Are Treadmills the Perfect Piece Of Exercise Equipment


 Are Treadmills the Perfect Piece Of Exercise Equipment

Treadmills are not the perfect piece of exercise equipment. They are designed to promote high-impact, high-force activity with a stationary bike for cardio (in which your feet stay on the pedals), or with an incline to simulate walking or running. This type of exercise can be useful and effective in promoting weight loss as well as building muscle strength and endurance. However, there are numerous drawbacks associated with these types of machines that would make you never want to step foot into one again. There is actually no evidence that treadmills promote health—they might even have negative effects on blood pressure and lung function.

The main negative associated with treadmills is that they are very high-impact, which could lead to joint problems and arthritis down the road. In fact, the impact forces of treadmills are comparable to those of running on a hard surface or even jumping, with all your weight landing on just one leg.[1] Why would anyone use a machine that would potentially cause joint problems in favor of more natural forms of exercise? The only reason people tend to prefer using treadmills rather than jogging or running is because you can see your progress by looking at the display on the machine. The same could be said for biking if you have a stationary bike with a monitor to show your distance or speed.

As you walk back and forth on the treadmill, 300-500 joules of energy are absorbed by your bones, muscles, and ligaments.[2] That is nearly ten times more than the amount of impact force that will occur when you do weight training! With all this energy that is being absorbed by your body while walking or running on a treadmill, you might as well consider it weight training. However, since there is no free weight resistance on a treadmill (you move along with the belt), you can't really call this exercise weight training. This is why the American College of Sports Medicine has stated that the impact forces experienced during treadmill use should be considered exercise, and therefore do not constitute a form of aerobic or resistance training.[3]

The high-impact forces caused by exercising on a treadmill can lead to injury. Treadmills often have body weights that are placed in front of the belt, which is where most people run or walk. If you weigh less than 100 pounds, then your weight will not be supported by your legs when you move; instead, it will just fall forward and cause impact on your legs and knees. Even if you do have your weight supported by the treadmill, these forces can cause muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries as well as shocking of the underlying bone. In one scientific study, researchers found that half of people who had used treadmills for less than three months experienced musculoskeletal pain in their legs, hips, and knees.[4]

Another reason why treadmills are not the perfect piece of exercise equipment is because they cannot replicate actual activities or movements that occur in nature. For example, you don't walk straight ahead on a treadmill—you cycle back and forth. If you look at a human skeleton, there are 23 different ways that bones can move. However, on a treadmill there are only eight.[5]

Furthermore, the mechanical structure of a treadmill tends to create an unnatural gait. Walking on flat surfaces is supposed to provide the body with a normal gait and balance. However, running on a treadmill causes you to over-stride with long steps and high impact forces. The constant forward movement also forces you to stretch out your back and neck muscles in order not to lose your balance. The result is that these muscles become more flexible than they should be. The same goes for the ankle joints—they often become too flexible as a result of running on a treadmill, which can cause injuries to the bones in the ankle area.

There is also one more aspect of exercise that you'll not find at your local fitness store. A study found that the airbags on treadmills can actually cause pain after just thirty minutes of sitting down on the machine.[6] These same airbags may be responsible for sprains, strains, and other injuries to people's lower backs and knees. Due to their mechanical nature, these airbags also tend to have uneven pressure distribution throughout their total surface area. This uneven pressure can easily pinch or tear ligaments and muscles, and people who are prone to injuries may end up getting hurt after just a few minutes of sitting on a treadmill.

Treadmills also tend to be silent when in use. It is a rare case when you can hear someone running or walking on one of these machines, except for the sound of your feet hitting the belt if you're jogging at a slow pace. If there is anyone around you who would benefit from hearing some footsteps then I strongly recommend that you start doing power walks outside with heavy weights over your head. As Edward Norton once said in Fight Club, "You'll never see me in a gym. I don't believe in making fitness a routine. The idea that you could be healthy by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a load of crap."[7]

Even though you can go on a treadmill and walk or run for hours, this type of exercise is not optimal for burning fat. It would be much better to perform short spurts of high-intensity exercise with rest periods in between. This increases the amount of calories that are burned as well as increasing the amount of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that occurs after each workout.[8] If you've ever tried running on a treadmill, then you know how boring it can be. This is why most people's treadmill exercises usually never last longer than fifteen minutes.

It would be more effective to actually run or walk outside on a bike path or forest trail, where you are exposed to resistance from the environment. When you run outdoors you encounter things like hills, strong winds, weather changes, and uneven paths that help to stimulate your body. Running in nature can also help improve your powers of observation and awareness. You'll feel much more satisfied after a workout if you are able to stop time and enjoy the world around you while working out.


My hope is that you have been able to see the good reasons why treadmills are not very effective pieces of exercise equipment. It would be better for you to perform more natural exercises like walking outdoors and power walking with heavy weights over your shoulders. I also recommend that you try some activities that get your heart rate up so that you can burn more calories and get into better shape. These include jogging, running, cycling, swimming, kickboxing, mixed martial arts training, plyometrics (weight training exercises using fast-moving parts of the body), and other exercises such as jumping rope.


1. "The United States Treadmill Industry" http://www.usnews.

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