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Choosing a treadmill for McArdle’s

These are guidance notes on trying out, choosing and siting a treadmill for your regular exercise. It is important to get it right, so that nothing discourages you from keeping up your routine.

 

Type of treadmill

Perhaps the most important factor is to buy the best, most solidly built treadmill that you can reasonably afford. A vital factor is stability. If you don’t feel safe and comfortable on it then you won’t use it long term. It is almost certainly best to avoid the folding ones for that reason, and although they are space saving, it is a chore to keep folding and unfolding them. A fixed one does of course require a space to leave it out. Bear in mind that a lower quality treadmill is more likely to need repairs at some point, and its absence will interrupt your exercise regime. See also the section below on entertainment regarding placing of a laptop or tablet.

If you are inexperienced in managing your McArdle’s you may find a heart rate monitor particularly helpful. Some treadmills have a wireless link to a chest-strap sensor (a bit of a hassle to put on), others sense the heart rate through the handles (you lose the reading when you let go). Or you could use a separate HR monitor that doesn't link to the treadmill. It comes down to personal choice.

Workout programmes

You don’t need amazing software with dozens of workout routines – it is only the fitness fanatics that need those. You really just want to be able to adjust the speed and the incline very simply whilst walking, as you feel you need to. What we want is to start on the flat at a slow speed, and then increase the speed (and maybe the incline) after about 10 minutes, once in second wind. So buttons for one-touch increase and decrease in speed and incline are essential (see up/down arrows on left and right of the example panel). Increments of 0.1 mph are best for us especially if we have low aerobic fitness, we definitely need increments finer than 0.5 mph. It is worth having some simple workout routines (often called things like “hill” or “random”) to give you more variety and use those once you have improved your aerobic fitness. You want it to allow you to start on the level, and at about 10 minutes switch to one of those workout routines whilst walking, rather than having to stop and restart.

In summary: sturdy, stable, simple programmes, accessible up/down buttons for speed and incline.

Try out a few to compare

You might try going to a couple of gyms to try their treadmills. You can usually have an introductory session to try out the gym, and use it to try out their model of treadmill. Theirs will tend to be top-end models of course, and you may not see those models in the shops but it will give you something to compare the “home” models against. You will be better equipped to make a decision when you try them in a shop. You must try them out - don’t buy on the web, unless it is a model you have been happy with in a gym or shop.

Siting the treadmill

You need a permanent place to keep the treadmill. (Getting it and and putting it away will soon be a chore and your exercise will get neglected.) A spare bedroom would probably be good. Or, if there is room at the side of a living room, that would be even better. Exercise is so important to us, you must be prepared to give it some priority. If you really do not have room, then change to a static exercise bike rather than give up on the idea altogether. Don’t be tempted to put the treadmill in the garage as the cold in winter will make it unappealing, and that is the time that you need it most as the weather is less amenable to walking outdoors.

Configuring your treadmill

Take a little time to go through the manual and see what you need to configure. There will be things like choosing between miles per hour and kilometres per hour; also maybe your starting speed and incline (we want it level). We need to keep our weight under control as putting it on makes our muscles work harder. So it is important to set up your profile for your gender, age and weight. This will then enable you to obtain accurate output figures for calories expended in each session. (If you are using a treadmill in a gym, you may be able to set up a user profile which you can then log into on each visit. If not, to get an accurate report on calories expended you will need to enter gender, age and weight each time.)

Entertainment

One factor that people find a problem is boredom, so think about entertainment. Try to set a fixed time slot when there is a programme that you like on the radio, to keep you entertained for 45 minutes. You may be able to have your treadmill facing a TV for the same reason (some very top end models even have a TV built in). Some models offer a holder that allows you place a laptop or tablet/iPad in front of you, or you may be able to purchase an accessory that enables it. Then you can watch what you want and when – to fit in with your treadmill time. It is still a good idea to have a fixed time slot, as that gets you into a routine.


 

Last reviewed: 31 March 2013