How Good is Treadmill Exercise?

Here we are in the end of summer and the onset of inclement weather. Even a somewhat hardcore bicyclist like myself doesn’t ride where there is snow and/or ice present on the bike path. So, what’s a person to do?

My first choice is to go to the health club and ride the Schwinn Airdyne bike, or row on the rowing machine. Those are good calorie burners and run my heart rate up into the zone. But, my health club has lots more treadmills than Airdyne bikes or rowing machines. Most folks opt for the treadmill.

For that reason, I thought you would be interested in an article entitled – How the Treadmill is Killing Your Workout – in Men’s Health News.

They cite a study in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that says, “Walking or running indoors requires less effort than moving at the same speed outdoors.

“Researchers tracked how much energy 14 people ages 20 to 26 burned as they walked on a treadmill compared to walking outdoors, and found that choosing a 3 percent slope on the treadmill most accurately matched the energy requirements of walking on flat terrain outdoors.”

Rough or uneven terrain takes 10 percent more energy than plodding along on your smooth treadmill, according to the study’s head researcher, professor Luigi Fattorini.

If there is a wind you really need to crank up the slope: If there’s a gentle breeze at 9 miles per hour, you expend 5.5 percent more energy than you would without wind.

My own reaction to treadmills is that treadmills are kind of boring. I like the bike for obvious reasons and the rower seems more fun than the treadmill. Both the bike and rower burn calories at a higher calorie rate than the treadmill, but I only walk at a fast pace, I don’t jog on the treadmill.

The headline in Men’s Health News seems a bit excessive. You don’t really need to ditch your treadmill. If you want to get the most out of your treadmill walking, crank it up to a three percent grade and at least you will be simulating the outdoor energy expenditure. I do think it is more fun to be outside, though. More sights, smells, sounds.

Check out my post The Benefits of Exercising in Nature for more good reasons to be outside.


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Filed under biking, Exercise, treadmills

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