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Why use a treadmill? Walking or running are great forms of exercise. These activities 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 doesn’t 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. A home treadmill adds to this overall appeal.

Ease and convenience of using a treadmill

The primary 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 in the comfort of your own home. 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, wait for dinner or the laundry to be ready, and even meditate, think problems through or make grocery lists. For people who need to stay in the office until quitting time or prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own homes, a treadmill is the perfect workout choice! Another reason people prefer treadmills is because you can just hop on and walk withouta great deal of preparation. And even if you don’t work terribly hard at it, you’ll still accomplish something.

Today’s modern treadmills make it very 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. Working out with a treadmill provides several advantages over running or walking outside and it is often easier and less expensive than other types of home exercise equipment. But how does using a treadmill compare in terms of pure cardiovascular workout and calorie burning?

According to a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, the following amounts of calories are burned on average by a person exercising for 60 minutes:

  • Treadmill:865-705 calories
  • Stair machine: 637- 746 calories
  • Rowing machine: 606-739 calories
  • Stationary bicycle: 595-604 calories
  • Cross-country ski machine: 595-678 calories

As you can see, treadmills offer one of the most effective workouts you can get for losing weight and keeping it off! With a treadmill, if you want to work harder, you simply increase the incline angle or the speed with the push of a button. This makes varying your treadmill workouts very easy.

Swiss Balls (Exercise Balls)

You may have used an exercise ball before or you simply may have just seen this type of exercise aid at the local gym and wondered how it works. If you are looking for simple strengthening exercises you can do in the comfort of your home, the Swiss Ball is an excellent option as an effective exercise accessory. Easy to use, it is also very affordable and versatile.

The Swiss ball has a few advantages:

  1. It provides an unstable platform on which to perform exercises (greater instability leads to greater recruitment of stabilizing muscles, thus you reap more benefits from each exercise done on the Swiss ball).
  2. It provides an excellent range of motion for abdominal strengthening exercises.
  3. It is also excellent for improving sitting balance.

Due to the unstable nature of the ball, it will take some getting used to before you will feel comfortable balancing on it. Don’t despair; you will get the hang of it. Because the ball is squishy and made of vinyl so it won’t slip around, you can actually get away with putting yourself quite off-balance without falling over.

Before you try anything on the Swiss ball, just get comfortable with how it feels. Sit on it, holding on to something if you are really timid. Roll your buttocks around on it, and feel how you have to balance when you shift your weight. Practice moving your hips from the front of the ball (so that the ball moves up to the small of your back) to the back (so you are sitting on it), and side to side. One thing which helps to maintain balance is to keep your feet relatively wide apart.

Once you’ve mastered basic balance, you will be ready to try a variety of stabilization exercises. See your physical therapist for proper instructions.