The treadmill gives you the opportunity to walk indoors without braving dark mornings, cold weather or unfriendly terrain.
But the perks of walking on a treadmill don't stop there. The ability to set your treadmill on an incline is great if you want to kick your sweat session up a notch.
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Walking on an incline offers multiple benefits for any exercise goal you may have, like building strength, improving your stamina and endurance or losing weight, just to name a few.
Ahead, we dive deeper into the benefits of walking on a treadmill incline and why you should give it a try next time you hop on this versatile piece of equipment.
1. You'll Burn Calories
Adding an incline significantly increases the calories you burn during your walk. This is because when you walk uphill, your body weight acts as resistance. Your muscles, in turn, must work harder to propel you forward. All your leg muscles recruit a greater number of fibers for all this extra effort you body is putting in. More muscle fibers working means more calories burned.
So, how many calories does incline walking burn? Well, the exact number depends on how much you weigh because your body burns calories in proportion to your body weight.
Here's a look at the number of calories you'd burn walking uphill for 1 hour at a brisk pace of 3.5 mph if you weighed 130, 155, 180 and 205 pounds, according to NutriStrategy.
Calories Burned in 60 Minutes of Walking Uphill at 3.5 MPH
Does walking uphill burn more calories? Undoubtedly, because your body is working harder. For comparison, here's how many calories you'd burn walking on a flat surface at the same speed for the same amount of time.
Calories Burned in 60 Minutes of Walking on a Flat Surface at 3.5 MPH
2. You'll Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness
Walking on an incline increases your heart rate. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should aim to exercise in what's called your target heart rate zone. This zone is 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate when doing moderate-intensity activity and 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate when doing high-intensity activity.
To find your max heart rate (MHR), there are two common formulas you can use. (Keep in mind, though, the most accurate way to find your MHR is through an exercise stress test — talk to your doctor if you're interested in doing this kind of test.)
- MHR = 220 - your age
- MHR = 207 - (0.7 x your age)
Then, to find your target heart rate zone, take a look at this chart from the AHA below.
Target Heart Rate Zone
Maximum Heart Rate
100-170 beats per minute (bpm)
It's important to work out in your target heart rate zone because it boosts your endurance, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Better endurance not only translates to cardio exercise feeling easier, but it helps you with everyday activities like walking up stairs without getting out of breath, too.
3. You'll Burn Fat
After about 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, your body starts to burn fat, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
By walking at an incline, your heart rate is higher and you're walking with greater intensity, so your body depletes its glycogen stores sooner. This results in your body using its fat stores earlier and a greater percentage of fat being "burned."
4. You'll Build Muscle Strength
Walking on a treadmill incline increases leg muscle activation. The specific muscles worked when walking uphill include your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
In addition to targeting your lower-body muscles, incline walking strengthens your core because those muscles are engaged to help stabilize your body.
Having strong leg and core muscles makes doing daily tasks — like lifting and carrying kids, pets, boxes, groceries, etc. — easier.