Recently I was challenged to consider risk vs benefit while teaching a group fitness class. We all seek “low risk” enjoyment and activities and some may think there is “no risk” in what they are doing. Every activity involves a risk vs benefit ratio which we may not consider when we plunge into some new activity.
When I decide that I want to improve my strength so I can lift my grand children or the grocery bag without help, I need a program that produces results. I also want to lessen the risk of damaging my lower back as I work on the strength issue. While I may choose riding my bike for both cardio and balance improvements, you may want to carry out the same by using a treadmill. We both need to consider the risk vs benefit. I think it is interesting that the treadmill is both the most dangerous machine in the gym and the most
beneficial in improving walking gate and balance for people over sixty. Read the dos and don’ts of treadmill walking.
Considering the risk vs benefit of treadmill walking, it is clear to me that the benefits far outweigh the risk as long as we follow tried and proven guidelines like these By Liz Neporent from Fitness Walking For Dummies:
Use those safety features. If your treadmill has an automatic stop, or some other safety feature, take advantage of it.
When you’re not on the treadmill, make sure that the [treadmill] belt is stopped. Don’t leaving it running unattended — even for bathroom or phone breaks.
Straddle the belt when you start out. Always place one foot on either side of the belt as you turn on the machine. Then step on the belt only after you determine that it’s moving at the slow set-up speed. Most treadmills have safety features that prevent them from starting out at breakneck speeds, but don’t take any chances.
Use the handrails sparingly. Holding on for balance is okay when you’re finding out how to use the machine, but let go as soon as you feel comfortable. You move more naturally if you swing your arms freely. If you must hold on to the front rails to charge up a hill or maintain a speed, you have the treadmill set at too high an intensity. Over-reliance on the handrails can overstrain your elbows and shoulders and reduces the amount of calories you burn during a workout. [increased risk + little benefit]
Keep your eyes forward. Your feet tend to follow your eyes, so if you focus on what’s in front of you, you usually walk straight ahead instead of veering off to the side. Also, try to stay in the center of the belt rather than all the way toward the back or front. If you stay too close to the front, your foot can catch on the motor cover and trip you up; if you walk too close to the back, you may slide right off.
Expect to feel disoriented. The first few times you use a treadmill, you may feel dizzy when you get off. Your body is just wondering why the ground suddenly stopped moving. Most people experience this vertigo only once or twice, but be prepared to hold on to something for a few moments when you hop off so that you don’t fall over.
Get proper instruction before using the treadmill to lower the risk and increase the benefits.
See Ya at the gym.