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How Treadmills Compare To Other Types Of Home Fitness Equipment
By: C.J. Gustafson

When it comes to exercise, people like to walk or run. These are natural activities for us. They can have practical applications, such as getting from one place to another. They require less gear than many other forms of exercise (although you can spend a bundle on shoes, clothes and other accessories if you really wanted). And walking or running are great forms of exercise. They burn calories, work many muscle groups and strengthen cardiovascular components in the body. Walking is one of the best or perhaps the only feasible form of exercise for people with diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension and chronic back pain. Walking doesnít require a lot of technical know-how or instruction. We already know how to do it, and a few pointers about heart rate and breathing will at least get us on the road. In general, walking and running are easy and convenient ways to improve health and fitness and a home treadmill adds to this overall appeal.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, over 40 million consumers purchase treadmills each year and the number continues to grow. Treadmills account for over 1/3 of all home exercise equipment sales. So why do so many people choose treadmills and how do they compare to stair machines, stationary bikes and other home fitness equipment?

Ease and Convenience

The number one reason people use a treadmill is convenience. It allows you to exercise even when the weather is bad or the fitness center is closed. You can exercise in the early morning or after dinner or whenever the mood strikes you. You can even use your treadmill in the buff if you donít feel like washing your workout clothes.

You can read, watch TV, talk with friends, or listen to music or audiotapes while you exercise on a treadmill. You can keep an eye on your kids, wait for files to download, take care of dinner or the laundry and even meditate, think through problems or make grocery lists.

For those who need to stay in the office until five Ė even when itís not busy, or who prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own homes, a treadmill is ideal. Also, in some areas and neighborhoods, walking or running exposes one to traffic, muggers or vicious dogs. These hazards are avoided by using a treadmill.

Another reason people like treadmills is because you can just hop on and walk without a great deal of preparation and even if you donít work terribly hard at it, you still accomplish something. But todayís treadmills make it easy to program in workout routines that simulate hills or vary speeds to enhance the effectiveness of your workout or challenge you to work harder and improve. The control panels are typically user friendly and many machines have built in heart rate monitors.

Clearly a treadmill provides several advantages over walking or running outside. And it is often easier and less expensive than other types of home exercise equipment, but how does it compare in terms of pure cardiovascular workout and calorie burning?

A Better Burn

According to a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, a person using a treadmill for 60 minutes burns an average of 865-705 calories. Check that against other common exercise equipment:

∑ stair machine 746-637 calories burned

∑ rowing machine 739-606 calories burned

∑ stationary cycle 604-5956 calories burned

∑ cross-country ski machine 678-595 calories burned

Treadmill vs Elliptical Machine

What about the new elliptical machines? An elliptical cross trainer with handles to work the upper body provides a workout that compares to that of a treadmill when it comes to muscles used and heart rate issues. The main difference between the two types of home exercise equipment is that and elliptical machine operates more smoothly and creates less of an impact on bones and joints. This might be good for those with recent injuries or chronic conditions, but it is the impact that helps maintain or improve bone density, which in turn strengthens bones and prevents the loss of calcium.

Most experts agree that a healthy person needs the bouncing and jarring associated with walking or running to keep bones, muscles and joints working properly. A treadmill is one of the few home fitness machines that provide this type of exercise. And most come with a cushioned platform to minimize impact or keep it at an acceptable level. As with any form of exercise, it is a good idea to check with your doctor first if you have health conditions that may make it difficult or unwise for you to participate in certain activities.

With a treadmill, the concept is basically simple. If you want to work harder, you increase the incline or the speed. Usually this is done with a push of the button. An elliptical machine can be adjusted to target certain muscle groups, but it requires some knowledge and usually must be done manually. And because elliptical machines are relatively new to the home fitness market, there are fewer models to choose from and they tend to cost a bit more than the average treadmill. Some people have commented that they feel the elliptical machines can be more difficult to use because the motions do not feel as natural as walking or running. It is a good idea to try out any piece of exercise equipment before buying to see how it feels and fits with your needs.

Many people who exercise do so because they know they should, not because they thoroughly enjoy it. Sure you feel good after you complete your workout, but sometimes getting motivated can be difficult. And if you are going to put in the time, you want to know that what youíre doing is actually helping you burn calories and become more fit. Treadmills rank at the top of the list when it comes to home fitness equipment, providing one of the most effective workouts in proportion to the amount of time spent. So make your movements count. Try a treadmill.

C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for, providing treadmill ratings and reviews on the best treadmill models.

Copyright 2004

Permission is granted to publish this article on your site only if all links are left intact.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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