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Treadmill Workouts: How to Get Started

Many Americans are hopping on treadmills this winter to fulfill their exercise needs. Before you start running, there are some things to consider:

Ease Into It

Whether it’s on a treadmill or outside, running is a challenging, high-impact exercise. Ease into it by starting with a 20- to 30-minute workout that alternates between running and walking.

Traci Thompson, MS, director of PEAK Health & Fitness at University of Utah Health, recommends:

  • Start by walking: Find what speed is most comfortable for you, then slowly build the momentum.
  • Add intensity: Alternate between walking and running by adding intervals of running. Example: Warm up with five minutes of walking. Run for 30 seconds to two minutes and then walk for two to five minutes. Repeat.

The best part about running is the flexibility of the workout. “You can run anywhere, for any amount of time, and you don’t need special equipment,” Thompson says. “You can walk or run in small doses throughout the day and you can always make it more challenging.”

Ramp Up Your Workout

Introducing intensity to a workout can make a big difference in your health and fitness. You can do this by:

  • Increasing running intervals or decreasing walking intervals. For example, add 30 to 60 seconds to each jogging interval, or decrease walking intervals by 30 to 60 seconds, or do both.
  • Use the incline feature. Walking or jogging on an incline forces your body to work harder against gravity. This means you’ll burn more calories even if you don’t increase your speed. Start out slow by adding just a one to two percent increase for short intervals. Then, slightly increase either the time spent exercising at an incline or the pitch of the incline each week.

Check In With Your Doctor

Consult with a professional before beginning any cardiovascular exercise program. While moderate physical activity, like walking or brisk walking, is generally safe, it’s important to speak with your doctor if you have the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure