picture of about treadmills

Treadmills were originally called “treadwheels” and were used as a method of reforming offenders in prison, an innovation introduced by Sir William Cubitt in 1817. Later treadmills were introduced in to the public in medical setting to diagnose heart and lung disease by Dr. Robert Bruce and Wayne Quinton at the University of Washington in 1952. Later research by Dr. Kenneth Cooper on the benefits of aerobic exercise, published in 1968, provided a medical argument to support the commercial development of the home treadmill and exercise bike.

Here are answers to many of the most common questions about treadmills:

Will running hurt my knees?
As with any form of exercise you should check with your physician to be sure you are healthy enough to exercise but recent research shows that running may actually strengthen joints.

Athletes who participate in sports involving running and jumping—soccer, running, basketball, and volleyball—have greater bone mineral density compared to non-active people and even compared to athletes in non-impact sports, such as swimming, cycling, cross-country skiing, and rowing.

Running has not been shown to increase the risk of joint injury or osteoarthritis for healthy people, as there is no greater incidence of joint degeneration in people who run compared to people who don’t run. Indeed, running may even have a protective effect against joint degeneration.


Why is running on a treadmill easier than running outside?
Running on treadmills is easier than running on an equivalently flat distance outdoors because the ground is smooth and there is no wind. Generally a person running outdoors faster than 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) (6 minute mile pace) will expend up to 10% more energy than an indoor runner. Treadmills can approximate the additional effort of running outdoors by setting the incline to 1%.

If two treadmills look the same on paper are they really the same?
No. All treadmills are not created equal as some manufactures use tricky labeling to disguise the truth about their products. One common trick to use a smaller, cheaper motor with high RPM’s to up the listed horsepower. Through special gearing they are able to increase the horsepower output on the belt but since the motor is spinning so much faster it will burn out more quickly. Find a salesperson with a passion for fitness to walk you through the differences in each brand.

Next week….More than anyone ever wanted to know about ellipticals!