As days get shorter and temperatures drop, many outdoor walkers and runners head indoors and hit the treadmill. For many, the transition means that exercise becomes less consistent. Without the incentive of outdoor enjoyment and time away from the stresses of home and work, it becomes harder to stay motivated. But treadmill workouts can be still be fun and effective. The trick is to vary your workout from day to day. Try these strategies the next time you lace up for a run or a walk indoors.
- Use minimal incline for “flat” runs. Part of the challenge of running or walking outdoors is overcoming small obstacles along the way. Wind resistance, curbs, even small inclines on a sidewalk or running path offer an exerciser challenges that help to make a workout effective. A treadmill workout includes none of those challenges, and in fact, the moving belt even assists the runner to a small degree. To compensate for this assistance, try adding 1.0 incline for a “flat” run or walk. This small amount of incline isn’t enough to feel like a hill, but it helps to keep the body challenged.
- Defeat boredom with hills. Adding significant incline is a great opportunity to build strength and shift some of the workload from the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thighs to the hamstring muscles on the back of the thighs. Try increasing resistance every five minutes during your workout to see how high you can climb without decreasing the speed.
- Use the keypad for speed intervals. One of the benefits of working on a treadmill is that it is easy to monitor or change your speed. So use treadmill technology to challenge your pace. If your standard pace is 4.0 mph, try alternating speed intervals of 3.5 m.p.h. and 4.5 m.p.h. or challenge yourself even more by alternating between speeds of 3.0 and 5.0. Many treadmill models have keypads that allow the user to program preset numbers into the machine so that toggling the speed button every few minutes isn’t necessary.
These tips will keep any walker or runner in shape during the winter months. Grab your iPod, lace up your shoes and stay fit and motivated indoors.