Importance of exercise in cardiovascular fitness
A regular exercise program is highly essential for general as well as cardiovascular fitness. It is useful for any individual who is capable of exercise. For a person with heart disease the exercise program has to be planned in consultation with the treating doctor. Ideally if you are planning to start a strenuous exercise program after the age of 40 years, it will be better to exclude cardiac illness by medical evaluation and a treadmill stress electrocardiogram.
Even though blood pressure and heart rate increases during exercise (see cardiovascular response to exercise), a regular exercise program brings down the blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels if they are mildly elevated. Severe elevations require additional medical treatment. Regular exercise brings down the body weight and reduces the risk of cardiovascular illness.
Types of treadmills for home exercise
Basically there are two types of treadmills for home exercise. The simplest is a mechanical one which does not require any electrical connection. The treadmill belt moves with the effort of the runner so that a motor is not needed. The speed is variable depending on the effort put in by the runner. It does not have many controls and is much cheaper than a motorised treadmill. Naturally the effort needed to run a purely mechanical one is more for any given speed. One potential disadvantage is the higher strain to the lower limb joints.
The motorised treadmill is very convenient if you can afford one. Various sophisticated controls are available depending on the cost you are ready to pay. The speed can be varied continuously and so can the gradient or slope. Sensors for checking the pulse rate are available. The exercise time, speed, distance run and calories spent are all displayed in front of you. A word of caution about the calories displayed. The calories spent will depend on your weight, being higher for a heavier person. But the most machines do not check your weight and only the calories spent for an average person at that particular speed and incline are displayed, as a function of the time run.
Taking away the boredom of treadmill exercise
If you walk or run outdoors for your daily exercise, each day you can take a separate route and can watch the activities around and enjoy the fresh breeze. You lose out on all these in a home treadmill exercise. After the initial enthusiasm wanes off, treadmill exercise can turn out to be a real bore.
So how to get away with it? Some finish their morning newspaper reading during the treadmill time. But this is not easy unless you provide a good stand for reading the paper and have some mechanism of turning the pages. Reading small print would not be ideal thing to do while moving on a treadmill in view of the eye strain it is likely to produce. A much simpler way is to watch music or an interesting program on television. Some use just a walkman or ipod to listen to music.
How to plan your exercise program?
For cardiovascular fitness, at least 30 – 40 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week are required. Average calories spent per week should be not less than 1000 KCal. For a beginner, start low and gradually increase timing and speed over a few weeks till you reach the maintenance phase. This will help to tune up your body. Every day the program should consist of an initial warming up and a final cooling down phase of slow speed. Any exercise program has to be maintained life long to remain effective. Hence choose the maximum speed judiciously. Don’t try to overdo it – you won’t be able to maintain it. Don’t forget to use a good sports shoe or else your sole skin will be damaged soon and come out as blisters.