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5 Fun Winter Treadmill Workouts
When the weather outside is frightful, many runners and walkers break out the snowshoes or, more likely, get their cardio on indoors. Love it or loathe it, the dreadmill— we mean treadmill— can keep fitness levels up once the temps drop, the days get shorter, and our favorite running routes are covered in snow (or sneaky black ice).
While studies suggest exercising outdoors might make us happier, more energetic, and less anxious, there are some perks to sweating it out inside the gym . Besides the convenience of seeing time and pace (and calories melt away), treadmill running is actually easier than running outside. But who are we kidding? Anyone who has spent some quality time on the ‘mill knows running in place can be a total drag.
Beat the Boredom — Your Action Plan
This winter, we’re giving the treadmill another go to hopefully have as much fun on there as these guys. Stay in shape through the cold months with these totally not boring treadmill workouts that should make that time on the belt fly by.
1. Go high-low. According to most experts, interval training is the treadmill’s BFF. It gets the heart rate up and burns the max amount of calories with periods of high and low intensity. Check out Derek’s ass-kicking interval workout along with these Greatist-approved interval ideas. And for a longer training run, we like this distance run recommended by Runner’s World. Intervals can be tough, but there’s always a break just around the “bend” in the “road.” Remember to adjust them to your own pace; a sprint, run, or jog speed is not the same for everyone.
2. Head for the hills. What’s the best way to pretend you’re out on the trails instead of stuck indoors? Kick up the incline a few notches! But because there are no elements to combat inside (other than the super sweaty dude on the next machine), always set the treadmill to a 1% incline base to simulate the outdoors and make up for the lack of wind . For even more incline, the hills are alive with this challenging “Six/Sevens” workout. Just ignore strange looks from other gym-goers as the treadmill lifts and lowers. We are the first to admit, “fun” is a relative term for these killer hills.
3. Be a multitasker. Not sure whether to do cardio before or after strength training? We say, why not during! Add variety to your treadmill workout with a couple 2- or 5-lb. dumbbells to practice bicep curls, shoulder presses, and other upper body exercises while walking. Or hop on and hop off as you log the miles. Alternate 5 to 10 minutes of running with strength training exercises like squats, push-ups, crunches, planks, and lunges. Just be sure to slow down the speed of the belt during transitions unless this looks like fun!
4. Play your cards right. Pick a card, any card with this great treadmill game. Take four index cards and write the words “run,” “run fast,” “jog,” or “walk” on each of them. Shuffle ‘em up while you warm up for about a mile. Then, draw a card and do whatever it says for 3 to 4 minutes until you’ve gone through all four. Repeat until nice and sweaty. Get even more creative by adding new cards with specific speeds, inclines, or punishments and rewards like “drop and give me 20!” or “time for a water break!”
5. Use digital distractions. Rely on an awesome iPod playlist or fancy treadmill TV to fight boredom? Studies show music and television are excellent distraction devices, so why not use entertainment to our advantage ? Make an interval-style playlist with a mix of high-tempo and low-tempo songs and change speeds accordingly. Did you know television commercials are tailor-made for workouts? Over the course of a half-hour show, run hard while the program is on and recover during commercials (or vice versa). Bonus points if you can make it through an entire episode of Real Housewives without wanting to change the channel.
Still hating on the treadmill after these new ideas? Just remember, grinding it out on the ‘mill can help us appreciate the road even more once the weather breaks. And think about all the extra laundry we’ll save by not bundling up in layers for cold winter runs!
How do you feel about the “boring” ‘ol’ treadmill? Share your favorite workout in the comments below!
- Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systemic review. Thompson, Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., et al. Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom. Environmental Science & Technology, 2011 Mar 1; 45 (5): 1761-72.⤴
- A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. Jones, A.M. and Doust, J.H. Chelsea School Research Centre, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, United Kingdom. Journal of Sports Sciences, 1996 Aug; 14 (4): 321-7.⤴
- Effects of distraction on treadmill running time in severely obese children and adolescents. De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Crombez, G., Deforche, B., et al. Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 2002 Aug; 26 (8): 1023-9.⤴