indoors, treadmills make walking possible during extreme heat, cold, rain, snow or other inclement weather. Walking provides health benefits including weight management, mood elevation and reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. A brisk walking routine may reduce your risk of heart attack just as well as jogging.
While jogging burns calories at a faster rate than walking, making it more helpful for weight loss and increasing your aerobic fitness, jogging is also tougher on your body. Therefore, jogging is generally not recommended if you are more than thirty pounds overweight, have health issues or if you have knee, ankle or hip problems. Jogging on the treadmill is best suited for you if your heart rate remains between 70 to 80 percent of your maximum, providing you with the same health benefits as walking, but at a higher level of intensity.
Treadmills for Jogging and Walking
If you are planning to use a treadmill for a regular routine of jogging or running, look for a large belt, a strong frame and a powerful motor. ConsumerSearch.com warns that treadmills tough enough to handle regular jogging workouts cost $1,000 and up, as of November 2012. If you intend to use your treadmill mostly as a walker, well-reviewed budget models cost as little as $140. Some inexpensive models may have manual belts with no motor.
Tips on Using a Treadmill
Whether you use a treadmill as a walker or a jogger, know how to work the machine's controls before you begin your workout. Wear closed-toe, supportive athletic shoes, gently stretch your legs, warm up at a slower pace for a few minutes before getting into your cardiovascular exercise and cool down at the end of your workout. Once you start moving and have your balance, let go of the railings and move naturally, as you would if you were walking or jogging outside. Consider using the treadmill for interval training, by walking, then speeding up to a sprint for 30 seconds to a minute and then slowing back down to a walk, to increase the calories burned and increase your heart rate without straining your body.
- Dr. Lam: Chapter 5 - Cardiovascular Training Exercises
- Iowa State University of Science and Technology: Walking Facts and Benefits
- Consumer Search: Treadmill Reviews
- Arthritis Today: Tips for Treadmill Walking Success
- American Journal of Public Health: Physical Activity Patterns Associated with Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Reduced Mortality: The Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study