By Simon Gould
You may have bought a treadmill and it’s been assembled at home, or you’ve got a membership to a gym and are looking at using a treadmill. You want to get fit, active, healthy, lose weight or all of those things. Maybe you’ve just assembled one in your home and it needs to be tested and used.
Maybe you’ve had your gym club induction and the treadmill is the equipment you plan to use. They’re a bit different to other types of fitness equipment. With an exercise bike, it’s easy to just get on and start pedaling. With an elliptical it’s much the same. It doesn’t move unless you’re pushing it yourself.
A treadmill requires a certain degree of bravery. You increase the speed the first time and you’re not sure how fast it will go. They start very slowly, usually in increments of 0.1 mph. It can be slightly daunting at first. Here I’ll go through some of the reasons to have anxiety about using a treadmill and why you shouldn’t worry.
Treadmills have a good safety record
Treadmills in general have a good safety record when you consider how dangerous they could be. In 2019 there were around 22,500 injuries from using one. When you find out that 50 million people use them every year in the US alone, that represents the tiniest fraction. You really shouldn’t have anxiety about using one if you’re afraid you could hurt yourself.
To put your mind at ease, there are a few safety features built in to treadmills. The main one is the safety key or cord. You attach this to your clothing and the other is attached to the treadmill. If the connection is broken the treadmill stops. Therefore if you lose your balance in any way, it’s designed to prevent you from being hurt.
The handrails are also there for safety and support. While you shouldn’t use them while exercising, if you feel faint or out of breath. If you feel dizzy or unsure, then hold on to them. If there is anyone around, you can ask them to watch you as you take your first steps. If you need that bit of reassurance, then take it. If you’re at home, wait for a family member.
Embarrassment at the gym
Gyms can feel like the worst place for someone who’s just beginning an exercise program especially if you’ve never been in one before. You think everyone’s an expert and they all seem to know what they’re doing. Some gym’s are a bit quiet and you’re afraid to ask for help.
The last thing you want you do in a busy gym is to fall off the treadmill. You can just imagine all the noise and commotion it will cause and what would people think? People might know you’re a beginner and you’d have to do a walk of shame to another type of equipment that’s easier to use. The embarrassment would be overwhelming.
The reality of using a treadmill
Everyone has to start somewhere. If you’ve bought a treadmill you could be on your own so it’s all up to you. You need to get on and take the plunge. You can just walk if you need to. But if you feel brave increase the speed and get jogging. It’s like pushing off on a bike. Once you take a leap of faith on the treadmill, it becomes second nature.
At the gym everyone had to start somewhere too. If you ask for help fellow gym goer’s are more than happy to help. They started somewhere just like you. If you ask someone for advice they will thoroughly enjoy sharing their expertise. That’s what gym goer’s are like. You have nothing to worry about using a treadmill in a gym.
Have confidence in your own ability or inability
Some gym goer’s may worry they are running or walking slowly and everyone else seems to go quicker. Again, this is something you shouldn’t worry about. Everyone is at their own stage in their fitness aims. Some lift heavy weights, some not. Some sprint on the treadmill, some don’t. Gyms are welcoming places. No one really cares about how you’re getting on, they’re busy doing their own thing.
Whether you’re using a treadmill at home or in a gym a classic beginners mistake is going too fast. After you’ve overcome the anxiety about using the treadmill it’s important to take things slowly. You’re not going to achieve maximum fitness in one go. And running quicker will not get you there faster. You will just be frustrated that you can’t run for very long.
Once you can comfortably run on a treadmill it opens up a whole world of fitness possibilities. There are numerous couch to 5k running plans that you can follow which will help you build up some fitness. These are designed for running outside or inside but are easier to follow on a treadmill. There’s a timer in front of you on the treadmill console.
If you’re someone who struggles with running, maybe you’re overweight or of an older age. Don’t be concerned about just walking on a treadmill. Some people will lose weight doing just that. If and when it becomes easier then add some incline if you still don’t want to run. Whatever you do make sure you get the most out of your treadmill. They and gym memberships cost a lot of money so make sure you get the most benefit from them.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*