Next time you hop on the treadmill, try these five ways to get more out of your workout:
- Let go of the bars. Hanging onto the bars is cheating because the bars, not your legs, support your weight. You won’t raise your heart rate or burn calories as much as the machine says. Stop fooling yourself—reduce the difficulty level to one you can handle without hanging on.
- Watch your step. Relax and use the normal stride you would when walking or running on the ground, advises the American College of Sports Medicine. Standing too close to the front can make you chop your steps.
- Get intense. When you’re pressed for time, consider this: Short, intense bursts of exercise, or interval training, can be just as good as longer workouts in helping you get fit. Try interval training one or two times a week: Walk faster than usual for one minute, then back off for one minute and repeat the cycle for 10 minutes. Most women can adapt this approach to their workout, but it’s definitely not for heart patients.
- Beat boredom. Experts say we need at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, and 60 minutes is better. To beat the boredom of one long session, try four short workouts. Indiana University researchers found that four 10-minute workouts decreased blood pressure as much as one 40-minute workout, and the effects lasted even longer.
- Get real. Walking on a treadmill can make it easy to overcalculate how much work you’re really doing and how many calories you’re really burning. Remember that on a treadmill, there’s no wind resistance and the machine pulls your foot back for you. To compensate, raise the incline or pick up your pace.