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Benefits of Treadmill Exercise

by 
author image Martin Booe
Martin Booe writes about health, wellness and the blues. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. He lives in Los Angeles.
Benefits of Treadmill Exercise
Treadmills offer many convenience factors that will help keep you moving. Photo Credit: ArthurHidden/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you live in an extreme climate or prefer to run in a controlled environment, treadmills provide a way to get your run or walk done indoors. Sure, fresh air and sunshine are great, but so is being able to cut your run short without having to walk home and zoning out to your favorite music without having to be alert to uneven surfaces, oncoming death cabs or inattentive pedestrians.

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While historically the word "treadmill" has a rather negative combination — it originally refers to a device harnessed to a mill and powered by human or animal locomotive power — it offers plenty of positive benefits.

Read More: How Long Should Someone Run on a Treadmill?

Less Wear and Tear

Running or walking on a treadmill can lower risk of injury. For one thing, it causes less stress to your joints than running on a hard surface such as asphalt or concrete. It also helps you avoid twisting an ankle or other injuries from running on uneven surfaces. And if you're running at night, treadmills save you from having to run in the dark.

Motivation and Convenience

Treadmills enable you to control the level of difficulty by increasing or decreasing the simulated incline, and of course, your speed, allowing you to push your limits in a controlled environment. In addition, most machines have LED read-outs that allow you to monitor your not only your speed and distance, but also your heart rate along with a reasonable approximation of the calories you're burning. This factor keeps many people motivated by providing concrete numbers by which to measure their progress.

As Good as Outdoor Running

You may wonder if you're sacrificing any of your edge by running on a treadmill instead of outdoors. The answer: apparently not. According to the Journal of Sports Science, running on a treadmill at a 1 percent grade requires the same energy expenditure as running outdoors.

You can maximize the benefits of your treadmill activity with High Intensity Interval Training.
You can maximize the benefits of your treadmill activity with High Intensity Interval Training. Photo Credit: FS-Stock/iStock/Getty Images

High Intensity Interval Training

To maximize your treadmill workout, consider trying High intensity interval training. Also referred to as HIIT, it's a cardio training technique that involves alternating intervals of exercising near full capacity with longer intervals of rest or reduced effort. A 2014 study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, & Metabolism found that 20 minutes of HIIT elevated metabolism the same amount as cycling at a steady pace for 50 minutes. What's more, HIIT bestows better aerobic capacity, improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar, and reduced abdominal fat, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Read More: How to Take Your Run from the Treadmill to the Trail

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