Not only is it important to find a treadmill that suits your
needs but once you’ve got it you also need to ensure that
you use it correctly. Below are some hints and tips for a safe
and effective workout.
The treadmill should be positioned away from walls, windows
or any items that could potentially cause injury in the case
of a fall. Make sure that any power cables are out of the way
so that you will not trip over them when stepping on or off the
Before using your treadmill for the first time, read the user
manual carefully and try out the different control panel functions
such as the speed, incline and emergency stop buttons. Only get
on the treadmill once you are confident that everything works
properly and that you know how to operate it safely.
If your treadmill came with a safety cut off clip or tether,
always use these when exercising. If the machine has an emergency
stop button instead, make sure that you know where it is. If
your treadmill is equipped with any safety bars or siderails,
use these when stepping off the machine.
Posture and positioning
Take care of your posture while exercising. Whether walking
or running, keep your shoulders back and head up looking forward,
not down. Relax and use your normal walking or running stride
length, swinging your arms easily at your sides. Let your heels
land first and push off with your toes. You might find it helpful
to have a mirror on the wall to check your movements.
You should run at the front of the belt, as this is safer than
allowing yourself to drift towards the back, and you will also
be able to easily reach the control panel. Take care to also
stay in the centre of the running surface, not towards either
Always start your workout slowly to warm up properly. Walking
or slow jogging at around 3 miles per hour is suitable and should
be done for at least 5 to 10 minutes. This will increase your
heart rate, blood flow and body temperature and reduce the risk
of injuries. Ideally you should also do some stretching exercises
as part of your warm up to increase the joints’ movement
and further reduce the risk of injuries. Hold each stretch for
a minimum of 15 seconds.
If you haven’t had much experience of using a treadmill,
stick with low speeds until you start to feel more comfortable.
Increase you maximum speed and incline levels gradually, ideally
over several weeks. Remember that it’s not just the speed
at which you run that is important, adding incline helps you
to get your heart rate up and burn more calories.
Note that running on a treadmill is easier than running on the
road at the same speed, due to the lack of air resistance and
the fact that you are running on a moving surface. If you want
the effort to be equivalent to road running at a certain speed,
add a one or two percent incline to the treadmill. The above
factors as well as deck cushioning also mean that the impact
to joints and muscles is significantly reduced when running on
a treadmill compared to the road. If you want to reduce the landing
shock even further you can try exercising at a slower speed on
a steeper incline, which will still require the same amount of
effort but with less risk of injury to joints and muscles.
One of the safest and most effective ways to exercise is to
stay within your own target heart rate range. If you have a pulse
sensor of any kind, check it at regular intervals to ensure you
are in the correct heart rate zone. Better still, if your treadmill
comes with specific heart rate workout programmes these will
automatically adjust speed and incline to keep you in the target
zone. Heart rate training has been proven to assist both with
weight loss and in improving general performance. Please note
that heart rate monitors may not be suitable for people
If you find you easily get bored while exercising, place the
treadmill so that you can look out a window or, even better,
watch television. If your treadmill has a reading ledge, use
it to catch up on a good book while burning off those calories.
To keep your motivation up and make using your treadmill more
enjoyable it is also important to add variety to your workouts.
If your machine comes with different workout programmes, use
any that are suitable for your particular fitness level and goals – they
can be great for spicing up your workouts. If your machine is
more basic you can still vary your training by adjusting the
speed and incline and keep motivation up by setting small realistic
goals, one at a time. Adding more variety to your workouts is
often the key if you seem to get stuck at a certain fitness level
or weight plateau.
Don’t forget that cooling down is just as important as
warming up. Reduce the incline and return to walking or very
gentle jogging for a few minutes at the end of your workout.
Some treadmills come with specific cool down programmes to ensure
that your heart rate properly returns to normal. Ideally you
should finish off with some stretching exercises for all your
major muscle groups as well.
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