Research shows that in order to lose weight safely and keep it off, you need to exercise. And even those who are not overweight benefit from an exercise or workout routine. But many people don’t exercise regularly, which puts them at risk for heart disease, accidents or injuries, and other health concerns. There are many reasons people give why they don’t exercise more. It’s boring, it’s too difficult, they don’t have enough time or they’d rather be doing other things. Some people aren’t sure how to exercise and they are uncomfortable going to a fitness center to work with a trainer. But with a good treadmill and a workout routine that fits your needs, exercise can be enjoyable, convenient and beneficial.
A treadmill is a perfect choice in exercise equipment for many people. It allows you to walk or run in the security and privacy of your own home. Unlike weightlifting or aerobics, you don’t have to use your hands or move your body across the room. Typically, it requires less concentration than other types of workouts, especially if you have a treadmill that allows you to program in a variety of workout components, such as hills, speed changes, and adjustments to maintain a target heart rate.
The type of treadmill workout that is best for you depends on your overall fitness level, what you are trying to accomplish through your exercise routine, and what you enjoy doing. Continuous training is perhaps the most common type of treadmill routine. Essentially, it involves running at a set pace, usually for 20 to 45 minutes. This type of exercise workout is ideal for incorporating some fun activities into your treadmill workout. The majority of our suggestions below are aimed at those who are basically turning on the machine and walking or running until their time is up.
Those who prefer a more demanding workout or who are in training for marathons or other stamina events go with interval training. It consists of shorter bouts of activity performed in quick succession and at a higher intensity. Because this requires more effort and concentration, it may be difficult to let your mind wander or to focus on other activities. How much you have to concentrate depends on the individual but there are still some fun activities listed below that can be added to any treadmill workout.
One of the most important aspects of any exercise routine geared toward improving cardio strength is to be sure you are exercising in such a way that you achieve and maintain your target heart rate. Maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age in years from 220. Most people agree that a good target heart rate zone is 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Because this factor is so critical to healthy, productive exercise, many treadmills come with a heart rate monitor built in, often in the handrails that you hold onto when using the machine. But you can also purchase an inexpensive heart rate monitor from most large department stores, health stores or at hundreds of locations online.
How you choose to achieve your target heart rate, be it walking, jogging, continuous or interval training is up to you. But we have some suggestions to help you make exercise more fun and increase your chances of sticking with it and exercising regularly.
- Tune It Up
Perhaps the most popular way to entertain yourself while using your treadmill is to listen to music. It can help you focus and give you something else to think about while enduring even the most strenuous parts of a workout. It is a good way to check out new music and expand your horizons. Or put in your favorite motivational music - the songs that really get you moving and shaking - and your 45-minute routine will whiz by. There are some treadmill music CDs that have been compiled specifically for those who need a little motivation in their treadmill exercise routine. Use headphones to avoid disturbing family members if necessary.
- Learn While You Burn
Maybe you prefer to lose yourself in a good story. Some people are able to read a print book or magazine while they exercise on their treadmills. Several companies sell book holders that attach to the treadmill and work well as long as you are not bouncing around so much that it is difficult to read the print. Many people listen to books or storytelling on tape or CDs. This is especially productive for those who don’t have time to sit down with a good book or who fall asleep when trying to read in bed.
Mary Gossen had a book she truly wanted to read, but the only time she could find in her busy schedule was in the evening before bed. This didn’t work well for her because she would doze off after just one or two pages. “There is something about reading before bed that puts me right out,” she shared. “But I got the book on tape and listened to it while I walked on the treadmill and I was able to finish it in under a week. In fact, I found myself walking longer than my normal amount of time because I didn’t want to turn off the tape. Now I listen to books on tape all the time while I exercise.”
An alternative is listening to language tapes. This works especially well if you have a vacation planned. You can build your language skills and get in shape for that bikini, and the excitement of the pending trip helps motivate you to get on the treadmill. Place a fan nearby or get one that attaches to your machine and you can even imagine you are already there, enjoying the tropical breezes.
Not able to get away for a vacation? Pick a destination you’d like to visit and then calculate how many miles you walk or jog each workout and plot them on a map. Watch the travel channels on TV or rent a video guide to the area to help provide incentive and distraction.
- Guilt Free TV
Many people watch television while on the treadmill because they say it makes them feel less guilty about watching. A good movie can help you forget you are exercising, and you are probably not going to fill up with popcorn and treats if you watch while you’re on the treadmill. You will probably have to break it up into several segments, but the anticipation to see the end of the movie makes you that much more eager to exercise. Also, by agreeing to exercise everyday when your favorite sitcom reruns, soap or reality TV show is on helps you stick to a regular workout schedule.
Sarah Marcus got hooked on a soap opera while she was home on maternity leave. When she returned to work, she began taping the soap and then watching it while she exercised each evening. “I got to see my soap and my husband got to spend some time with the baby while I exercised. Plus it helped me to lose my pregnancy weight faster.
These are just some ideas to get you started and help make your treadmill workout more enjoyable and hence something you will look forward to and stick with. Maybe you get a headset and talk with a friend on the phone while you workout. Or better yet, set up dual treadmills side by side and make a date out of it. The possibilities are many and whatever keeps you exercising on a regular basis is a good thing. Half the fun can be experimenting to see what works best for you.