By Dr. Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Needless to say that daily exercise of any form will benefit you in all aspects of life, including longevity. Walkers in the park or those who work-out on treadmills at home, have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases. They live longer and even get mental health and spiritual benefits.
Senior citizens can be motivated to exercise in indoor based walking and strength exercise programmes. There are clubs in many countries where such facilities are available to seniors, for instance water ballet, dancing, and group exercising.
Research shows adults who are physically active in their 50s and early 60s are about 35% less likely to die in the next eight years than those who are not active and sedentary.
A 2005 study confirms aerobic fitness and health benefits for both high intensity walking and lower intensity, and also treadmill walkers and joggers.
It is important to be on the right diet with regular exercise, to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses in as quickly as six weeks. Skipping exercise for two days in a row reduces your body’s effective use for insulin, and may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Make it a daily routine, even when you are on holiday.
Advantages of a home treadmill
People are too busy today, with hectic lifestyles, increased work load and other commitments.
Still you need to think of health as a priority and one will not be able to handle the stressful situations unless one is prepared to sacrifice some time for health. Going to the gym for a work-out is out of the question in terms of time for most active people. So, purchasing a treadmill for home use would be the solution.
A study published in the Journal of the American Association showed that treadmills easily outpaced an exercise bicycle, a rowing machine, and a cross country skiing machine. The study was conducted with a group of volunteers at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration Hospital. The volunteers were made to do a series of workouts on different machines, each time exercising at what felt like the same intensity.
Dr. Martin Hoffman of the Medical College of Wisconsin found that “the treadmill allowed the individuals to burn as much as 200 calories per hour more than the bicycle ergo meter, which came out having the lowest energy expenditure.”
The initial expenditure on a treadmill is less than most other exercise equipment. It is not expensive as other home exercise equipment which occupies so much of space, and yet produces nearly the same positive results. Today, there are cheaper, small treadmill machines that can be folded and placed against the wall.
If you walk at your normal pace, that would be what you will be doing on a treadmill and no further training is required.
The best thing about working out with a treadmill is that you are in the comfort of your own home and you can read a book, even watch television while getting a trusted workout. You are also with your family at home.
In America today, more than 45 million people exercise on treadmills, either at home or in a gym. They are even more popular than stationary bikes, stair machines, and rowing machines.
The advantages of having a treadmill at home would be that you could exercise anytime when you have some spare time. If you cannot sleep in the night a run on the treadmill will make you tired and sleep without any tablets. Weather does not influence you and postpone work-outs during bad weather conditions, such as hot and humid weather or cold, rainy weather in Sri Lanka.
The purpose of any form of exercise is to burn down calories and keep you physically fit, healthy and feel young. You burn more calories on a treadmill than on other machines, because the total muscle mass is put into work. There have been studies where the participants lost more calories using a treadmill than that using a stationary bicycle machine, a skiing machine, or even the dreadful stair-case climbing machines. On a treadmill you could easily burn 500 calories per hour according to your fitness, by adjusting the speeds and inclination.
For those people who suffer from illnesses like osteoporosis, arthritis, back pains and other minor disabilities, the treadmill would be the best option, because you can adjust the incline, speed and intensity throughout, according to your requirements whilst walking on it. So the treadmill, therefore, provides them with an exciting alternative to just plain walking outside.
Furthermore, the treadmill can be used by any age group, young and old, and even when pregnant. The treadmill can help prevent injuries and abductions common in some countries, when you run on uneven pot hole pavements and road sides.
Treadmill walking like other types of walking improves heart function and circulation of oxygen-rich blood. Hence the name “cardiac” is given because of the cardiovascular benefits. Furthermore, it improves muscle tone, just not in your legs, but all over the body.
1. As your foot comes forward and your heel strikes the ground, raise your toes and roll forward onto the outside of your foot (but keep the entire shoe sole on the ground). As your foot passes under your body, straighten your knees and press the ground with the ball of your foot, maintaining pressure until your toes leave the ground. Do this for the entire duration of your run.
2. Allow the hips to rotate naturally with the forward and backward movement of your legs. Meanwhile your shoulders should stay relaxed and facing forward.
3. Let your arms swing at your sides in the same forward-backward direction as your hips and legs. As you increase your speed, bend your arms at a right angle and swing them faster in rhythm with your legs.
(The above technique is from Elaine Ward of NARWF.)
Some older people who have balance problems (vertigo) may need to support their arms on the side bars.
Over-exercising on a treadmill
Do not jog or run on a treadmill too strenuously. It damages your machine and also puts too much pressure on certain joints like the knees and ankles.
Jumping or hopping on the treadmill
In addition to your walking or running on the treadmill you may add a few jumps or hops at intervals to change your work-out. Using one minute intervals of jumping during a regular treadmill work-out can reap benefits. They will increase your heart rate and challenge new muscles.
You should first start slowly, keeping your hands off the bars. It is better to start out very slow without grasping the machine than to go faster and cling on. Hop at a very slow speed for 15 seconds to get the feel of it. These exercises are not advised for the elderly. The basic motor driven treadmill to purchase in Sri Lanka would be about Rs. 75,000. Fully worth it health-wise if you can afford it.