The Treadmill Controversy You are not going to like it!

Dear Treadmill Users - DON'T HATE ME! But you should not read or watch TV during your treadmill workouts. Find out the reason and don't be too mad.

Ok, don’t kill at me.  I am going to say something that you are not going to like.  Here it is:  “Treadmill walkers -you should not be watching TV or reading while doing your workout.”

 There- I said it.  Now, you can yell and scream at me and do whatever you want.  Let me give you the reason and we can agree to disagree (but just realize that I am right).

 As a walking and running coach, I always tell my clients that you should be working out at least 3 to 4 times a week.   Of those workouts, you should be doing one or two good cardiovascular workouts where your face looks like a tomato (red to bright red) and you smell a little too.   In other words, you should have brought your heart rate up during your workout to build muscle, burn calories and increase your endurance.

 So, what’s the big deal with watching TV or reading while you work out on the treadmill? Let me explain why I have a problem with it.  Using a scale system from 1 to 10, let’s say 1 feels like a stroll in the park on a beautiful crisp fall day and 10 feels like you want to lay down on the ground and vomit.  During your treadmill workout, you should get to level 7 or 8 for some part of that workout.   This is called interval training.  When you do your treadmill walk, you pick up your pace for some period of time, maybe a minute or two, maybe longer if you are more fit and then bring it down again to a more comfortable pace.  Your breathing should become difficult during the increased pace interval and you should not look attractive at all.   In fact, you should look strange and sweaty.

 What I often find with treadmill walkers who are reading a magazine or watching TV is that while they are reading about Kim Kardashian’s most recent divorce or getting mad at the stock market on CNBC, they are unable to concentrate on picking up their pace and pushing to level 7 or 8.   They stay at a steady pace, maybe level 3 to 5 and they never challenge themselves to walk faster.

 Now I know reading and watching TV distracts you.  I know how boring treadmills are.  I also know you really want to be eating warm chocolate chip cookies and not sweating at the gym (because that is how I feel everyday!).  But if you are distracted, you will not work hard enough.  It has to be a conscious effect for some period of time where you push yourself out of your comfort zone (level 2-4) and get to a level that is hard to maintain (level 7-8). And it has to be at a level of difficulty that you are unable to read sentences or watch Rachel Ray make a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  The only thing you can think about when you are at that higher intense level is “oh my goodness! Is this almost over?”

 I have a compromise so please don’t beat me up.  You can read or watch TV during your workout BUT you must do several intervals where you bring your effort up to that 7 or 8 level.  During that time, you close the magazine or you turn away from the TV and you concentrate on getting through the higher interval.

 I know it is hard and I know you are annoyed with me.  But if you include workouts with some increased effort interval training, you will become fitter and be able to work out longer.  You will have more stamina during the day and feel proud of yourself.  Most importantly, you will be able to eat warm chocolate chip cookies on occasion and not feel guilty about it.  See, that wasn’t so bad.  I knew you would agree with me.  


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