DID YOU KNOW ?
Without doubt, the most popular form of cardio-exercise in the fitness environment is running, jogging or brisk walking on a treadmill. Most people consider running or jogging on a treadmill the most effective forms of aerobic exercise for fat-loss and cardio-respiratory conditioning in the gym. These treadmill enthusiasts are deeply convinced that exercising on other items of cardio-equipment, such as elliptical crosstrainers, stationary bikes or rowers, won’t generate as many and extensive benefits as working out on a treadmill.
This does not merely apply to physical benefits, but also to psychological benefits; many treadmill enthusiasts believe that no other type of aerobic exercise can stimulate a higher sense of well-being and generate a more pronounced feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction than running or jogging on a treadmill. The pleasurable sensation and even euphoria experienced during prolonged treadmill exercise of adequate intensity occurs due of the release of endorphins and various “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins are natural morphinlike happiness-chemicals produced by the body during exercise to boost tolerance to pain and exertion; together with the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine – biochemicals, which are likewise released in higher amounts during rhythmic-type treadmill exercise of longer duration -, they appear to be the underlying reason for the so-called “runner’s high”. Many treadmill fans just don’t want to do without this pleasurable experience and therefore make the treadmill the undisputable sole item of choice for their aerobic conditioning.
And without doubt, treadmill work-outs have much to offer.
The physical health benefits, which treadmill exercisers gain, include increased efficiency of the heart and lungs, reduced blood pressure and resting heart rate, improved circulation in the extremities, body-fat loss, lower cholesterol levels, etc.. Unfortunately, the continuous impact from running or jogging during regular prolonged treadmill use can be hard on the joints and can cause injuries of overuse to the lower extremities, which can become quite severe over time. Potential for repetitive strain injury, such as ‘shin splints’, stress fractures, runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, are quite common and can cause long-lasting chronic pain.
The psychological benefits of regular treadmill exercise include better mood, less depression, better self esteem and an improved sense of well-being, not to mention the already discussed feelings of accomplishment and euphoria generated by repetitive rhythmic treadmill exercise performed for 30 minutes or longer due to the release of endorphins and other feel-good biochemicals.
However, it is important to note that the mentioned release of endorphins and neurotransmitters is not all exclusive to running, jogging or brisk walking, but is a general response to physical stress from prolonged rhythmic activity of moderate intensity; it will also be experienced when swimming, rowing, cycling, or exercising on an elliptical crosstrainer at similar intensity and duration. When giving these other aerobic activities activities a try, most treadmill enthusiasts argue that they don’t experience the same feelings of euphoria or satisfaction as compared to working out on a treadmill. However, they forget to consider, how long it took them to condition their bodies up to the extent that they can run or jog at the level of intensity and for a duration of thirty minutes or longer required to experience the elating “runners’ high”. Allowing appropriate time of conditioning for other aerobic activities and eventually becoming able to perform them at equivalent intensity and duration as the treadmill work-outs, will ultimately elicit a comparable increased secretion of endorphins and happiness-boosting neurotransmitters, causing similar feelings of euphoria and bliss, while promoting equal or even superior physical conditioning and health benefits.
Obviously, there is no need to pound away on a treadmill day in and out in order to gather cardio-respiratory and fat-loss benefits or to experience the rewarding “runner’s high”. In order to avoid joint-stress and overuse injuries, it may instead be highly recommendable to “cross-train”, which, in this context, refers to including other types of cardio-exercise in your aerobic routine. Occasionally switching your treadmill exercise for working out on an elliptical crosstrainer will reduce detrimental impact on the joints of your lower limbs, giving them a much appreciated break, and will additionally involve the muscles of your arms. Training on a stationary bike is yet another excellent way to get your heart-rate, circulation, and metabolism up without putting excessive
stress on the joints of your lower limbs. Another outstanding choice of cardio-exercise is rowing on a Concept II or similar rowing machine, as rowing is not only devoid of any impact, but effectively involves upper body-, lower body- and core-muscles, with the extremities being used through their full range of motion, something which does not occur with any other cardio-type activities.