In the fitness industry we joke about how many household treadmills are used more as clotheshorses than they are used for exercise. While they have the reputation of being boring they are a great tool for getting into shape and/or training for a fitness event of any length. They are incredibly convenient (if they are not covered in laundry) and easy to use.
Treadmills were initially invented to be used in prisons. Originally called the “tread-wheel” it was designed by Sir William Cubbitt to get idle prisoners moving. It was more like a stair master. Prisoners would take steps to turn a wheel that would either pump water or crush grain. That’s where the “mill” part of the name came from. The prison treadmill disappeared in the late 19th century when it was deemed too cruel a punishment. It resurfaced again in the 1960’s when Dr. Kenneth Cooper demonstrated the benefits of aerobic exercise. So there is an honest connection between treadmills and torture.
I hear all the time that exercise is boring. I haven’t spent much time on a treadmill so I can only imagine how uninspiring training on one would be. The other side of the coin is thinking about the consequences of not spending time exercising, working out or moving (pick the term that suits you) on a regular basis. To me, the fear of feeling lousy or getting sick trumps the tediousness of exercise of any kind. The magic formula is finding something that works for you. If you have a treadmill the beauty is it’s there waiting for you. All you have to do is move the clothes aside and press start (safety first – attach that safety key). It doesn’t matter if it’s raining outside or icy or too hot or too cold. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 minutes or an hour and 5 minutes. All that matters is that you’ve made the commitment and honoured that commitment.
Once you get yourself on the thing, find different, and safe ways to use it. Start slow then speed it up a bit. Speed it up a little more if that works for you. Add some incline. Make it flat again. Keep repeating that pattern while you imagine that you’re walking or running along your favourite country road. Try sidestepping or galloping or even dancing. There are great videos online to help get the creative juices flowing.
If your mind needs a distraction there are podcasts on any topic that you could possibly think of. Audiobooks are another great way to be entertained, or my favourite – Netflix.
If accountability is your challenge set up an appointment with a friend who has a treadmill, or any other type of exercise equipment, and hold each other to it. Video calling is so easy these days. If that type of technology isn’t your thing, there’s always the telephone.
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