Fact or Fiction? Common Myths About Treadmills Debunked

If you are thinking about getting a treadmill, but don’t know how to sort out the fact from the fiction when it comes to the most common myths about them, we have all the answers for you here.


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The treadmill is one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment people buy or rent for home-use. This is because anyone who wants to work out whenever they feel like it (without a tiresome trip to a members-only gym) prefers a treadmill: it’s easy to use, requires zero maintenance, and fits into spare corner spaces in many rooms around the house.

Treadmills have become a permanent fixture in gyms and homes around the world since being invented during the late 60s. There have been a lot of rumours about a treadmills’ effectiveness, and how to use them for the maximum benefit.

Let’s go through them point by point and sort out the what’s true and false.

Myth Number 1: You Run the Same Speed on a Treadmill as You Do Outside

Myth Busted: This is false. Your speed on a treadmill will always be faster than what it is outside, because the factors are different. You can hit a jogging speed of around 7km/h on a treadmill, but you won’t match that if you are running outside, especially on hiking trails and other uneven surfaces. Running outside is hazardous if complete attention isn’t being paid to what’s happening to the terrain directly in front of you and approaching traffic. This division of attention means slower running speed.

Running outside often results in staring at the ground looking for dog mess and other obstacles. Compare that to treadmill running, where the only thing you need pay attention to is the monitor or the latest podcast. It’s also full of other variables:

· Weather

· Headwinds

· Inclines

· Uneven surfaces

· Traffic

· Pedestrians

· Cyclists

· Dog walkers

The belt that spins on the treadmill when you begin running on it, actually propels a runner to go a faster pace as well, so if you are training for a competition and want to know your true pace, you need to calculate the differences.

Myth Number 2: The Treadmill Calorie Counters Are Accurate

Myth Busted: False. Every person’s metabolism and physicality are different. Also, any medications you are on could affect how fast or slowly you burn energy. A treadmill is only there to provide you with an approximate calculation of how fast your body is burning calories when your correct weight and age have been entered into it. It’s a general estimate and guideline only.

A significant percentage of the population who use public gyms don’t enter the correct data into the treadmill calculator. This is because they are under observation from everyone around them and feel shy about clocking in the correct weight and age! The high-quality equipment installed in home gyms allows treadmill users to keep their weight and age stats private. This leads to more accurate calorie counter readings.

Myth Number 3: Treadmill Running is Harder on Joints and Ligaments


Image used courtesy of Treadmill Ratings

Myth Busted: False. There are a lot of rumours about treadmills - and running in general -being hard on joints and ligaments. The truth is that any exercise can be hard on the body if the proper warming up techniques weren’t done beforehand. Research has shown that treadmills are actually gentler for ligaments and joints because of the padded surface that lowers the impact.

Myth Number 4: Perform Cardio Before Strength Training

Myth Busted: True and False Depending on the Circumstances. For many years personal trainers have taken new clients straight to the treadmill as the best place to begin their cardio after a stretch. If your goal is cardiovascular endurance or weight loss, this would be the best thing to do. However, if your fitness goal is to build up muscle size or strength, then you should do weight training first before treadmill running dips your energy levels.

If you feel you can do better weight training before or after your cardio on a treadmill, it’s up to you to listen to your energy levels and make that call for yourself. As most people who buy or rent treadmills for use at home have weight-loss and strength building as their fitness goal, they feel more comfortable using their treadmill first thing in the mornings – especially in winter. This cardio session timeslot has been scientifically proven to raise the metabolism and keep it at optimum levels for the rest of the day.

Your body is rearing to go when you wake up. You haven’t yet entered into the period of stress associated with traveling to a gym, commuting, or preparing for work. This means that if you have a treadmill at home, your mental and physical well-being benefits the most from exercising in peace first thing in the morning.

Myth Number 5: Should I Hold the Treadmill Handles?

Myth Busted: False. Never hold the handles once you have your rhythm going. It’s essentially dangerous to stay holding the handles of the treadmill once you have picked up your pace. When you are running at speed, not having your elbows tucked in and your arms moving with the pace of the rest of your body can make fundamental changes to your stability and stance. Additionally, if you have set the treadmill at an incline and hold on to the handles while running, it will completely negate the fact that you are running on an incline at all.

Myth Number 6: Is Running at a 1% Incline the Same as Running Outside?

Myth Busted: True and False. It’s easier to run on an incline when you’re on a treadmill and, even though this will increase your energy output, it’s only effective when you are maintaining a running speed of around 11kp/h, which is really pounding it. If you’re on your treadmill for a casual jog or easy paced speed, the 1% incline will have no immediate or long-term benefit.

Myth Number 7: Running on a Treadmill is Better for Your Knees

Myth Busted: True and False. Treadmills have softer, more flexible padded surfaces that feel very forgiving to anyone who has been used to pounding the hard tarmac. If you keep an eye on maintaining the correct running stance and ensure you support any old injuries, running on a treadmill is definitely better for your knees. Just ask anyone who has tripped over a barking dog while jogging outside!

It takes determination to get fit. If you find the gym to be one of the more intimidating spaces to work out, there are many other options open to you. If you plan on making 2019 – 2020 the years you get into shape with some treadmill running, don’t let the fiction out there stop you from learning the facts.

*Results may vary from person to person