Treadmill Pros and Cons – Read Before Buying

By Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Treadmills are undoubtedly one of the most effective fitness machines ever made! It is convenient and functional equipment geared towards goal actualization. As treadmills gain more popularity, patrons and intending patrons often feel the need to acquaint themselves with the machines’ advantages and drawbacks; what makes the equipment tick, and what’s so not great about running indoors? Well, you deserve a satisfactory answer to this well-meaning inquiry and this article will grant all the answers you seek. So let’s take an insightful look at the pros and cons of using a treadmill and if it is worth it’s salt!

The Pros of Using a Treadmill

Convenience

It is a no-brainer that treadmills are as convenient and user-friendly as can be. It is specially designed for busy fitness enthusiasts or individuals who want to work out from their comfort zone and on their terms. Take for instance the busy mom who is encumbered in mom duties and barely has the time to eat, not to mention making a quick stop at the gym. But with the treadmill, she can achieve her dream body and maintain a clean bill of health while keeping a watchful eye on her toddler. She doesn’t even need to hire a babysitter!

Or perhaps, you are a corporate executive who works round-the-clock and don’t have the luxury of time to exercise. Well, you could buy a treadmill and workout from your office while responding to emails (you’d only have to learn how to multi-task). Whatever the case, a treadmill is a convenient option that is ever-ready to satisfy your fitness needs.

Incorporates Hill Training

One of the primary attractions of treadmill running is uphill simulation. Users who live in regions without hills or elevated terrains find this feature especially thrilling. More so, uphill running is as fantastic as it is beneficial. It improves leg strength and cardiovascular endurance. This is all thanks to its incline feature; most commercial-grade treadmills are equipped with a 12 percent or higher incline grade. You can also practice for an upcoming race using this feature.

Advanced treadmill models also allow users to create a customized course profile, so they can simulate a specific course they are training for. And even if you are not an athlete practicing for a race, you can switch terrains and trails for a more engaging and effective workout. On the whole, you can simulate different race terrains without physical inconveniences such as slippery roads and bad weather.

Treadmill running is Kinder to your Joints

Because most treadmills are engineered with a shock absorption mechanism, they place less stress on the joints. When the feet connect with the running path, the resulting impact is minimal to your ankles, knees, and other lower body joints. Of course, this protective cushioning doesn’t apply to outdoor running where the foot directly engages the ground.

However, if you have knee or joint issues, you should consult your doctor before using a treadmill. And while treadmills have effective shock absorption properties, it doesn’t rule out the importance of wearing running shoes. Running shoes offer an additional protective layer against friction and injuries. Plus, most are designed to maximize running efficiency.

Bad Weather has Got Nothing on Indoor Training

Running outdoors amid heavy rain, snow, blizzard and the like is nothing short of a nightmare! Even hot or humid weather can make running burdensome. You may be a pro at running through inclement weather conditions (because you love the challenge or are simply an adrenaline junkie), but it is utterly dangerous and meaningless to do so. Some weather conditions may catch you unprepared and throw you off your targeted path, leading to injuries or unprintable casualties.

Extremely freezing and hot temperatures, thunderstorms, raging winds to mention but a few – are considered unsafe for running. However, an indoor treadmill eliminates all the risks associated with running outdoors during particularly “grumpy” weather. You can comfortably run indoors even if it is raining cats and dogs outside, hence, you won’t waste any time attaining your goals.

Guarantees Safety

Cases of runners encountering wild animals or even unscrupulous humans while taking a run are not uncommon. While most of these cases are not fatal, some don’t end well. Though it is advised to run in well-known, guarded, or busy trails, you may not always have access to these security-focused areas. So if your only option is to run in a secluded trail, you should banish the idea and opt for a treadmill instead.

Truth be told, you will get nearly the same outcome whether running indoors or outdoors, so don’t compromise your safety. Treadmills make a safer option and guarantee protection against animals and other dangerous outdoor elements. Additionally, if you can’t make time to run during the day, you can always use the treadmill at night, in the safety of your home. You will agree that this is a much safer alternative than running outdoors when darkness has descended.

The Cons of Using a Treadmill

Lacks Variation

Ask any core treadmill runner and they will tell you that treadmill running does not compare to outdoor running in terms of speed. Most treadmills have a maximum speed of 12 mph which does not hold a candle to the slowest sprint speed. Thus, it is next to impossible to perform sprints and extremely short or fast intervals on a treadmill.

More so, treadmills do not simulate downhill running, to the utter disadvantage of athletes preparing for races with extensive downhill paths like the Boston Marathon. Plus, not all users are accustomed to uphill motions, so they may find it difficult to navigate.

Can be a Tad boring and Monotonous

You’d have to be a diehard treadmill fan not to notice the monotony of treadmill workouts. Let’s face it, treadmill running isn’t as fun as running outdoors. As such, users have to make do with the somewhat boring workout patterns until they hit their mark. Some experts and certain “schools of thought” also believe that the monotony of treadmill running makes it a tad less effective than outdoor running.

One such study conducted by researchers at the University of Stockholm found a noticeable difference in the performance output of individuals running outside and those using a treadmill. The study participants were instructed to run at their pace on an indoor treadmill and an outdoor trail. The results showed that they ran faster outdoors while maintaining the same perceived effort level. According to this study, running outdoors poses more difficulty than running indoors.

Has a Steep Price Tag

A treadmill is anything but cheap. It costs a pretty penny to buy and maintain. An advanced treadmill with all the bells and whistles costs between $1,000 and above. These are equipped with all the basics for an efficient workout. It is important to note that price varies from vendor to vendor. As such, you should check out various fitness vendors and stores to perform due diligence. Ensure to buy from reputable vendors as well. Finally, know the key areas to look out for when buying a treadmill, so you don’t end up with a substandard or inferior-quality product.

Another con of buying treadmills aside from their steep price tag is their maintenance cost. No matter how top-grade the model is, you’d have to invest in lubricants to keep it running smoothly. Also, some parts require replacement every few years, and if you are not tech-savvy, you’d have to hire a professional to do that – which costs more money.

Lacks the Feel of Nature

One advantage of outdoor running is its inclination to the sights and sounds of nature. Running outdoors exposes the mind to the wind, sun, flowers, trees, and all other beautiful elements of nature that serve as food for the mind. As such, no two runs are the same and there’s enough stimulation and challenge to keep you going.

Ultimately, outdoor runs provide a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, treadmill running lacks this element and tends to be less stimulating than outdoor runs. However, there are modern treadmills that offer scenic trails around the world, albeit virtually. Though this does not compare to the real thing, it should suffice.

Consumes Space

Treadmills are far from space-friendly! Setting up a treadmill in your home demands considerable space; workout space inclusive as you wouldn’t want your outstretched legs or extended height to collide with the wall and ceiling of your home. Treadmills are available in different sizes with most being long and wide and a few compact models.

But even the compact versions necessitate running space. So before buying a treadmill, it is wise to note the specifications in comparison to the space in your home. If a particular model is too big for your floor or leaves minimal running space, you should consider other options.