For those who are used to running outdoors, running on the treadmill can seem boring and difficult. It’s easy to dismiss the treadmill with all its flaws, but, if your goal is to make running a habit or if you’re training for specific race, you’re doing yourself a disservice by skipping treadmill workouts entirely.
Treadmills often get a bad rap. While there aren’t any epic views, the machine is always there for you when you need it. If you’re starting a running routine—or any type of exercise habit—consistency is key, and treadmills make it easy to stick with a program and stay on track year-round. You also don’t have to worry about snowy weather, crazy humidity, or generally unsafe outdoor conditions.
Running on the treadmill also comes with plenty of health benefits. “Even 15 to 20 minutes of walking or jogging on the treadmill can improve brain function through a variety of mechanisms, including the expression of genes coding for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF,” says Personal Trainer Lesley Bell, BS, NASM-CPT, NASM-CES, NCSF-CSC. “Through this response, as well as through the regulation of many other biochemical pathways, we can prevent neural atrophy, slow cognitive decline, and improve the quality of our lives.”
Here are a few simple ways to ease into a treadmill routine—once you’re ready, you’ll want to try out a guided treadmill class on the Aaptiv app.
Rather than avoiding the treadmill altogether, you’ll want to try some new approaches to make the most of your time and reach your fitness goals faster. “Running is always much more enjoyable when your body and mind are properly prepared,” says Bell.
“Sometimes, jumping in to a treadmill class that is too advanced or too high in intensity can make you never want to return,” says Personal Trainer Heather L. Tyler, NSCA-CPT. Keep your shorter routines on the treadmill and your longer runs outdoors. “Doing short intervals are a great way to do that,” says Tyler. “Increase your speed for a certain length of time and/or increase the incline. Both ways start prepping your cardio system to work harder and longer.” Doing interval training will also help prevent boredom when you’re on the machine, as you’ll constantly vary the speed and incline to keep your muscles and mind engaged.
Change up the speed
When you hop on the treadmill, don’t stick to the same pace. Not only is it incredibly boring, but it’s not great for your muscles either. Instead, mix up your routine. “For those who struggle with sustaining attention while running, there are benefits to alternating between hills and flat roads, or slower and faster speeds,” says Bell. Treadmills are an effective tool for logging interval workouts, as you can easily control the pace, and you can also mimic hilly courses without having to find an outdoor incline to train on.
Try a treadmill workout class
When you’re starting something new, it can be helpful to have a supportive group there cheering you on when things get tough, as well as an expert guiding you through a routine. “Everyone is motivated by different things, of course, but many classes have louder music and add a competitive component that may push you to your edge,” says Bell. “Going with friends or having the opportunity to meet new ones can also make classes more enjoyable,” she adds.
Aaptiv offers a wide variety of treadmill routines, and your Aaptiv coach—and their killer playlist—is there to help you keep going when you want to give up. A few gyms and fitness studios also offer treadmill-based group fitness classes.
Set up a good environment
Have a favorite TV show you need to catch up on? Take advantage of being indoors and walk or run while watching your favorite show or movie. “One thing I find helpful is matching the beat of my music to the pace of my run,” says Bell. Just make sure you’re not so distracted by your favorite form of entertainment that you lose the intensity of your workout. You can also take advantage of your indoor workout by pairing it with a short core routine, since you’ll have exercise mats nearby, instead of just concrete pavements.
You can learn to love a treadmill workout without having to give up your outdoor workouts entirely. Both indoor and outdoor training have benefits, so it’s about finding the right balance for you.
Is all this treadmill talk making you want to hop on? Check out our treadmill classes in the Aaptiv app today!