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As a cardiovascular exercise:
- Like other complex cardiovascular exercises (similar to non-treadmill walking/running), treadmill training can improve endurance and provide a wide variety of health benefits.
- Treadmills offer the benefit of reduced impact since all treadmills offer some sort of shock absorption. Exercising on a treadmill can reduce the strain to the ankles, knees and lower back that would be involved in running on a normal surface.
As an indoor activity:
- Users who would not run/walk outdoors (e.g. due to unfavorable weather conditions, uneven road surfaces, dangerous neighborhoods or unwanted attention) may use an indoor treadmill.
- Users who do not wish to join a gym may use an indoor treadmill at home.
- Users can do other things while exercising, such as watching television or reading.
As a machine:
- Enables exact calculation and adjustment of slope and speed.
- As most of the factors of the activity are known, the energy expended may be calculated.
- Some treadmills have special features such as step count, heart rate monitors, and number of calories expended.
- Many users find treadmills tedious and lose interest after a period.
- Cost of purchase and electricity to run the treadmill is significantly greater than running outside.
- Takes up space in homes (disadvantage reduced by "folding treadmill" option).
- May cause personal injury if not used properly.
- Can make a loud grinding noise if the belt keeps slipping.
- Lack of wind resistance makes running on a treadmill easier than it would otherwise be on an equal elevation grade outdoors. Training for outdoor races is complicated due to the subtle differences.
- Imposes a strict pace on runners, giving an unnatural feel to running which can cause a runner to lose balance.