No matter your stance on treadmills, they’re a mainstay in the gym and common piece of equipment in home gyms. “Using a treadmill has the advantage of low-impact running and cushioned running surfaces, reducing the compressive forces that running produces on your joints,” says Rudy Gehrman, DC, executive director and founder of Brooklyn-based Physio Logic NYC. “This leads to less joint injuries.”
It’s true everyone is familiar with the benefits of treadmills, but if you’re inclined to avoid them, maybe a few fun facts will help you reconsider or at least provide a few pieces of trivia to share:
TREADMILLS WERE INITIALLY INTRODUCED FOR MANUAL LABOR
We know: No surprise, right? The first (human-powered) treadmills were most likely used by the Romans in the first century like a modern-day crane. Back then, men would walk continuously within a large hamster-like wheel to lift heavy objects for construction.
THE FIRST MOTORIZED TREADMILL WAS CREATED IN 1952
In the 1950s through ‘60s, American cardiologist Dr. Robert Bruce and preventive medicine physician Dr. Kenneth Cooper performed research to show treadmills could be used to measure cardiac function of patients and diagnose conditions in a way they previously were unable to do. This was also boosted by Cooper’s 1968 book, “Aerobics,” which lifted up running as a popular health trend. These research studies helped create the explosion of treadmills being used as gym and at-home cardio equipment today.
SOME TREADMILLS HAVE SEATS
In treatment centers, treadmills can be used as a form of therapy called manual locomotion therapy. An example would be a therapist helping a stroke patient simulate walking movements in order to learn to walk again. The built-in seats are for the therapists to sit to the left or to the right of the patient as the patient simulates walking.
MOTORLESS TREADMILLS DO EXIST
You’ve probably seen them at the gym; these motorless versions of the treadmill are curved and 100% human-powered by using a system of bearings and aluminum tracks. Motorless treadmills are thought to promote good sprinting and running form as the curve is supposed to help support a more natural stride.
TREADMILLS GOT A BIT MORE ENTERTAINING
Technogym was the first equipment manufacturer to introduce an embedded television in its treadmills in 2002. This also created the ability to connect digitally to track all of a user’s workout data. In 2007, the Life Fitness treadmill’s Elevation Line hit the market, and became the first treadmill with iPod compatibility.
Also in 2007, NordicTrack iFit partnered with Google Maps to bring street view to its treadmills, which automatically adjusted speed, incline and decline based on the natural terrain of the route. In 2009, NordicTrack invented the Incline Trainer, which is “the only treadmill that can reach an incline of up to 40% and a decline of 6%,” says Colleen Logan, VP of Marketing at NordicTrack and iFit
YOU CAN WALK WHILE WORKING
With the advent of treadmill desks in 1999, you could work and workout at the same time. A computer desk that has a treadmill underneath comes in an all-in-one system, or with mix-and-match components. You are able to walk while working on a computer or even attend a video conference — and give new meaning to a walking meeting.
YOUR DOG CAN RUN ON ITS OWN TREADMILL
Dog treadmills are available for both home and clinical use. With human supervision, a dog treadmill usually has a long running surface, open front and back entries and side rails to prevent the pet from falling off. Many veterinary and animal rehabilitation clinics offer underwater treadmill therapy as part of their pet rehab programs.