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Pros and Cons of the Treadmill

If you enjoy walking or running, sometimes exercising outside just isn't an option, so the treadmill is your saving grace. It's one of the most common pieces of gym equipment used, so check out some of its benefits and disadvantages.

Pros Cons
  • Rain, sleet, snow, blazing sun, and pitch black can't keep you from using the treadmill, so no matter what the weather or time of day, you can always get in a workout.
  • The terrain is always free of rocks, trash, dog poo, and ice, so you don't have to worry about where you're stepping. You can count on it being smooth and safe, which can help you avoid injury.
  • If you don't belong to a gym, treadmills aren't cheap and you'll end up spending between $1,500 and $4,000 for a good one.
  • Treadmills require power, so they're not exactly the greenest type of exercise. Running outdoors only burns calories, not electricity.

To see the rest of the pros and cons,


Pros Cons
  • The surface of a treadmill is more forgiving than pounding concrete or asphalt, so it's easier on your joints.
  • It's a safe way to burn calories if you're afraid to exercise outside in your neighborhood.
  • You can work out using an incline, which burns more calories and effectively tones your legs and booty.
  • Newer treadmills have a variety of programs so you can do several interval workouts that replicate outdoor terrain even though you're inside.
  • Since you can control the speed and duration of your workout, you can customize the intensity to meet the needs of your fitness goals. It's great if you're doing speedwork and need to run at a specific pace for a certain distance, but it's also great if you need to do an easy run for muscle recovery the day after a hard run. Just set the speed and hop on, and it'll prevent you from running too fast.
  • The readout keeps track of your workout data including time, speed, distance, and calories burned, so you can monitor your progress.
  • You can watch TV or read while on the treadmill, which is especially great for passing the time on long runs or walks.
  • The moving belt propels your legs, so you're not working as hard as you would running the same speed outside, which translates to fewer calories burned.
  • If you're training for a race, you'll be missing out on training in extreme temps, wind resistance, blaring sun, precipitation, and on an uneven surface.
  • The treadmill belt may be too narrow or short for your body, so you'll compensate by running with a shorter stride and not swinging your arms as freely.
  • The monotony of the treadmill can be so boring that you exercise for less time.
  • If you're not paying attention, you could misstep, fall, and get propelled backward.
  • The readout on the machine may not be as accurate as other devices, like specialty heart rate monitors and the Nike+ Sportband.
Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
olaf771 olaf771 7 years
Hello, Living in the South West of England, where the rain is a constant feature, you would think the treadmill in my garage gets a lot of use. But it doesn't replicate the running motion very well, the floor is thrown back, instead of being pushed back by the power of your legs. So the treadmill is a poor substitute for running in the real world. But it has remarkable value in pacing and aerobic development. As for dropping stuff on the treadmill, if you adopt the attitude, that you run on the treadmill as a practice/training for the real thing, then having the ipod tidy strapped on to your arm and the wires away under the running shirt it works really well. Plus the runners out there who would wish to ban iPod's at amateur sporting events wouldn't be able to poke fun at us either. I recently ran a 10km race in Newquay, Cornwall, England! Where there was a huge sign near the start and finish proclaiming, iPods/MP3 players banned, you will be disqualified. When the nights get dark again though, the running machine will be up and running again, if only I could hook up the belt to a generator and run something useful in the house, now there would be a green alternative!:-)
Wild-Magelet Wild-Magelet 7 years
I agree that the treadmill is tedious, but if I can't find someone to go for a walk with me, I'd rather be safe than sorry, and prefer to exercise indoors. I'm getting to the point where I've had enough of "working out", though, as opposed to exercise. I think I'm going to look into summer activities like golf and tennis, something that's fun and coincidentally exercise as well. I find the concept of working out in the gym a bit odd when I actually think about it. Also - I'm constantly paranoid about faceplanting on the treadmill and getting thrown off, hee. It hasn't happened to me yet, although I do seem to have a habit of dropping my iPod and having THAT hit the wall behind the treadmill. Thank goodness for heavy-duty cases!
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I kind of like the treadmill, but only for short runs. Otherwise, they are really boring. I do like the fact that they cushion your stride a bit and that they have displays that tell you how long you've been running, but there's no change in scenery, so it gets kind of boring.
missyd missyd 7 years
ah i see! Thanks for the info!
susanec susanec 7 years
I hate the treadmill, I feel like I hyperextend my knees (which I don't do on the trail) and I get way too bored. I can almost always do something outside instead or swim if I have to stay in.
missyd missyd 7 years
Intrigued - What is a GU?
lydialee_home lydialee_home 7 years
Just like runningesq - I only go for the treadmill when I cannot find someone to run with me. My neighborhood is save, but I exercise early in the morning (around 5:30am), and it is still dark outside. I just prefer to have a partner to run with me instead of running by myself. As for the GU - I got the mint chocolate favor last year :)
runningesq runningesq 7 years
yay ! I know a lot of people absolutely hate the consistency, but I don't think they're that bad. esp since you suck them down pretty quickly. I'm pretty sure GU is doing holiday flavors soon... I think I heard rumors of vanilla gingerbread and mint chocolate..
runningesq runningesq 7 years
3000 mi/ year? nice work, spacekat! I suppose it really is a matter of preference. I will also say that it's easier to do speedwork on a mill because I can control the speed so easily (and specifically). How are the GUs treating you ??
runningesq runningesq 7 years
who can read while running? that said, the ONLY time I'll run on the dreadmill is if it's too dark outside and I can't find a running buddy. Ice isn't a problem -- get some yakTraks !
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