There’s something about treadmills that inevitably inspires a little silliness. As my first piece of evidence, I present to you the classic OK Go video:
What makes treadmills funny? On a blog connected to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, there’s a whole post about “different” uses for treadmills, including – but not limited to – ab exercise machine, crab walking practice, storage and podium for impromptu town hall meetings.
It doesn’t stop there – not by far! A youtube search for “funny treadmills” yields over 20,000 videos of everything from toddlers, pets and spectacular falls, to other creative uses for treadmills. As part of our research, we give rats treadmill tests – although to the best of my knowledge that hasn’t resulted in any hit videos yet, “only” some good, sound science…
For good measure (this blog is meant to be informative, after all), here’s a pretty common treadmill and exercise-related question: are you better off doing your 4×4 intervals on a treadmill or outdoors?
Training outdoors vs. on a treadmill
There probably isn’t a one-size-fits-all type answer to this – and you could likely make a case for either, depending on personal preference. On the one hand many people find it more enjoyable to exercise outdoors. On the other, there are legitimate reasons to prefer the comfort of a roof over your head. You can escape the rainstorm (soon to be snowstorm!) howling outside, and you potentially gain a little more control over your workout.
We recommend doing 4×4 interval training on an incline, because it gets your heart rate up quickly, without putting as much stress on your joints. Exercising on a treadmill with a set slope can give you a very consistent experience, so you know that all your intervals are the same. If you live somewhere hilly, you can find this outdoors too, of course, but it won’t necessarily be equally uniform. Mark that as a pro for treadmills.
Nevertheless, an equally important reason to exercise outdoors might be motivation. If you enjoy hearing the birds sing and feeling the sun on your body in the gorgeous open air, exercising outdoors might be a better choice for you. Exercise adherence is a big concern, so if you find that heading out to do your intervals in the forest makes it easier for you to keep it up over time, listen to that voice – regular exercise really can make a big difference to your health. After all, the most important thing is getting any sort of physical activity. So if it makes you happier, don’t fret the details.
Written by Hanna Sofie Ellingsen at CERG.
Do you know of other funny uses for treadmills? Or perhaps you’re mortally offended, since treadmills are Serious Business, and not to be laughed at? Share your special relationship with treadmills in the comments.