According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, over 40 million consumers purchase treadmills each year and the number continues to grow. Treadmills account for over 1/3 of all home exercise equipment sales. So why do so many people choose treadmills and how do they compare to stair machines, stationary bikes and other home fitness equipment?
Ease and Convenience
The number one reason people use a treadmill is convenience. It allows you to exercise even when the weather is bad or the fitness center is closed. You can exercise in the early morning or after dinner or whenever the mood strikes you. You can even use your treadmill in the buff if you don’t feel like washing your workout clothes.
You can read, watch TV, talk with friends, or listen to music or audiotapes while you exercise on a treadmill. You can keep an eye on your kids, wait for files to download, take care of dinner or the laundry and even meditate, think through problems or make grocery lists.
For those who need to stay in the office until five – even when it’s not busy, or who prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own homes, a treadmill is ideal. Also, in some areas and neighborhoods, walking or running exposes one to traffic, muggers or vicious dogs. These hazards are avoided by using a treadmill.
Another reason people like treadmills is because you can just hop on and walk without a great deal of preparation and even if you don’t work terribly hard at it, you still accomplish something. But today’s treadmills make it easy to program in workout routines that simulate hills or vary speeds to enhance the effectiveness of your workout or challenge you to work harder and improve. The control panels are typically user friendly and many machines have built in heart rate monitors.
Clearly a treadmill provides several advantages over walking or running outside. And it is often easier and less expensive than other types of home exercise equipment, but how does it compare in terms of pure cardiovascular workout and calorie burning?
A Better Burn
According to a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, a person using a treadmill for 60 minutes burns an average of 865-705 calories. Check that against other common exercise equipment:
· stair machine 746-637 calories burned
· rowing machine 739-606 calories burned
· stationary cycle 604-5956 calories burned
· cross-country ski machine 678-595 calories burned
Treadmill vs Elliptical Machine
What about the new elliptical machines? An elliptical cross trainer with handles to work the upper body provides a workout that compares to that of a treadmill when it comes to muscles used and heart rate issues. The main difference between the two types of home exercise equipment is that and elliptical machine operates more smoothly and creates less of an impact on bones and joints. This might be good for those with recent injuries or chronic conditions, but it is the impact that helps maintain or improve bone density, which in turn strengthens bones and prevents the loss of calcium.
Most experts agree that a healthy person needs the bouncing and jarring associated with walking or running to keep bones, muscles and joints working properly. A treadmill is one of the few home fitness machines that provide this type of exercise. And most come with a cushioned platform to minimize impact or keep it at an acceptable level. As with any form of exercise, it is a good idea to check with your doctor first if you have health conditions that may make it difficult or unwise for you to participate in certain activities.
With a treadmill, the concept is basically simple. If you want to work harder, you increase the incline or the speed. Usually this is done with a push of the button. An elliptical machine can be adjusted to target certain muscle groups, but it requires some knowledge and usually must be done manually. And because elliptical machines are relatively new to the home fitness market, there are fewer models to choose from and they tend to cost a bit more than the average treadmill. Some people have commented that they feel the elliptical machines can be more difficult to use because the motions do not feel as natural as walking or running. It is a good idea to try out any piece of exercise equipment before buying to see how it feels and fits with your needs.