Why Is Walking on a Treadmill Harder for Some People?
Walking is one of the simplest and most underrated methods of exercise that almost everyone can do. While it’s recommended to walk outside amongst nature as studies show many health benefits associated with time spent in nature. On top of this, when you encounter shifting terrain, it results in a more intense workout as you end up working muscles you might not have otherwise.
So, what about when you walk on a treadmill? Some people find walking on a treadmill to be more difficult than simply walking around the block or even utilizing a nature trail. In this article, we are going to compare walking on a treadmill vs. walking outside as well as give you some tips on what to avoid doing, best practices to get the most out of your exercise, and some insight into an appropriate length of time to be on one.
Walking on a Treadmill vs. Walking Around the Block: What’s the Difference?
So, we already know that walking on a nature trail that exposes you to changes in terrain is going to be more challenging than simply walking at a steady pace with no changes to the incline. This obviously means that your muscles will not benefit as much as they could if provided a greater challenge.
Though, one upside is that the treadmill is great for improving heart health if done correctly. On top of that, it is much easier to track your progress as the analytics are right in front of you.
So, why do some people find the treadmill more difficult? Well, the belt of the treadmill thrusts you forward meaning your hamstrings are not fully activated. This causes your quadriceps to do most of the work.
Additionally, those who struggle with balance will find the treadmill to be more challenging due to a common phenomenon of feeling dizzy when using the treadmill. This is due to a disconnection between the brain and the body. The brain thinks you’re physically moving forward when your body is actually staying put while your legs move.
Mistakes To Avoid
You might assume that walking on the treadmill is a pretty straightforward training method, but you might be sabotaging yourself without even knowing it.
Here are a few mistakes that many people make that you should try to avoid:
- Ignoring Treadmill Safety Instructions – One example of this is hopping on the treadmill at full speed. It’s not uncommon to see gym goers using this method to sprint for a short time, break, then sprint again. This is not only unsafe and can result in serious injury, but it can get you kicked from the gym.
- Leaning Too Far Forward – Be sure to check your posture when walking on the treadmill. Don’t lean too far forward or backward.
- Holding Onto the Handrails – It’s fine to grip the handrails if you lose your balance for a moment or if you need to get your baring when you get started but try to avoid holding them throughout your entire session. Doing this can affect your posture negatively.
- Overstriding – This happens when your gait is so wide that your heel hits the belt far in front of your body when it should be landing closer to your body instead. Try taking shorter steps in order to get better propulsion.
- Not Wearing the Right Shoes – It cannot be overstated that wearing the right shoes can either make or break your experience when training on a treadmill. Shoes that are not supporting your weight appropriately can lead to unnecessary pain and ultimately hinder your progress and endurance.
- Forgetting to Use Your Arms – Your arms should not only be off the handrails, but they should be moving with your stride. This will help you move faster and even burn more calories during your session.
Best Practices for Treadmill Usage
Just as there are mistakes you should avoid making when walking on a treadmill, there are also tricks you can use to your benefit to get the most from your exercise.
A few of these include:
- Changing Your Routine – Try increasing the incline during your session or even alternating between speeds. Whatever is going to be more of a challenge than you’re used to will help improve your performance.
- Add Dumbbells – Adding weights will cause your body to work harder during your exercise, thus burning more calories. If you’re not a fan of dumbbells, you can also try a weighted vest.
- Stay Consistent – It’s important to stay consistent in your workout routine for five days out of the week for at least 30 minutes. The great thing about treadmills is that they are convenient and can be done at home and even while working.
How Long Should You Walk on a Treadmill?
One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is how long should you walk on a treadmill? The ideal amount of time you should be spending on the treadmill will depend entirely on what your goals are. With any treadmill workout, you should try to start out with a 5–10-minute warm-up. This gets the blood flowing and primes you for an effective workout session.
If your goal is weight loss, you should shoot for a total of 150 minutes on the treadmill every week. This would roughly equate to 30 minutes a day, five days out of the week. Alternatively, you could walk for 50 minutes a day, three days out of the week. During these sessions, you should aim for a heart rate of 50-60% of your max heart rate.
If your goal, however, is cardio endurance you should be walking for a minimum of 30-60 minutes every day, for five days out of the week. During these sessions, your heart rate should also be around 64-76% of your max heart rate.
Many people find the treadmill more difficult because it focuses more on the quadriceps due to the mechanism of propulsion. Additionally, many people experience dizziness due to a disconnect between the body and brain while using the treadmill. And while there are many common mistakes you can avoid which will help you achieve better results there are also best practices to follow that will help you along the way.
The amount of time you should be spending on the treadmill will depend on what your fitness goals are including things like weight loss, cardio endurance, and step counts. No matter your goal, you should incorporate warm-ups with every workout and ensure that you hit your target heart rate for optimal results.