Tag Archive for treadmill

Toil And Travel

During the past three weeks, I had the opportunity to travel to both England and Canada. (I live in the U.S. – the state of Illinois.) The trip to England was by air, of course, and the trip to Canada was a 10-hour drive each way! By the end of the three-week course, I was exhausted. I’m just now getting back to my normal routine, and I learned a lot about staying healthy and fit while traveling from personal experience. Now that I’m home, I’ve been reading and researching travel and fitness tips. I found you don’t have to arrive at your destination dehydrated, disoriented and too tired to enjoy yourself. There are creative ways to exercise, even while on the road (or on the plane!). Says Rebecca Johnson, co-author of Travel Fitness, “Travelers can easily incorporate their regular fitness programs or begin a new program when away from home. There are creative ways to be healthy and fit while on the road, with the added benefits of reduced stress and increased productivity.”

First of all, if you are traveling by plane, the following items would be helpful for your well-being and comfort:

  • Lumbar roll for your back (my lower back ached a lot during flight – I wish I had known this tip before I went!)
  • Eye shades
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye drops, lip balm & moisturizer (cabin air is very drying)
  • Large water bottle (very important to stay hydrated in flight, which means you need more than the standard 64 oz. of water per day. Add an extra 6-8 oz. of water for every hour you’re in the air. Limit your consumption of coffee and alcohol.)
  • Nutritious snacks, such as raisins and/or soda crackers
  • Order a special meal–low-salt, diabetic, vegetarian or kosher. It’ll be more nutritious than regular airline fare.

While you’re on the plane, get up every hour and walk the length of the plane to keep your blood circulating and decrease the pressure on your back. If walking around isn’t possible (flight attendants serving others, for example), at least go to the back of the plane, stand for awhile, and do simple stretching exercises.

When you arrive at your destination, get outside and take a walk, especially if it’s still daylight. Not only will the walk improve your mood, energy level and circulation, but you’ll recover from jet lag more quickly as well.

If you’re lucky, your hotel will have a pool and/or fitness room. Take advantage of both! Be sure to pack a bathing suit, walking/running shoes, and exercise clothes. Get up ½ hour early and take a swim or walk on the treadmill. If you have your evening free, you can do your workout and then treat yourself to the whirlpool or sauna.

When I was in England, I stayed with friends, not at a hotel. However, I quickly learned that the Britons rely on their feet a lot more than their cars! We only took the car when we absolutely had to. We walked so much during the week I was there, I lost three pounds! My one friend runs or bikes to and from work every day, even in the rain–five miles each way. The family swims together (at an indoor pool) once a week; sometimes bikes to church; and the children are in a running club. Errands are done on foot–they use a metal pull-cart to carry their wares home. It was a rare sight to see an overweight Brit. I think Americans could learn a lot from them in this regard!

Unfortunately, my trip to Canada didn’t go as well as my trip to England. It was an emergency road trip (two days after I arrived home from England!) due to a death in the family. By the time we drove 10 hours and arrived at our hotel in the evening, I was crabby and tired and didn’t feel like taking a walk. Now that I look back on it, I should’ve dragged myself outside anyway–it would’ve made me feel better afterwards.

According to Rebecca Johnson and Bill Tulin (the other author of Travel Fitness), to preserve your hard-earned fitness level, exercise at least every third day while on the road. Perform at least a third of your aerobic routine at your typical level of intensity and complete your strength-training program at least once a week, using the same amount of resistance.

Keeping at least part of your routine intact will keep your energy level up.

Truthful Talk On Treadmills

Are you tired of waiting in long lines for use of the treadmill at the gym? Or maybe it’s too much of a hassle to drive back and forth to the health club just to use the treadmill, so you decide to buy a treadmill of your own. You head to your local sports-equipment store or the big discount warehouse, try out the different machines, and buy the one that feels best to you. That simple?

How do you know whether it’ll hold up for several years? Will its electrical system and display go haywire? Will the motor burn out? Or will it end up as an extra clothes rack in the corner of your bedroom because it gave up instead of you?

In the September 1999 issue of “Cooking Light” magazine, it states that The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a nonprofit organization that describes itself as America’s “workout watchdog,” recently teamed up with Harris Black International, a leading market-research firm, to conduct a comprehensive home-treadmill survey designed to help you eliminate the lemons in the lineup.

In an Internet survey, more than 7,000 current treadmill owners rated their machines in overall satisfaction and in four specific categories: durability, safety, features and ease of use, and effectiveness of workout. Thirty-four brands were involved, but only seven brands made the A-list. Treadmills cited for overall satisfaction won at least one of the smaller categories–the exceptions are Trimline’s 1400.1 and 2200.1 models, which won solely for durability.

The winners for overall satisfaction, by price:

  • Less than $1200: ProForm swept the category with the following five models: the J8li, the 785EX, the 725EX, the CrossTrainer, and the CrossWalk LS.
  • $1200 to $2000: The PaceMaster Pro-Plus HR shared top honors with three Keys models: the Pro 1000, the Pro 2000, and the MS1200.
  • More than $2000: A triple tie at this price point: the Landice 8700 SST, the Precor M9.25I, and the True Fitness True 450.

Some details to consider when picking out a treadmill:

  • The thickness of the running belt. Two-ply belts are stronger and less likely to curl at the sides than are one-ply belts.
  • The length of the running surface. Longer decks provide more room for a comfortable stride.
  • The percentage of incline. It can range from a low of 2-4%, to a high of 15%. Commercial-grade treadmills often go as high as 25%.
  • Electronic feedback displays of speed, time, and distance are usually standard on most treadmills. Some also display the number of calories burned or heart rate. Most treadmills offer customizable programming capabilities.

Retail purchases of treadmills are up since the increased popularity of walking as an exercise. While running has been a favored American activity since the 1970’s, walking has come into the limelight in the 1990’s; in part because it’s a low-impact exercise that less-fit and older people can do easily.

Whether you walk or run on a treadmill, it’s an activity that has numerous health and physical benefits. “It has great cardiovascular value for the heart, lungs, and circulatory system,” notes Gregory Florez, president of First Fitness, Inc., a Chicago personal-training and consulting firm. “It’s a very efficient way to lose body fat, and since it’s a weight-bearing activity, it has musculoskeletal benefits as well.” If you run on a treadmill at 5.5 to 6.5 m.p.h. with no incline, you will work the quads, hamstrings, and calves. If you don’t watch TV or read, try to keep your arms bent 90 degrees and pumping hard. Or combine your treadmill workouts with a climbing machine for an excellent fat burner.

If you walk on a treadmill at a speed of 3.4 to 4.5 m.p.h. with a 5% incline, you will work the same muscles as above, plus the glutes. Beginners, as well as advanced exercisers, should walk heel-to-toe on the treadmill and keep high intensity throughout the workout.

Virtual technology may be coming to home treadmills. A company in Minneapolis, Minnesota is developing a virtual reality product for stationary bikes, steppers, ski machines, and treadmills. Called, “The Virtue Series,” these CD-ROM virtual “worlds” will enable treadmill users to pretend they’re walking on a desert at sunset or jogging on an alien planet.

Given the convenience of home-based fitness equipment, and the great physical benefits of a treadmill workout, the addition of a technology that can turn a walk into an exotic excursion might just convince you to run out (no pun intended) and buy a treadmill for your home.