Okay, if you have a serious medical issue or need supervision from a physical therapist or fitness trainer, use whatever exercise equipment that is recommended for your condition. Indeed, you certainly should see a doctor before starting any exercise program. I am no health care professional. This is my blog and my opinion, not your prescription.
With that said, I don’t do treadmills nor their related gym equipment (ellipticals, stairmasters, ect, …). Hiking is a much better means of fitness than any machine. Gyms are indoor boxes. The air in them is conditioned. Except for the televisions and people working out, the scenery in the boxes never changes. All treadmills have buttons to push and settings to adjust making the user’s body a slave to the machine. It is true that such equipment in such boxes are useful when outdoor conditions are unfavorable. However, many people use bad weather as an excuse not to go to the gym as if it weren’t an enclosed, air-conditioned (or heated) box.
I am a bit spoiled because I work at a park and live near a couple of good trails. I think fresh air is more healthy than enclosed spaces with those high-tech air refresher things. The trails are surrounded by trees and have features such as streams, marshes, bridges, and other sights that keep the workout interesting. The presence of birds, squirrels, and other critters tend to liven things up as well. Sometimes it is best to go at a slower pace. Other times, it is good to pick things up a bit. My brain, body, and self-discipline dictate what, when, and how much I do per work out. When the weather is colder, I wear a couple of layers of clothes. A rain or snow day need not throw me off track. I can make up for it when conditions improve.
If you are able to hike for cardio fitness, I recommend the following steps:
- start with a trail that doesn’t have many quick changes in elevation. gradual slopes or one or two hills are sufficient even for veteran hikers who just want to burn a few calories.
- Walk the trail at a slow pace first to familiarize yourself with it. Know where it may get a bit muddy, icy, and other issues. It is good to have more than one trail to hike so that you have an alternative place to go.
- Make sure your footwear has good traction.
- Use hiking poles to add some upper body motion to your hiking.
- Dress appropriately. Use sunscreen, bug repellant and other things needed for any outdoor activity.