The treadmill is a wonderful invention, allowing us to control the impact, intensity and surfaces on which we're moving. The fact that treadmills usually give a visual readout of calories burned, pulse rate and other pertinent information makes it something of a motivational tool, too. Best of all, you can zone out while listening to music or podcasts.
Certainly, walking on a treadmill can be a great addition to your weight loss efforts. However, it's just one part of the puzzle.
A Word About Calories
You have to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose a pound of fat. That means if you trim 500 calories a day from your meals, you'll most likely lose a pound in a week. Burn off additional calories by walking on the treadmill and you can boost your progress significantly.
In fact, you can double your progress to lose the 2 pounds a week that the National Institutes of Health deems the fastest you can lose weight safely. That, however, means you'll need to do a good deal of walking.
Burning It Off
How many calories someone actual burns walking on a treadmill depends on many factors, including the individual's body composition and the duration, speed and resistance level of your walk. Just for a baseline, according to Healthstatus.com, a 30-year-old woman walking at the rather sluggish pace of 2 mph would burn 175 calories in an hour. Double the pace to 4 mph -- brisk but not insane - -and she would burn 325 calories. That means she'd need 90 minutes on the treadmill daily to burn the necessary 500 calories to lose a pound in a week.
So if weight loss is your goal, by all means let the mighty treadmill be your chariot to leanness. Just make sure to ask if you can substitute a side salad for those fries. It's easy to eat back the calories you burn off walking if you're not careful.
Putting Fat on the Fire
You may notice that on many treadmills, there will be an indicator that you're in the "weight-loss" or "fat-burning" zone. The "zone" for losing weight is supposedly at level of intensity that is well below anyone's peak. That supposition, however, is under somewhat of a challenge.
According to ACE Fitness, the idea that "lower-intensity exercise puts you in the fat-burning zone, so it’s preferable to higher-intensity exercise" is a myth. ACE contends that running at 65 percent of your maximum pulse is the ideal intensity for cause the body to start burning fat for fuel.
So, if you're walking in an effort to keep your heart rate low and burn more fat, reconsider the strategy. You'll burn more calories with a run and potentially lose weight with less time working out.