It seems that treadmills are everywhere today: movies, TV shows, your friends’ houses. But do they work?
The short answer is yes. Treadmills have benefits galore for your health. We’ll discuss them below, with a twist:
If one of these benefits is the main reason why you’d want a treadmill, we’ll tell you what features to consider first and foremost.
Besides, we’ll also tackle the advantages of incline and curved treadmills, with all the science behind them. We’ll end on a high note, discussing treadmill disadvantages and how to mitigate them.
Read on below!
1. Reduced Impact
The reduced impact is among the primary benefits of running on a treadmill instead of running on pavement or dirt. Unlike hard surfaces that put your joints under a lot of stress, treadmills are cushioned and therefore protect your ankles, knees, and lower back.
Pro tip: If you have chronic pain, consider a treadmill with specific shock absorption to minimise impact to your joints even more.
2. Your Treadmills, Your Rules
When you buy a running machine, you can select and control everything, from workout intensity to duration. Remember to always take into account your fitness level and specific variations in this level from day to day. Some days you could do with a longer warm-up; others, you can jog to the maximum speed limit.
Pro tip: When you purchase a treadmill, consider your current fitness level as well as your goals. Assess all the treadmill’s features – programmes, incline, measuring devices – through the lens of your needs.
3. Precise Training
If you’re running marathons or taking part in races, you need to train as much as possible. Treadmills allow you to do that even when it’s raining or when you’re too busy to go to the gym.
Besides, you can adjust your workout intensity and incline to train for different types of terrain. As a result, you will perform better in your race.
Pro tip: If you’re getting a treadmill to help you train, choose one with immersive reality/ race simulation.
4. Reduced Stress
Exercise reduces your stress because it oxygenates your brain, increases your metabolism, and helps your hormonal function. So, as your whole body works better, you can handle stress better.
Besides, exercise stimulates the production of endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are happiness hormones, whereas dopamine is the reward hormone.
So even five minutes on your treadmill can make you feel happier and more accomplished. Runners’ high isn’t just a myth!
Pro tip: If simply using your treadmill isn’t enough to make you feel better, get one with a proficient built-in entertainment system. This type of treadmill allows you to watch a movie, listen to music or even read while using it.
5. Cardiovascular Health
While people’s life expectancy is pretty high today, our heart health isn’t so great. We’ve become sedentary, stressed-out, poor eaters – and all that clogs our arteries.
So, the benefits of running on a treadmill daily include improving your blood circulation and lowering your blood pressure.
Pro tip: Choose a treadmill with a built-in heart rate monitor and select the correct heart zone for your goals.
There’s nothing like exercising in the privacy of your own home. You can hop on that treadmill even at 2 am if you feel like it.
Just imagine what it would mean to run outdoors at that time of night. You could get mugged, hit by a drunk driver or even fall by mistake because it’s harder to see in the dark.
Pro tip: If convenience is the number one reason why you’re getting a treadmill, think what convenience means for you. For example, maybe you want a foldable treadmill for a compact apartment or a very silent one if you want to exercise when your roommates are sleeping.
7. Weight Loss
There are tons of resources regarding treadmill benefits for weight loss. Some sources even claim that you can burn up to 1000 calories per hour on the treadmill!
However, it’s worth thinking objectively about this.
How many calories you’ll burn on the treadmill depends on:
- How fast you’re running
- Your age
- Your biological sex
- Your current weight
- Your height
- Your fitness level
- The incline
- Any additional weights
- How you structure your workouts
That means a 20-year-old male who weighs 100 kg at 190 cm, who has lots of muscles and running fast at an incline wearing a weighted vest will burn more calories than a 50-year-old, slim, petite, non-fitness-freak female who simply walks on the treadmill.
And then there’s the last factor:
How you structure your workouts.
Avoid long daily runs on the treadmill because your heart will get used to being in a hyped-up state with a high pulse. That means your heart rate may decrease to below 60 bpm if you’re doing cardio for long periods – it’s what happens to professional cyclists, for example.
As a result, your metabolic rate decreases, and you gain weight instead of losing it.
Here are some solutions:
- Don’t run on your treadmill every day.
- Incorporate strength training into your routine to lose weight faster and to increase your metabolism.
- If using your treadmill daily eases your stress, use it for mild-paced walking at least some days of the week.
- Do interval workouts on your treadmill because these keep your body guessing as you alternate between periods of intense running and gentle walking.
Pro tip: If you want to lose more weight faster, set your workout intensity according to your heart rate into the “fat-burning zone.”
8. Toned Muscles
Treadmills exercise your lower body, so you’ll soon see more definition in your legs and glutes. If you keep a correct posture, you’ll engage your core muscles so that they’ll get in shape faster.
However, it’s wise to incorporate an upper body workout routine as well. If you want a complete total body workout, wear hand weights and don’t hold onto your treadmill while walking.
Pro tip: Choose a treadmill with built-in resistant bands if you don’t want to invest in additional gym equipment for your home.
9. Increased Joint Flexibility
Treadmills are practical tools if you’re mobility challenged – for example, if you have arthritis or another condition that decreases your flexibility. Simply walking on the treadmill every day improves your range of motion and overall mobility because this exercise strengthens your bones and ligaments.
That means you’ll feel less intense symptoms so that you can enjoy life more.
Pro tip: Choose a treadmill for beginners if your main goal is to increase flexibility. That may mean either a basic treadmill with no bells and whistles if you have a limited budget or one with specific programmes for flexibility.
10. Increased Bone Density
Bone density starts decreasing rapidly once we enter middle age. As a result, we lose a significant part of the minerals that compose our bones. For women especially, that means a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercises – walking, strength training, running, jumping on the trampoline – increase your bone density. You’ll see results in a few months if you stick to your routine: less pain and more mobility.
Pro tip: Aim for at least 20 minutes of exercise every day to see improved results and diminished pain.
Benefits Of Incline Treadmill
An incline treadmill has all the benefits above, plus a couple more thanks to its incline:
- You build lower body strength as you’re pushing with your quadriceps, glutes, and calves to tackle that incline
- You build increased core strength because when you’re climbing a slope, the tendency is to tighten the core muscles more. That’s because you need more balance to help you on the hill.
- You’re burning more calories. Even just walking at an incline accelerates the heart rate. As a result, you’ll burn more of your fat stores faster.
- You’re building increased endurance. Tackling that inclined slope demands more effort, which increases your lung capacity. In the long term, that translates into increased stamina.
Benefits Of Curved Treadmill
Curved treadmills don’t have motors. Instead, they use the momentum from your feet as you’re walking or running to propel the belt backwards.
And obviously, they’re curved.
These two features lead to the following advantages:
- Curved treadmills are friendlier to your joints because they mimic the natural way in which you’re walking. At the same time, this curve reduces Normal Force.
Forgot what Normal Force is?
It’s not Star Trek, don’t worry. Just your fundamental high school physics.
When you’re at an incline, the forces act like this:
That means the force acting on your knees when you’re walking is smaller because it corresponds to the force of your weight multiplied by the cosine of your slope.
Or you could have just taken our word for it instead of reading all this math. Well, technically, physics, but still math.
- You can burn more calories on it. The science behind this claim shows that curved treadmills will make your heart work harder so that you can lose more calories. The reason is the treadmills’ curved shape that makes you work harder.
- Good heart health. If your heart works harder, it becomes stronger. Does that mean curved treadmills are better at improving cardiovascular health than normal treadmills? Perhaps the answer is no because, after all, overexerting your heart isn’t healthy at all. However, just like flat treadmills, curved treadmills are good for your heart.
- More muscle engagement. Your legs will execute specific movements to push onto this curved treadmill. Simultaneously, you’ll have to keep your core engaged in a particular way, oscillating from tight when you’re at the upwards end of the curve towards less tense when you’re at the bottom. All these movements target your muscles in different ways than a regular treadmill. That means you can avoid weight loss plateaus and gain more muscle strength.
Disadvantages Of Running On A Treadmill
Now that you know the advantages of running on a treadmill, let’s see some of the drawbacks:
The models with all the bells and whistles are costly. Whether or not you have a limited budget, our advice is to choose the right programmes and features according to your needs. For example, if you’re simply looking to get more mobility and improve your cardiovascular health, you can find great models under £
Treadmills aren’t 100% low-impact. Although the impact to your joints is significantly reduced compared to running on the pavement, running on the treadmill is still running. So, if you need extra cushioning, remember to choose a model with an extra rebound.
Treadmills are huge. Sure, treadmills are bigger than a bunch of weights or exercise bands. However, you can find plenty of compact, foldable treadmills if you live in a tiny apartment.
Treadmills are loud. Some treadmills can reach 70 dB, which is as loud as the sound of a vacuum. If you place them on a wooden floor, their sound can amplify to 100 dB, sounding like a motorcycle engine. So, if you value your quiet, set your treadmill on a thick carpet or look specifically for a very silent model. But first, check to see if the belt is tight enough and the joints are well lubricated.
Treadmills don’t exercise your upper body. It’s true that simply running on the treadmill isn’t a very complex exercise and that your body needs more. However, you can wear hand weights while running or purchase a model with resistance bands. Alternatively, you can do some separate upper body strength training after warming up on the treadmill.
In conclusion – does running on a treadmill get you in shape?
After reading this article, you know that running – or even walking – on a treadmill gets you in shape. As you tone your muscles, improve your endurance, and increase your flexibility, you will get in shape.
The key is to challenge yourself according to your fitness level and do upper body exercises. Remember that three hours on the treadmill every day can do a world of damage to your body. So, try to work out smarter and not harder.
Also, choose the right treadmill according to your needs, whether building muscle, gaining flexibility, or losing weight.