Holding On To the Treadmill Can Reduce Your Calorie Burn
Your favorite machine at the gym is the treadmill. You decide to increase the incline to burn more calories. But, what if that technique actually takes away from your efforts to burn calories?
According to Dr. Mantell of the American Council on Exercise, holding on to the safety rails (or the display unit) of the treadmill may reduce your calorie burn by 25 percent. This is due to a few changes it produces. First, by holding on, your legs may be doing less work. This is especially true if you are holding on to the side rails, and using your shoulders to hold yourself up. Secondly, without the swing of your arms, you are also reducing efforts by your muscles, and thus less calories are burned. You may have increased the incline, but with holding on, your body is still at a perpendicular angle, so you are not producing the extra work you thought you were.
So, how can you burn more calories? If you have healthy knees and ankles, walking on an incline is a great challenge. Focus on your posture, staying more upright and with the arms swinging naturally by your side. Or, Dr. Mantell suggests slowing down the speed of the treadmill and doing lunges. I have also observed people doing a side gallop motion or walk backwards on the treadmill at a zero incline, yet that can be tricky.
Milly Nunez (my personal trainer) uses the treadmill with her clients for High Intensity Interval Training. Using H.I.I.T. burns a lot of calories by quickly getting the heart rate up, then switching to a new activity after a very brief rest. The activities are personalized; a personal trainer can set up such a program for you that uses different muscle groups to build your endurance while burning calories. This is especially important for those trying to manage their weight. It is also effective as a part of cross-training for runners and other athletes that want to build speed, endurance and overall aerobic capacity.
I have reviewed information on challenges of using the treadmill with Dr. Courtney Berberich, a sports medicine Physical Therapist who agrees. She also pointed out some common injuries due to improper posture and use of the treadmill, so stayed tuned for this interesting article coming soon!