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Treadmills: Pros and Cons

By Paul Rothbart

The invention of various exercise machines has made working out more convenient and in some cases, more effective. The latest generations even monitor pulse, respiration, and calories burned. Like anything else, technology has changed the way we work out. One of the earliest exercise machines is the treadmill. It's a simple concept. Walk or run on a revolving tread which supplies as many miles as you can handle. But before you run out and buy one, here are the pros and cons of treadmills.

Convenience

Treadmills are nice because you can get in a walk or run without leaving the house. Very convenient in inclement weather. There are folding models that can be stored under a bed or in another out of the way place. Many will tell you how far you've run, for how long, and even track calories burned.

Precise Workout Parameters

On a treadmill, you can program the exact pace you want to maintain. This is much easier than trying to maintain it on a standard run. It's a great way to train for a race or even track progress. Many also allow you to choose a specific grade to practice running on hills. You can simulate a number of different running conditions.

Treadmills Can Be Boring

On the con side, running in place can be boring, making it tough to do for a significant length of time. This is a big one for me, personally. I much prefer actually running outside where I am moving through the world. Fresh air and sunshine will also enhance the training experience. Some people counter this by watching television, or listen to music, but it doesn't work for everybody. A study conducted at the University of Stockholm showed a group of runners ran at a faster pace outdoors than on a treadmill with the same perceived level of effort. This indicates that it may be easier to train harder when actually running. 

Lack of Physical Variation

Despite the ability to set certain parameters, even a high end treadmill can't match running on a road or trail for variety. Up and down hills, sun and wind at different angles, changes in surface. These all present challenges that make the workout more effective. To date, no treadmill can accurately reproduce these variations. 

Treadmills certainly have their place in the exercise world. They have their pros and cons. For some, they are what allows them to stay with a walking or running program. The important thing is getting regular exercise. Give a treadmill a try at a local gym. If you like it, you can buy one. If not, train outdoors.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractic at The Joint Chiropractic in Mesquite, Tex.

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