Whole-Body Wellness Challenge: 3 Ways to Turn a Treadmill Walk into a Workout

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

When you’re on a treadmill, it can be easy to go through the motions. Here’s how to make the most of your time indoors.

The Whole-Body Wellness Challenge is rooted in the understanding that health isn’t just about fitness. This month, we’re sharing fun and easy ways to bring everything you love about SilverSneakers classes and your time at the gym to other areas of your life. You’ll find workouts, tips, and activities to help you build strength, eat healthier, sleep sounder, and be more present in your life so you can feel good—body, mind, and spirit.   

Walking is one of the best ways to stay active every day. Not only does it boost your fitness and burn calories, it also builds strength in your lower body and core. Plus, it can be a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and enjoy the energizing effect of being out in nature.   

When the weather isn’t on your side, though, the treadmill can be a trusty alternative to help you stick with your goals. “Walking on a treadmill is a great way to challenge your fitness and build strength,” says SilverSneakers instructor Shannon Thigpen.   

That is, if you know how to use it effectively.   

Here, Shannon shares her tips for how to shake up your treadmill routine, beat the boredom, and get even more out of your workouts. She’ll demonstrate how to get started (safely) and how to adjust the settings on your treadmill to match the effort you’d exert outdoors. Then, she’ll go over how to create your own interval workout by playing with the incline and speed.   

Whether you’re a regular treadmill user or treat it as your plan B for fitting in fitness when you can’t get outside, you’ll definitely want to tune in.   

How to Use These Tips to Create a Treadmill Walking Workout  

This 5-minute video is all about how to use a treadmill to get an effective and fun walking workout. We recommend watching this through before you try it yourself. This way, you can avoid distractions and focus on safety when you’re actually on the treadmill.   

If you’d like to incorporate these intervals into your routine, follow Shannon’s guidance to create your own full-length workout. Her suggestion:  

  • 5-minute warmup 
  • 20 minutes of alternating incline and speed intervals 
  • 5-minute cooldown 

“I promise you’ll get a really good workout,” she says. 

Your incline and speed intervals can be 1 to 5 minutes long depending on your fitness and comfort levels. Here’s an example of how to structure the intervals:  

  • Raise the incline and walk at a comfortable pace for 1 minute 
  • Return to your lower, starting incline and walk at a faster (but still comfortable) pace for 1 minute 
  • Raise the incline again and slow your tempo for 1 minute  
  • That’s one round 
  • Continue alternating for 20 minutes  

Remember to make any changes to your speed or incline gradually. “If you find that you’re gripping really tight, you are not at an intensity that’s right for you,” says Shannon.   

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Also, be mindful of your form. “When you’re going on a higher incline, make sure you’re digging those heals in, you’re up nice and tall, and you’re letting your legs do the work.”  

Don’t have access to a treadmill? Don’t worry! You can still incorporate intervals into your walking routine, whether you’re outside or inside. Here are some walking variations to get you started 

As always, safety is key. Be sure to attach the safely clip before you hit “Go.” And feel free to adjust the pace, incline, or interval lengths to meet your needs. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.  

Bonus Challenge: Try a Zumba Gold Class 

Want another way to be active (and have fun) indoors? Zumba Gold is a 45-minute class that introduces easy-to-follow Zumba choreography to help you improve your balance, range of motion, and coordination. No equipment or dance skills required! It’s offered both in-person at participating SilverSneakers fitness locations (review the gym’s schedule for exact times), or online with SilverSneakers LIVE. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.  

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