The Pros of Running on a Treadmill
By Simon Gould
Exercise of any type we all know is good for you. Just a small amount of exercise does you good, it all helps. It’s when you do it regularly that you start getting important health benefits. Running is something that is very good for you, and it’s good for you whether you do it outside or on a treadmill. As long as you’re breathing heavy and your heart is going it’s doing you good.
3 Major health benefits
1. Weight loss and weight regulation
This is probably the reason most people buy a treadmill. They burn the most calories out of every type of cardio fitness equipment. Burning calories aids weight loss. Running on a treadmill burn around 150 calories every 10 minutes depending on your speed, weight and other factors. Using a treadmill regularly is the secret to losing weight successfully.
Once you’ve achieved your weight loss goal, a treadmill will help you maintain your weight. There are many ways they’ll help you do this. You can try long distance running or high intensity interval training (HIIT). Any activity that has you exercising for 30 minutes will have a significant affect on your weight if done correctly.
2. Heart and lung health
The heart and lungs are called the cardiovascular system, which is the way the heart pumps the blood which is oxygenated in the lungs. When you exercise your muscles need oxygen and so running on a treadmill increases the effectiveness of this system. The heart itself is a muscle, by exercising we’re increasing it’s efficiency and making it work better.
Because of treadmill exercise you’re less likely to get various cardiovascular diseases. Common ones are heart attacks, strokes, heart failures and heart valve complications. These can be fatal or seriously shorten your lifespan and simply running on a treadmill significantly reduces the risk of these occurring. That’s a good reason for using one.
3. Muscle tone and bone density
A treadmill exercises the muscles in a variety of ways. Using a high incline or running at speed are good at working certain muscles in particular. Of course your legs get the most benefit. But your buttocks, arms, back and core all benefit from treadmill work. As you exercise regularly your muscles adapt over time and get stronger. They’ll be able to help you run longer distances and quicker.
Aerobic exercise improves your bone density. As we get older this suffers and getting on a treadmill can help it recover. If you combine this with some strength training you’ll get better results for your bone density and muscle tone. Some people like to hold weights on a treadmill and this is ok for walking but not suitable if you’re running. You need to be able to swing your arms freely.
How much exercise do we need?
As said before any exercise is good for you even if it’s just playing tennis or basketball once in a while. Even a good long occasional brisk walk will do you good. A brisk walk gets the heart going and is something to enjoy when you see the scenery and walk with others. Similar activity is tending to your garden and mowing the lawn.
It’s when we start exercising regularly that we start to get important health benefits. That is what the CDC says. For adults you need to do moderate activity which includes brisk walking for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week. This works out at 30 minutes per day from Monday to Friday. You can even divide the activity into 10 minute blocks.
For jogging and running you don’t need to do it so long for the “important health benefits”. You only need to go for 1 hour and 15 minutes, this works out at 15 minutes per day 5 days a week. Through the above link they give you some activities that are included for moderate and those for vigorous like jogging and running. Pick one you enjoy and take part.
If you’re willing to exercise more
The CDC says there are “even greater health benefits” if you double those numbers. So 5 hours of moderate exercise or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This is a lot but doable and only entails running for 30 minutes per day 5 days a week. This is what I’m starting to do and I feel great. It does require commitment and routine.
Combined with all the aerobic exercise recommended by the CDC they also recommend that you do weight baring exercise on 2 or more days a week. The CDC is very demanding when it comes to the exercise they say we need. We have a page on strength training if you have access to a gym or weights but there are other activities they consider weight baring that may be easier to come by for many.
Treadmill running compared to outside
When it comes to exercise to what the CDC describes there is no difference to running outside or on a treadmill. You are exerting nearly exactly the same effort except with one you’re doing it on the spot. If you want to make treadmill running the same as outside when it comes to the energy cost then the science says run on a 1% incline.
The problem is, and why people think treadmill running is that different, is because people that run outside and run races look down on people who run on treadmills. It’s like they are a second class citizen and you can’t be getting the same benefit by running on a treadmill. Well the fact is you can and do. It’s just another way of getting exercise like rowing indoors compared to on a river or using an elliptical compared to cross country skiing.
Treadmill running routines
Perhaps you’ve heard of the boredom of treadmill running. You may have heard some scare stories of people moaning about running and getting no where. Some variation on the treadmill might help ease any boredom you’re feeling. We have all kinds of routines including speed work which is great for outdoor runners as it improves your speed. It makes you run faster outside.
Often home treadmills will have workout programs you can call upon. They’re often called “hill climb” or “calorie burn” and present a challenge and some variety. You could train for a race distance on a treadmill like the 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. All of those take weeks to build up and gives you something to aim for on a treadmill.
Here are those treadmill speed workouts and they’re something it’s really worth trying if you have a personal best at any distance you’re struggling to beat. The high intensity interval training (HIIT) one is a real challenge:
So as long as you’re exercising it’s good for you. Don’t be persuaded as to which equipment is better than any other. If your heart rate is speeding up and your breathing has got more rapid and harder then you’re doing yourself good. So treadmill running or not it’s all good. A treadmill helps because you can easily see your time and distance on your console.
If you’re finding the treadmill boring do check out the above routines for some variety. If you can do them regularly then you’ll be doing what the CDC says for important health benefits. That’s why treadmill running is good for you and just as good as running outside. If you prefer running outside then do it but don’t neglect the treadmill totally as it may come in use when the weather is bad.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*