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Our body needs exercise to keep our stamina intact. And while staying fit and healthy calls for a lot of work, it rewards us with endorphins that leave us feeling great post-workout. A staple exercise we all know is running. You can level up running workouts with the best treadmills that offer programs with the cardio fit for your needs.
You can now exercise from the comfort of your home but still, feel like you’re running outside. But be aware of how heavy treadmills are so that you can put hem in the right place in your home.
The first run can be confusing with all the options in front of you. You’ll need to know the basic dos and don’ts of running on a treadmill for a safer and more fun experience.
Learning how to run on a treadmill will help you achieve your fitness goals faster. Here’s how you can maximize your workout sessions with one!
What is treadmill running?
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A treadmill machine can help you reach your fitness goals at home by offering more flexible programs than outdoor running. It’s smoother to run on, which helps with balance and pacing. You also have options like speed and incline to amp up your workout sessions.
Though treadmill runs are less torturing than running uphill outside, the results are similar; you may run at a steady pace, but you can choose options that can make race-condition speed and control your speed better. Research has found that the VO2 max, the oxygen we use when exercising, we spend on the treadmill is the same amount when jogging outside.
It is one of the most popular exercise equipment. Once you get the hang of it, you can level up your exercise plan!
Benefits of treadmill running
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Working out on a treadmill is a popular cardio that strengthens the entire body. It’s an addition to a healthy lifestyle that can improve your workout sessions. While it is similar to other cardiovascular exercises, it provides different benefits than other gym equipment and outside jogging.
- Fitness – You can also burn calories faster with HIIT workouts and tone your muscles such as abdominals, legs, lumbar, back, arms, and shoulder. Running on a treadmill is more effective for weight loss than other aerobics but is easier on the joints since you’re flat running.
- Heart– Treadmill running helps control cholesterol levels in the blood to improve heart health by strengthening your heart muscles and lowering blood pressure. Cardiovascular workouts let your heart pump blood smoothly and prevents artery blockage, keeping you safe from heart attacks and other heart diseases.
- Improves sleep quality – Exercising during the day can boost melatonin release, making you sleepier at night.
- Mental Health – Like other physical activities, treadmill running also triggers happy chemicals known as endorphins. It improves your mood and keeps stress, anxiety, and depression at bay.
- Regulates blood sugar – Running also enhances insulin sensitivity; it helps our bodies convert blood sugar/glucose into energy, protecting our bodies from chronic diseases like Diabetes.
Basics for beginners: Learning how to run on a treadmill
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Using a treadmill is easier than it seems! Aside from being a great alternative to running outside, it provides you with controls and programs you can fit into your diet plan. But before you start running, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the basic treadmill running tips to make a smoother and safer treadmill experience.
- Know Your Treadmill
Before learning how to run on a treadmill, you first need to know how to use it. A treadmill’s control panel can look intimidating when using it for the first time. It’s best to read the manual as all models may differ. Most treadmills have the following in their control panel:
- A speed meter – Displays how fast your treadmill is running you. It’s usually in miles per hour or minutes per mile. Here are the measurements by Very Well Fit of miles per hour to miles per minute.
- A Calorie-burn calculator – These are how many calories you’re currently burning while running. However, this display may not be 100% accurate as there are other factors to consider, such as weight, age, sex, etc. But if you continue the same workout daily and the calorie-burn calculator raises, it implies you’re losing weight.
- Pre-set intervals or programs – Gives you the option of customizing your workouts. It allows you to set a speed workout and save it without needing to press or change the speed while running.
- A heart-rate monitor – Knowing your heart rate also helps you know the intensity of your workout and breathing; this is especially important for those with heart conditions. (A wearable monitor is more accurate and won’t require you to hold unto the handrails).
A treadmill needs to be taken care of to perform at its best! They often last 10 years, depending on the model and maintenance. Check your manual and ensure that you take care of it to make the most of your treadmill workouts!
Do your stretches and start slow with a 5-minute walk or an easy jog before picking up the pace to avoid straining your muscles. Warming up delivers oxygen across your muscles and raises your heart rate and body temperature to workout mode.
- Set a Slight Incline
An incline challenges your body as if you’re running uphill. For beginner runners, you can keep the treadmill at a 0% incline to build up stamina first, but a slight incline is best if you aim to burn calories faster.
Set your treadmill’s incline or increase the speed by 1-2 percent. But this will also depend according to your program or workout plan. Others also use a 5-10 percent incline as they jog.
Another way to use an incline without burning out is by doing interval training. Here, you run hard for a short period and cool down for the next in an alternating fashion.
- Keep upright
Keep your balance by maintaining your body upright while running. Leaning forward can cause neck and back pain and make you lose your balance. You can check your posture before and during your workout to ensure your body is in the proper running form.
You won’t need to lean forward as the moving belt is already forcing your feet backward.
- Look straight
Looking down at your treadmill’s console is a natural tendency, especially if you’re not using a pre-set program, but frequently looking down can ruin your running form and leave you distracted. Running while looking down at your feet can cause you to hunch over, leading to back and neck pain.
- Be mindful of your step
Run as you do outside. Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as alert. Avoid taking short and sloppy steps. Slow down if you’re losing rhythm until you’re back on track to run faster.
Also, avoid overstriding. Maintain your feet under your body when running, not behind nor ahead. Keeping a quick stride will help lessen the impact on your legs.
- Stay Hydrated!
Keep a bottle of water close by to rehydrate yourself when working out! According to Very Well Fit, you should drink at least 4 to 6 ounces o water every 20 minutes you are running. Running on a treadmill inside your home can cause you to get dehydrated faster than running outside due to less wind resistance which helps keep us cool.
- Cool down
After your workout, slow down your treadmill or walk for a few minutes. Do not end your cool down until you have a heart below 100 mph or for 5 to 10 minutes. Doing this allows your body to wind down, letting your heart temperature and blood pressure slowly drop.
Forgetting to cool down can lead to a sudden heart rate drop, making you feel light-headed or dizzy. As you may feel tired and want to jump off the treadmill right after your workout, winding down is needed after every exercise. After you’ve cooled down, do post-workout stretches to prevent your muscles from straining later.
Key tips for successful treadmill running
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Now that you’re familiar with the basics, here are some tips to ensure an effective treadmill run. Keeping these in mind will help your workouts be safer and more productive.
Visualize a route
Imagine yourself running uphill or crossing your street when jogging outside. Picturing this will give you a rough sketch of your running program. You can pre-set your treadmill’s controls like adding an incline and increasing the speed to imitate your outside jog.
You also have built-in speed changes in your program, saving you the trouble of pressing anything mid-run. Running outdoors means being exposed to different factors that affect your speed such as wind, traffic lights, hills, and weather conditions. Change your incline or pace with a program to break more sweat to imitate this.
Remember the proper treadmill running form
Maintaining good form prevents injuries and keeps your body balanced as you run. Healthline notes down the correct running form for you to use when running:
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- Keep a good posture and look forward, do not tilt your head down.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and broaden your chest. Make sure you are inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Prevent yourself from slumping your shoulders.
- Relax your hands and let your arms swing on your sides, but avoid side-to-side swinging. If your arms go over your chest, you can end up slouching. Do not let your arms cross in front of your body.
Raise your stride count
Raising your stride count can help improve your training session. Count how often your feet hit the belt in a minute of running, which will be easier since treadmills often have timers. after counting, multiply the number you get to 2 to get your desired stride count. Here’s a quick equation you can use as a basis!
(number of times your feet hits the belt in a minute) x 2 = stride count goal
What you shouldn’t do on a treadmill
Aside from knowing the dos of running on a treadmill, here are the don’ts to remember to avoid injury.
Don’t step on or off while the treadmill is moving
Stepping on or off the treadmill while it’s moving may lead you to lose your balance with the sudden motion change. If you plan on stepping off your treadmill, gradually slow it down, lower its incline and gently step down.
Do the same when going back to your treadmill workout. Picking up where you left off may confuse your body and lead to accidents. Make sure you have everything you need, water, a towel, and headphones, to lessen going down from your treadmill during a workout.
Don’t Hold on to the handrail of the console
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Holding on to the handrail of your treadmill’s console can lead to an inefficient running form, raising injury risks and can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.
Maintain the proper running form by keeping your back straight and your head facing straight ahead. You can practice your running form by making a 90-degree angle with your arms, just as you would when running.
Doing the proper form doesn’t just prevent injury; it lets you carry your weight and moves your muscles more efficiently. Slow down the speed or lower the incline to maintain balance and safety better.
Using handrails as support when running may seem beneficial, but it can make a less effective run as you’re putting your weight on the rails instead of carrying it.
4 tips to make running on the treadmill less boring
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Leveling up your treadmill workouts is one way of keeping you running. Exercising in one place can leave you repetitively looking at the clock and timer. Aside from tackling boredom, the more conscious you are of the numbers, the less productive you can get. But adding a few elements of fun to your treadmill routines can combat this:
Listen to music
Music is one of the key things to making everything more fun! Having music fill your atmosphere can distract you from checking the time. You can create a playlist to keep yourself motivated while running. Additionally, using headphones when running indoors is safer than to run outdoors as you won’t have to worry about any vehicles passing by.
Mix it up
Running at the same pace can tempt you to check the timer displayed on your treadmill while running. Doing intervals can challenge you while improving your workouts
You can break your runs into smaller or digestible sections to prevent burnout. According to Runnin’ For Sweets, you can separate your run into 4 groups of 2 miles for a few minutes if you plan to run for 8 miles. Breaking down your workouts and doing intervals can help pump your blood without the cost of burning out; you won’t realize how fast they are from the constant change!
Staring at nothing and minding your form for a period can leave you bored. Treadmills also provide us with the option to multitask. Aside from listening to music, you can play your favorite podcasts while you run your miles on the treadmill.
You can also watch your favorite tv shows to keep yourself entertained while running. Distracting yourself can divert you from checking the timer. But you’ll still need to be mindful of your running form; being too distracted can cause accidents.
Recruit a friend or personal trainer
Having a friend around can help bring out the best in you! You can also get competitive with your friends and help each other reach your fitness goals. You can motivate one another to increase your speed or run for another mile, but it’s also important to remember that you still have different workout plans and limits.
Hiring a personal trainer can also guide you with the dos and don’ts while keeping you motivated throughout your training session.
Treadmill Running Alternatives
We all have different needs, and sometimes you may be looking for other treadmill alternatives. Many other fitness tools can give you effective cardio workouts similar to treadmills! Here are some recommendations by Medical News Today:
A stationary bike is best for lower-body workouts and can provide back support, depending on the model. Using a stationary bike also lessens injury risks which you are more prone to on treadmills.
Indoor cyclings put less strain on your muscles as they are non-weight bearing and offer low-impact exercises.
A rowing machine is a type of gym equipment that is also low-impact on the muscles. It’s a total body workout compared to most stationary bikes but still provides weight support. The main muscle groups you move using the rowing machine are the calves, quadriceps, and glutes.
It’s also a great upper body workout that exercises your abdominal muscles, arms, pecs, and obliques. Rowing can also be meditative or calming as if you were rowing water. Most of all, it’s a great cardiovascular workout for your heart and lungs!
Having suspension trainers can help you achieve multiple fitness goals since there’s so much you can do with them! They are straps with handles that you can hang almost anywhere. Suspension trainers are portable, adjustable, and used independently. They’re great for muscle workouts to strengthen your core, arms, shoulders, and hips.
Not to be confused with literal rock climbing, vertical climbers are 7 ft tall gym equipment that can mimic climbing! It is a total-body workout machine that provides low-impact exercises and high-calorie burn. Vertical climbers are both an aerobic and cardio workout, making them great for strength-building.
A treadmill is a great training tool to improve your training sessions. Learning the different treadmill running tips new is great for new runners who want to start at a steady pace. Knowing the basics will help you use a treadmill safely and make your routines more effective in achieving your goals.
Now that you know how to run on a treadmill, you can increase your fitness level and further customize your workouts as you go!
I am a physician who cares about healthy living. I strive to be as healthy as I can be so that I can thrive in my own life. By sharing what I know I want to help others to live a healthy life.