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Aerobic exercise and the Treadmill, another way to get healthy

Hands off the treadmill to lose weight

A treadmill can give you a regular aerobic workout that is personalized to your needs. You can easily regulate your speed, how long you exercise and how steep an incline you want to tread.

There are more advantages to these machines. Since you use them indoors, you avoid any safety and weather hazards outdoors. Their electronic screens tell you how many calories you are burning, how fast you are going and how much distance you are covering. Many treadmills even have preset programs to automatically vary speeds and incline levels.

Before you start any exercise program, like using a treadmill, you should check with your doctor. Another important fact to remember is: Don’t hold onto the handrails while you tread.

Gripping May Produce Pain

When you’re on a treadmill, you may think you need to hold on to keep from falling. Yet holding on may cause some painful problems.

Gripping handrails overstretches your back muscles and compresses your chest muscles. The result is a slumped posture. If you already stoop, holding on will worsen it. Holding on can also wrench the muscles and joints in your upper body when you grip the front bar and lean far forward, or hold on with only one hand. Your shoulder and hip joints may also over-rotate, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries.

Another reason to let go: Walking hands-off burns about 20 percent more calories, enabling better weight control and, therefore, lower risk of cancer and other diseases. Hands-free treading also avoids raising your blood pressure — which may occur if you grip tightly, especially at a fast speed (3.5 miles per hour or more).

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Tips for Treading Well

If you’re afraid you’ll lose your balance or get dizzy, slow your speed — to 2 mph, if necessary. Balancing is part of exercise and your body becomes more efficient only when challenged.

If the machine tells you to “hold on for heart rate” because it uses sensors when you grip, let go after checking your heart rate. If you’re holding on because “everybody else does it,” remember that popularity doesn’t make it right.

Holding on, when using the incline feature, causes your body to tilt back at the same angle, canceling out the slope effect. Leaning forward won’t correct this problem if you’re gripping, because you are, in effect, pulling yourself forward. Your arms act as anchors while your legs get a free ride, even if your speed and incline settings are set high.

Start out slowly and just let go. Pump your arms to keep them moving. Concentrate on correct posture. As your body adjusts to treading hands-free, you should increase the speed or incline over time to get a better workout.

(This article was provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. A registered dietician is available to respond to questions ab

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