Treadmill exercise can be low-impact or high-impact, depending on how you work out. In both cases, it is weight-bearing. Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Any time you support your weight while exercising, you strengthen your bones. Whether this is your goal or not, learn a few tips about treadmills to maximize your workouts.
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Start Off Slowly
Whether you are stepping foot onto the treadmill for the first time or you are a seasoned athlete, start your workouts with a light warm-up and gradually increase your pace. Even if you are just going to walk, start with a slow walk. If you are going to run, start with a fast-paced walk, progress to a jog, then run at your desired intensity. By gradually increasing your intensity, you will get your body acclimated slowly and not shock your system. Once you finish your workout, do a light cool-down in the same manner as your warm-up.
Stretch Before and After
When you are walking or running on a treadmill, multiple body parts are moving. To get them ready for your workout, spend five minutes doing dynamic stretches before getting on the treadmill. These are done in a steady motion, and they get your body ready for the movement it is about to do. Shoulder shrugs, arm circles, alternating toe touches, knee highs, walking lunges and spinal rotations are examples. Once you finish your workout, spend five minutes doing static stretches to keep your muscles lengthened and to prevent cramps. Static stretches are held for 30 seconds or longer. A forward bend is an example of a static stretch. While standing with your feet together, keep your legs straight, bend at the hips and reach for your toes. Once you have gone as far as possible, hold the stretch.
Use The Controls
Treadmills have a number of features including a speed adjustment. When using your treadmill, mix in bouts of faster and slower speeds for walking and running. This is called fartlek, or interval, training, and it will allow you to get a substantial workout if you are pressed for time.
Do Not Slouch
When using the treadmill, it is important to have good form. The handrails on the machine are not designed to lean on while you walk or run. Only use those for assistance getting on and off the treadmill. When you are exercising, keep your back straight, look forward and take full, smooth strides with your legs. As you do this, pump your arms in a natural motion.
When you exercise, it is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts to prevent dehydration. If your workout lasts longer than 60 minutes, replenish your glycogen with a sports drink. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates, which are necessary for energy. Sports drinks are engineered with balanced ratios of electrolytes and carbohydrates to prevent you from bonking, or running out of energy. Avoid not guzzling, which can cause stomach upset.
Increase the Incline
An effective way to challenge your heart and lungs while burning calories is to simply adjust the incline feature to increase the degree of the incline. Training on an incline makes your legs work harder to propel your body upward, which can help build and define the muscles in your lower body. If possible, avoid holding onto the hand rails because this takes some weight off your legs, which decreases the effectiveness of the incline.
If you use a treadmill at home, set it up several feet away from all walls and furniture to avoid injuries in the event you fall off. Periodically check the belt for wear and tear and tighten any loose nuts and bolts. Use the hand rails when mounting and dismounting your treadmill and if you are a beginner, set the belt no more than .5 mph. Keep children and pets away from the treadmill when it is being used.