It may be one of the oldest and most popular pieces of gym equipment around, but that doesn’t mean that it is past its prime. The treadmill is both familiar and daunting at the same time – and with good reason – during the early 1800’s, one of its first uses was to torture prisoners. Despite the fact that the treadmill has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years, and has been used to do everything from milling grain to toning thighs, it is one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment purchased for home use. And whether it feels like torture, or like a great experience, this incredible machine deserves a closer look.
There are some obvious advantages to incorporating a treadmill into your regular workout, but some disadvantages as well. There have also been some recent improvements to the traditional design that are worth highlighting if you are either bored or uncomfortable with the traditional treadmill experience.
One of the advantages of the traditional treadmill is that its use is very intuitive. Almost everyone is able to walk comfortably, and to use the treadmill, all you have to do is just that – walk. If you are feeling adventurous, running is also an option, but either way, there isn’t much to it. It is a good option for those of us with minor injuries or with pain when running on pavement as the walking/running surface is padded making it more comfortable. The ability to adjust incline and speed are also unique advantages as it allows for hill or interval training without leaving the comfort of your gym or home. There are some disadvantages as well, however, which most significantly include the fact that when on a treadmill the ground is moving underneath you as opposed to when you are walking on the ground and propelling yourself forward through space. The difference may seem subtle, but it is not insignificant and is why a treadmill should not be exclusively used when training for actual running events like marathons. Another disadvantage is that it does not necessarily demand intensity, and all to often, users adopt a leisurely pace that doesn’t provide significant strength nor cardiovascular improvement.
Like any good technology, though, the newest iterations of the treadmill highlight the advantages and attempt to eliminate the problems. The two newest treadmills in this space are the Peleton Tread and the Assault AirRunner. Both pieces of equipment attempt to improve on the tried and true machine. The Peleton Tread solves the motivation issue by utilizing a large screen that connects to running classes – akin to spin classes – in order to motivate, plan interval training sessions and play music to keep you engaged and pushing yourself. The AirRunner makes a better attempt to recreate more natural walking and running mechanics by eliminating the motor that spins the track, thereby forcing you to engage more of the same muscles natural walking and running recruit, for a more life like workout and experience.