If I'm just starting out on the treadmill, where do I begin?

Wendy Batts
First, acquaint yourself with the treadmill by observing a few important areas. Look at the console and identify the speed, incline and stop buttons. These are important to help you adjust your speed and incline during your activity. In addition, if you find yourself needing to stop quickly, you should become very familiar with where the stop button is. Before you begin moving on the treadmill, grab the handles to steady yourself and continue holding on to the rails as the machine begins to remain secure. When you feel comfortable with your walking rhythm, let go of the rails and walk as your normally would. If you are just starting out on the treadmill you will want to begin walking at a speed that you are comfortable with at a zero degree incline. Maintaining proper form (feet pointed forward, shoulders back and head looking straight ahead) is important to decrease unnecessary stress to the joints that could lead to low back and possible knee/shin pain. As a beginner, try to push yourself to walk a total of 20-30 minutes a day for approximately 3-5 days a week.  As you become more familiar with the treadmill, increase your distance, speed and incline for a total of 30-60 minutes a day, 5-7 times a week. Remember to shake things up a bit so that you give your body a break and avoid boredom or potential injuries. Try different machines every other day, or if the treadmill is your favorite machine, vary your intensities on different days (for example, ramp up your incline on Tuesday and increase your speed on Wednesday).

It is recommended to start off with 20-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity 5-7 days per week. These guidelines are appropriate for improvements in health and daily living and as a beginner, prepare you for greater demands of cardio training in the future. When performing this type of cardio training, it is recommended that you maintain a low to moderate intensity level of 60 - 75% of your maximum heart rate. Should the initial duration and intensity seem too taxing for you at first, you can reduce the duration to 10 minutes and perform two shorter bouts of cardio throughout the day until your endurance is better able to support the previously mentioned recommendations. In order to make sure that your are hitting your appropriate intensity levels and able to track your progress, it is recommended you incorporate the use of a heart rate monitor for feedback.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.