Treadmill or Road?
August 26, 2019
By: Marylin Salgado
Before the treadmill became the walking/jogging workout machine of the century, the road was the place to be. Even now, triathletes hit the road when it’s time to run. Ridiculous to get competitive distance running done on a treadmill. But, back to the original idea. In the first days of inventing the treadmill, the thought for its use was not exercise, but to make prison inmates do hard labor. I posted a picture of one of the first treadmills invented during the early 1800’s. The concept for the treadmill as an exercise machine didn’t actually come to life until 1952.
The treadmill has since been updated and many models have been developed. Some even come with LCD screens and a plug- in for head phones. The real benefit has been on Cardiac Medicine and heart patients. Following are some health benefits of exercising on a treadmill.
- As mentioned before, the treadmill has been used for cardiac medical testing. Some tests are the Echo Stress Test, which helps measure heart function. Nuclear Stress Test helps determine heart function and blood flow to the heart. Cardiac Catheterization is performed to look for heart blockage or determine the extent of cardiac disease.
- There are benefits to Diabetic patients, since regular exercise helps control insulin levels and decrease blood sugar levels. In fact, it only takes 20 minutes of treadmill exercise to allow the liver to release its stored glucose. More than 20 minutes improves the benefits of the workout, as it allows the muscles to take in glucose.
- Finally, and simply, there are the benefits of exercising in itself. 20 to 60 minutes of treadmill exercise five days a week will either maintain or improve your cardiac health.
Road exercise has its benefits, as well. A walk, jog or run in the morning (or anytime of day), helps to build strong bones, strengthen muscles, improve or maintain heart health, and of course, assist with weight control by burning calories.
There are many other benefits to hitting the road, such as:
- builds stamina
- burns belly fat
- improves appetite (make it a healthy appetite and don’t sabotage your workout)
- boosts the immune system and helps fight infections and disease
- helps fight insomnia by allowing you to relax and relieve tension
- it improves metabolism and energy levels leaving you feeling young and healthy
- improves focus since walking or jogging delivers oxygen rich blood to the brain
Interval training is a big plus on a treadmill. For instance, you can increase or decrease an incline or speed.
- Interestingly enough, you can also use the treadmill to work sideways or backwards, which can help burn more calories. Walking sideways also strengthens your hips and forces you to work harder, allowing for more fat burn.
- Use distraction, such as a TV. TV’s in gyms serve more than one purpose. One is for entertainment; not everyone likes to hear music during their workout. The other is to help distract you so you don’t pay attention to the time or distance of your workout.
- Get off and on the treadmill. Do a 20-minute workout on the treadmill, get off and do a set of floor exercises, and then come back to the treadmill for another mile or two.
There are disadvantages to both exercising on the treadmill and/or walking or jogging on the road, such as:
- The treadmill can cause stress and damage to the knees, hips and back. This may be caused by the surface and rebound of the belt. Too much rebound on the belt may not be good for individuals with joint problems, so always test a treadmill before buying it, since some models can run in upwards of $2000.
- Treadmills only provide a limited kind of exercise.
- No matter what kind of shoes you are wearing, jogging or running on the road will always add impact and pressure on your knees and feet. (Try running on grass or sand for lower impact exercise).
- Oddly enough, road running can increase the risk of a heart attack for those individuals with cardiac conditions, since they are increasing blood flow and heart rate during the exercise.
- Ladies, wear a sports bra or a regular bra. Either way, wear something to support your breasts. If you have moderately sized to large breasts, running can cause irreversible sagging to this area of your body.
If you are wondering which option offers the best calorie burn, walking on a treadmill offers a lower impact workout then walking on outside terrain, but will not burn as many calories. To accomplish this on a treadmill, you might have to add an incline of 1% or so and then adjust to maximize your workout. This will offer you the advantages of walking outside without the impact on your feet or knees. In the end, it is not about which one will work better for you, but instead which one you will do consistently.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by either option. Try going to the gym and walking on a treadmill. If you have never done so, ask for assistance or simply start at a low speed. 0.5 is nice and slow and will help you adjust to the sensation of being dragged. Once you get used to this, you can work your way up to speed walking or even jogging. As for the road, it is free. Your biggest expense will be a good pair of shoes to avoid as much impact as possible.
And as always, please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
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