If you’ve been following the Cheap Medicine Blog, you know it’s all about inexpensive methods of self-care that can pay off big. Keeping to this effort, I have discovered what I think to be a very frugal means to exercise in your home that may cost you next to nothing.
In visiting family over the holidays, I discovered that my parents purchased a treadmill to help get in their daily walk whenever inclement weather is an issue. I have always recommended walking as an excellent form of daily exercise, carrying only the expense of a decent pair of shoes. Treadmills work well to carry that routine indoors but can come at a significant expense.
I’m not much of a runner. I will occasionally sprint outdoors in the warmer months but tend towards yoga and high-intensity workouts using weights. High-intensity workouts are brief and demanding, sometimes 10-20 minutes, and are followed by long periods (1-2 weeks) of recovery. Their advantage lies in the strong signal for increased conditioning that your body receives from a minimal time commitment. This can be done with weights, performing several compound exercises slowly and to muscle fatigue, or you could achieve a similar effect mixing slow walking with brief episodes of sprinting. These sudden bursts of activity encourage the release of growth hormone and help tone your frame as it prepares for future challenges. Steady-state walking is great to burn calories, increase circulation, and pump lymph, but you’ll never quite get that “grow stronger and more capable” signal like you would with a high-intensity routine.
Turning on my parent’s treadmill, I enjoyed a brief and pleasant walk on the hamster wheel. I then decided to experiment and see if I could produce a period of high-intensity that would have an effect similar to one of my strength workouts. I increased the speed and incline but I found the most challenge from simply turning the machine off, gripping the handlebars, and trying to push the belt with my feet. Not an easy task! It takes quite a bit of force to propel that belt as if the treadmill were on. Within minutes my legs had the characteristic burn of my muscles fatiguing and my breathing was clearly labored. I realized then and there that the best workout you can get from a treadmill doesn’t even require you plugging it in. So if nothing else, you could get a great workout and save on your energy bill; but then I got to thinking, you wouldn’t even need a working treadmill. That’s right, a broken treadmill could provide a super-class workout provided the belt still physically moves around the treadmill.
I’m quite sure the world has its fair share of broken-down treadmills. I wonder how many treadmills a large fitness center goes through in a year? I assume they would be overjoyed to avoid paying for their disposal and thus with only the time and effort it takes to transport it, you could have an excellent workout to get you through the winter months. Exercise is good medicine, and a free treadmill is cheap medicine at its best.