Step Up Your Treadmill Workout
The treadmill is a great indoor exercise machine and often the first one that people think about when wanting to purchase home exercise equipment. Being the most popular machine in sports clubs and gyms, it provides an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise allowing one to improve their cardiovascular fitness when used consistently. Unlike running or walking outdoors, the treadmill workout allows for the control of lighting, temperature, speed, and time. However for those who do the same monotonous jog or walk, it can also be the most boring workout! But, it doesn’t have to be. The treadmill provides many options to exercise that go beyond the norm. Safety is of the utmost importance so before beginning this workout, it is best to have a few things in place. Good walking/running shoes are a must. Make sure laces are securely tied before you begin and keep a water bottle, towel, and a set of 2-3 lb dumbbells handy.
Studies show that listening to music enhances your workout so have your favorite playlist available. However, talking on the phone, texting, watching TV, and reading are not recommended as it can be distracting, taking focus away from the workout, and can even cause injury. Once on the treadmill, pay attention to your posture at all times––keeping shoulders relaxed and back, with chin up and head looking forward. Foot placement should be heel to mid-foot when walking. After warming up on the treadmill for about ten minutes with a brisk walk, perform the following moves with caution.
Walking lunges is a great exercise for the quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteus muscles and can be done on the treadmill but at a very slow speed (1-2 mph depending on your fitness level). Hold on to the front bar and carefully lunge making sure that the knee does not extend beyond the foot. Care must be taken to rise up quickly and step forward to lunge again. Perform lunges for 30 seconds to a minute. The side shuffle or lateral skip is not only fun but also works the inner and outer thigh muscles, which are often neglected when just walking or running forward. To do the lateral skip, turn either to the left or right with the treadmill at a speed of no more than 2 mph initially. Holding on to the side bar (or without) looking forward with knees slightly bent, skip or shuffle landing on the balls of the feet and keeping up with the treadmill speed. Speed can be adjusted slightly higher or lower depending on your fitness level. After 30 seconds to a minute switch over to the other side and repeat.
Skipping forward on the treadmill also alleviates boredom and is a move which we all remember doing as kids. Skip either holding on to the bars or without. The speed of the treadmill can be adjusted according to your fitness level. Bring your knee up to your chest and raise arms above the head simultaneously to make it more challenging. Continue this for a minute or until out of breath. Several strength training upper body exercises can also be done while walking on the treadmill with 2-3 lb dumbbells. While walking at a comfortable pace, perform bicep curls, shoulder press, triceps extension, chest-flys for 15 to 20 repetitions each. With the exception of walking lunges any of these moves can also be performed on a slight incline. Finally, walking backwards on the treadmill provides a new challenge as it not only works the hamstrings and calf muscles but also sharpens the brain as it requires you to think in a different way! By combining all the above moves and performing them for a minute each, for a total of three to four sets, the treadmill workout can be fun and challenging and help break through any fitness plateaus.
Please check with your medical provider before beginning any exercise program.
Aarti Patel serves as the columnist for Fitness Lifestyle. She has a B.Sc. in Health Information Administration and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal and Group Fitness Instructor, and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. She can be reached at
(404)-376-5655; firstname.lastname@example.org. This column rotates monthly along with the Ask the Doctor column by Gulshan Harjee, M.D.
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