Decoding your Treadmill

All those flashing buttons are enough to confuse the most seasoned exerciser. Joanna Hall puts your treadmill display through its paces

QUICK-START BUTTON

Don’t be intimidated by the variety of programmes on some treadmills, sometimes the simplest approach is the best: press Quick Start and go. For running, aim for between 8-14 kph. As for walking, which is great for body toning, make sure your pace is at your optimum walking speed and not a saunter around the shops – opt for between 5.5-7.5 kph to see results.

MISS OUT ON YOUR METS/ WATTS
Ignore the Watts display – it relates to the power output of the machine. METs refers to the energy used above your metabolic rate and is more often used for research, so don’t get hung up on it.

GO FOR GRADIENT
Despite there being 264,157 miles of pavement in the UK – it’s rarely at a 0 per cent gradient, so mimic the outside environment and add at least 1 per cent gradient or more if you want to challenge your buttocks and hamstrings. Don’t go beyond 7 per cent, as this might force you to compensate on technique and posture.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT CALORIES
Some treadmills have up to 25 per cent error rate on their calorie information so, while you may be motivated to exercise until you have burned off that chocolate bar, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Increasing the challenge of your workouts is more important than calorie loss.

KICK UP YOUR KPH
If you’re serious about improving your cardiovascular fitness, try interval training, where you vary the pace of your walking or running. You’ll burn more calories and get better results in the stamina of your heart and the efficiency of your lungs and working muscles.

USE THE COOL DOWN BUTTON
Warm-ups and cool downs are important – they return the heart to a normal rate and return the blood to the heart tissue. You can also use the side of the treadmill to stretch your calves and hamstrings.

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