Using a treadmill for weight loss

Using a treadmill for weight loss and fitness

Using a treadmill is a great way to lose weight and improve your fitness. And although treadmills are among the most popular pieces of exercise equipment bought for home gyms, many sit around laying idle collecting dust.

In this article we'll give you our top ten tips to get the most out of your treadmill so that it becomes the wise investment in your health that it should be and not the expensive clothes rack that it can so often become.

Tip 1 - Buy the best treadmill you can afford

If a treadmill isn't good to use, chances are you won't use it.

Many people buy the cheapest treadmills they can find and then wonder why the belt slips when they're using it or why the motor struggles to reach and maintain a good walking or jogging speed.

The good news for those of us on a budget is that the price of good quality treadmills is continually coming down and the quality and features you get in a treadmill today is vastly superior to what was available for the same price just a few years ago.

When choosing a treadmill, place a higher priority on the quality of the motor and the size of the walking deck than you do on a range of fancy features that you'll probably never use.

The best way to get the best possible value for money that you can is to do your research first and decide what treadmill you actually want, and then look around for the best price you can get that model for.

If you are considering buying a secondhand treadmill from a private seller, just remember that you won't get a warrantee with it and even treadmills that have had little use and have been lying idle for sometime in someone else's home may require expensive repairs after you've got it home and have started to use it.

In fact, be weary of any treadmill that has been left to sit idle for long periods of time because like cars treadmills were designed to be used and may deteriorate quicker laying idle than if they were used regularly.

Tip 2 - Consider renting a treadmill before buying

To help insure that you don't buy the wrong treadmill for your needs, consider renting one for a while before you buy.

Many treadmill resellers who rent and sell new treadmills offer a kind of 'try before you buy' arrangement where you can rent a treadmill for a few months and if you decide to buy that treadmill, the amount of rent you've paid is deducted from the price of the treadmill.

One company we know of who have this arrangement and will deliver a treadmill anywhere in Australia is Fitness Choice who can be found at www.fitnesschoice.com.au.

As well as helping to ensure that you don't buy the wrong treadmill, renting before you buy can help ensure that you don't buy a treadmill when they're really not for you after all.

Tip 3 - Get into an exercise routine as quickly as possible

Once you've got a treadmill, start using it as soon as possible.

The idea here is to establish a daily or weekly routine for using your treadmill as quickly as possible so it's a good idea to walk on your treadmill around the same time each day and on the same days of the week if you can.

Forming an exercise habit is a weight watchers best friend and because you can use your treadmill anytime that suits you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rain or shine, forming an exercise routine when you have a treadmill of your very own makes that much easier.

Tip 4 - Finding the right walking speed for you

Finding the right walking speed is an individual thing, some of us naturally walk slowly and others rather quickly.

As a general rule when starting to walk for exercise we should aim to walk at a speed that elevates our heart rate and causes us to perspire but also allows us to be able to talk out loud without gasping for air.

For most of us, this speed will be between 5kms and 6kms per hour (3 and 3¾ miles per hour).

If you are new to exercise, the best way to find the right walking speed for you is to start walking at a relatively slow speed, say between 3kms and 4kms per hour (2 and 2½ miles per hour) and increase your speed slightly every minute or so until you find the right speed.

Just be mindful if you've used other treadmills that 5kms per hour on one treadmill can seem slightly faster or slower on a different treadmill simply because each treadmill is calibrated differently and some are more accurate at estimating your actual walking speed than others.

Tip 5 - Build up your workout times slowly

To help ensure you get into the habit of using your treadmill regularly, it's important that you don't over-do-it the first few times you use it.

Instead of walking for 2 hours during your first workout and never using your treadmill again because you can't get out of bed the next day, try starting off having very short workouts and gradually but continually build up your workout times over the following weeks and months.

One of the biggest mistakes many people who are new to exercise make is starting at an intensity that is to high and putting themselves off exercise for life as a result.

We don't want you to make that mistake so start using your treadmill for as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day and add extra time to your workouts at a rate of 10% per week or less.

For example, if during your first week you manage to walk for 20 minutes per day on your treadmill and you're ready to increase that amount, increase it to 22 minutes per day the next week, 24 minutes a day the week after and so on.

Giving our body time to get used to new levels of exercise helps prevent overuse injuries and ensures that we are motivated and have enough energy to get the most out of each workout we do.

Tip 6 - Building your workout intensity

Walking for longer amounts of time as we get fitter will help us burn more calories. So too will walking faster. In time, many of us may become so fit walking that we can start to add jogging and even running on our treadmill into our workout routine.

Again, like building longer walks into our routine, the secret to adding intensity to our workouts safely and for best effect is to do so slowly and gradually.

The best way to train our body to walk a little faster or migrate from walking to jogging is to gradually add small increments of speed into our walks for limited amounts of time.

For example, if we can comfortably walk for 30 minutes at 5kms per hour, we might try breaking those 30 minutes up into 6 continuous 5 minute walks where we walk at 5kms an hour for 4 minutes and at 5.5kms per hour for one minute.

Once we can comfortably do that, we might then try 6 continuous walks of 5 minutes where we walk at 5kms per hour for 3 minutes followed by walking at 5.5kms per hour for 2 minutes and so on.

Building intensity into our walks in this way should allow us to progress our fitness and have us burning more calories or kilojoules in no time, but remember that it is best to limit any increases in workout intensity to 10% per week or less.

Tip 7 - Vary your workouts

As far as your body is concerned, your new treadmill may provide you with the only type of workout it ever needs to lose weight and get fitter, but keeping your mind happy may be another story entirely.

Varying your workouts can help keep your mind happy and therefore keep you motivated to exercise regularly for the rest of your life.

Varying workouts can be as easy as walking on your treadmill one day and jogging on it the next. Or it can mean walking on your treadmill 3 to 4 times a week and walking outside on the other days.

It can also mean using other equipment like an exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even working out with a set of dumbells and a Swiss Ball.

Adding variety to your workouts will help you stay motivated and force your body to adapt to new challenges. These two things combined will produce the best long-term results for your weight control and your overall fitness, strength and flexibility.

Tip 8 - Treadmill safety

Staying safe at all times is paramount when we are using our treadmill and storing it.

Here are the top 6 things you can do to help ensure your safety and the safety of others who may come into contact with your treadmill:

  • Always read the operating and safety instructions of your new treadmill carefully before using it for the first time.
  • Always ensure that there is plenty of empty space directly behind your treadmill just in case you stumble and are thrown off the back of the treadmill by the walking belt.
  • Always adjust the speed of the treadmill's walking belt in slow increments.
  • Always wear appropriate walking or running shoes while using the treadmill.
  • Always keep young children away from your treadmill while it is in use.
  • Always keep the treadmill's safety/operating key hidden away from children when the treadmill is not being used.

Tip 9 - Accessories everyone should consider

To get the most enjoyment and use out of your treadmill consider having the following things on or around the treadmill:

  • A pedestal fan which you can place in front of the treadmill to provide a cooling breeze like that naturally found outdoors.
  • A radio, CD player or TV to provide motivational music or programs that can help keep your mind active while you're exercising.
  • A heart rate monitor to help keep your workout intensities at the appropriate level (some treadmills have built-in heart rate monitors so you don't need to go to the expense of buying one).
  • A dry hand towel to wipe your brow when you inevitably start to perspire.
  • An electric circuit breaker between your treadmill and the wall socket to ensure that if there is an electrical surge your treadmill won't get damaged (some treadmills also have these built-in so check your treadmill specifications before buying one).

Tip 10 - Treadmill Maintenance

Most modern treadmills, especially good quality ones should provide you with years of trouble free operation with the minimum amount of maintenance necessary.

At the very least though, most treadmills will require a degree of maintenance which revolves around the following three things:

  • Lubricating the walking belt.
  • Making slight adjustment to the alignment of the walking belt.
  • Adjusting the tension of the walking belt.

This type of maintenance is typically very easy to perform and there are usually simple instructions covering each in the owner's manual that comes with your treadmill.

Although most treadmills today are very reliable and will stay that way for many years, from time to time more complicated maintenance may be required.

If this is the case, we strongly suggest that rather than doing it yourself, you should have the work done by a qualified technician who is happy to make a house-call and do those repairs in your home.

As far as preventative maintenance is concerned, one of the most important things you can do to ensure your treadmill doesn't wear out quicker than it needs to is to, NEVER start your treadmill while you or someone else is standing on the walking belt. Always keep your legs to either side of the walking belt by straddling it when you start the treadmill and only step onto it once the belt has been moving for a minute or two.

Conclusion

Using a treadmill is a great way to lose weight and improve your fitness. And although treadmills are among the most popular pieces of exercise equipment bought for home gyms, many sit around laying idle collecting dust.

In this article we've given you our top ten tips to get the most out of your treadmill so that it becomes the wise investment in your health that it should be and not the expensive clothes rack that it becomes for many people.

Good luck with your weight loss and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.

Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

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