Exercising on the Treadmill, Why it is Doing More Harm Than Good


One of the most popular forms of exercise today is long-duration, low-intensity exercise, usually performed on a treadmill or outside on a track or pavement.

In addition, when you go to your gym or virtually any gym in the entire United States, you’ll find that most of the floor is dedicated to cardio equipment. Since we were young we have been told that longer duration exercise is better for your heart and overall health. We were told that keeping your heart rate steady at a low intensity was the most beneficial, or the fat burning zone.

Through recent advances in science and medicine, we have proven that not only is low intensity, long period exercise not optimal for training purposes, but may also be detrimental to our overall health. Short duration high intensity exercise is seen to have more of a positive effect on overall health than its long duration low intensity counterpart.

The point that longer duration, low intensity exercise is inferior to shorter duration high intensity exercise is believed to be attributed to the effect of stress on the body. When the body is over stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol.

Increased Cortisol Production

shutterstock_390237073Cortisol decreases the production of testosterone and human growth hormone which results in negative consequences. These hormones control your body’s metabolism and ability to put on lean muscle mass, two major reasons why we exercise. Along with doing that, it encourage fat storage, particularly around the waistline and upper thighs.

In addition to these negative effects, exercising for longer periods of time especially on a treadmill or on a hard surface puts a tremendous amount of stress and wear on the joints. This exercise not only deteriorates the joint themselves, but also encourages inflammation as a result of use, furthering the damaged done.

Evolution of Exercise

shutterstock_435565456Before humans developed agriculture which led to society as we know today, humans got their food from hunting and gathering. Our bodies were not designed to endure long periods of moderate exercise because of the amount of stress it puts on our bodies and how that stress affects us.

When we think about how we evolved, our bodies would be required to work in short quick bursts of energy. This is so that we both can catch prey, and avoid being caught be a predator ourselves.

Logically this tells us that our bodies will best respond and adapt to shorter term, high intensity exercise as a result of how we developed physiologically.  Research has shown that this exercise is not only effective in doing so, but can suppress cortisol production as well.

This means that we can invest less time in to our exercise routines, yet still reap the benefits from exercise itself. This means improved immune function, joint health, bone health and improved metabolism.

Just like endurance training, short duration high intensity exercise requires little to no equipment, and little knowledge to perform as well. All that you need is yourself and something to time your routine like a stopwatch. You can utilize your body weight to perform exercises that put similar stress on your body as if you were doing weight training.

The right amount of stress on your body for the appropriate amount of time is how you maximize your results in the shortest span of time possible. SDHI exercise can be done using traditional exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc. These exercises can also be combined to perform a new complex exercise as well as seen in “up-downs” which is a push up to a squat jump.