Why Fitness Pros Say the Treadmill Is the Best Way to Get Your Run In

Photo: Getty Images/Milkos
People think I'm a freak, but I can go on and on about my love of treadmills for hours. Days, even, probably. The cardio machine is my OG fitness love, and it's become a total source of empowerment for me and my workouts. But I get that, for a lot of people, the tread is torture. And to be honest, that's exactly why it was created.

According to Business Insider, at its advent in 1818, the treadmill was first released as a form of punishment for prisoners that was akin to a stairclimber that just. kept. going. It was outlawed in the 19th century, but in the middle of the 20th century made a resurgence for the purpose of helping people exercise. Now let's be clear: I definitely know plenty of people who hate the monotony of running in place, and other runners who swear that an outdoor jog is the most elite form of running...but I am not one of those people.

The main reason why I live for treadmills is because they give you total control over your speed. When I run outside, I have no earthly idea how fast I'm going and if my sprints even compare to the 8, 9, or sometimes 10 mph speeds I hit on the treadmill. Outside, it's a true guessing game in which I'm blindly adjusting my speed and how long my intervals are. When I'm on a treadmill, it's a safe space in which I can monitor time and speeds and, heck, even watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians if I so please (which I do). Can you tune into a Real Housewives episode while jogging outside? Nope.

When I'm on a treadmill, it's a safe space in which I can monitor time and speeds and, heck, even watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians if I so please (which I do).

Another thing? Treadmills allow you to reign over the inclines you hit, while outdoor runs can hit you with a killer hill at any given notice. I'll be in charge of that, thank you very much. Of course, if you prefer the outdoor incline, a treadmill can replicate that, too. "A one percent incline on the treadmill engages your walking and running muscles and is important, while a two percent incline simulates propelling your body forward off of the ground and feels a little more realistic when running head on into a little wind in outdoor activity," says Phil Timmons, program manager at Blink Fitness.

I can't describe to you the glee I feel when I head to a treadmill—which is nice and cozy indoors—whenever it's raining or blizzarding or even sub-zero outside because the elements do not hinder my workout. "In great contrast to the hard, unforgiving cement or pavement, the smooth, cushioned belt of a treadmill can help reduce the impact on your joints," explains John Gallucci Jr., MS, ATC, PT, DPT, CEO of Jag-One Physical Therapy. "This is beneficial and can increase the longevity of your running career, and is also helpful for those who are recovering from an injury."

Kate Lemere, an instructor at Barry's Bootcamp in Chicago echoes this. "The treadmill gets a bad rap for being tedious, but it's an incredible training tool for three reasons," she says. "First, it's a controlled environment that allows athletes to dictate variables that are otherwise hard to control when running outside. Second, treadmills have shock-absorbing belts that lessen the impact placed on knees and joints. If you're injury prone, you may find your workouts and recoveries more efficient than running outside. Finally, most treadmills have a dynamic functionality that introduces a level of resistance training to cardio exercise."

Suffice it to say that my joints are happy and my mind is at peace for having complete control over my runs. As you'd guess, I'm also thrilled about the unstoppable rise in popularity of treadmill workout classes. They're not going anywhere, and the more people that try them will surely understand how great and reliable they are for a solid exercise session. Because I know, whenever I step onto a tread (as I do in every single workout of mine) I feel a sense of peace wash over me because I'm about to control my badass run. While watching Bravo, of course.

To get you going on that tread, here's a HIIT running workout you can do in only 20 minutes. And these are the best, editor-approved women's running shoes to do it with. 

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