Getting the right treadmill for your body and budget!

The Healthy Human Blog

Tips For Nutrition & Fitness So You Can Live As A Healthy Human

Create the Perfect Playlist and Improve Your Performance by 15%

Music is good for your soul, but it’s also good for your body.  It makes us move!

To illustrate music’s amazing ability to stimulate movement, imagine a Parkinson’s patient who can only shuffle along with the help of a walker.  Now imagine him setting that walker aside and dancing with a young woman in his arms.  This is possibly with the simple addition of a music track playing in the background. It’s true, see for yourself!

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, music can shift moods, help manage stress, facilitate cognitive function, and even coordinate motor movements.  This is possible because music can be directly interpreted by the motor center of the brain.

Now we can take that same principle and apply it to a runner or endurance athlete.  Quite simply, music can make you run farther, faster, and easier if you find the right type of tunes.

Music Can Help Increase Running Performance

sportsman running on the beach in TelAvivScientists have discovered that music can make a huge difference in your exercise performance.  A study from the University of Toronto found that music can increase the length of your workout by up to 70 percent if the tempo is correctly synced to the pace of your stride.

The researchers found that participants with music felt like they weren’t exerting as much energy into their workout.  Yet they were able to increase the endurance, intensity, and duration of their workouts.

Best of all, this increased energy didn’t end with the workout.  The effects lasted throughout the day to help the athletes be more productive and energized.  The researchers are anxious to perform more studies so they can figure out what it is about auditory stimulation that makes moving easier, makes the stride longer, and makes the muscles move with more intensity.

Which Kind of Runner Are You?

Whether or not music will increase your treadmill performance depends on the type of athlete you are.  Dr. Coastas Karageoghis, author of Inside Sport Psychology, says music can increase your running performance by 15% but only if you are a certain type of runner.

According to Karageoghis, elite athletes tend to focus inwardly when they are running so they are called ‘associators.’  Other runners look for distraction while they workout so they are called ‘dissociators.’

Associators are perfectly happy listening to the quiet beat of their footsteps while they pound away the miles.  They are inwardly focused and would actively try to tune out any music that they happen to hear.  Dissociators, who are more common, are going to enjoy and be energized by the music coming through their headphones.

What is Your Right Type of Music to Listen to During a Run?

If you are a dissociator who loves music, this doesn’t mean that just ANY music will do.  You need to find a playlist that has the correct number of beats per minute (BPM) to match your stride and rhythm.  This tempo is going to roughly match your heart rate while you run to help energize your steps.

There are several ways to find your ideal BPM, but the easiest way is to simply count the number of steps that you take in one minute.  For example, if you take around 142 steps while running for one minute, you may be energized by this Bruno Mars song.

The correct BPM is going to vary with the speed of your workout, your stride length, and intensity.  An article in the New York Times explained that for a power walker going at 4.5 MPH, this is usually going to be around 137 to 139 BPM.  A runner is typically going to be around 147-160 BPM.

Sometimes you can use your mile time and treadmill speed to find an estimate for your ideal BPM.  This source lists some common times:

12:00 minutes/mile = 05.00 mph = 130 bpm
11:30 minutes/mile = 05.22 mph = 135 bpm
11:00 minutes/mile = 05.45 mph = 140 bpm
10:30 minutes/mile = 05.71 mph = 145 bpm
10:00 minutes/mile = 06.00 mph = 150 bpm
09:30 minutes/mile = 06.32 mph = 155 bpm
09:00 minutes/mile = 06.67 mph = 160 bpm
08:30 minutes/mile = 07.06 mph = 165 bpm
08:00 minutes/mile = 07.50 mph = 170 bpm
07:30 minutes/mile = 08.00 mph = 175 bpm
07:00 minutes/mile = 08.57 mph = 180 bpm
06:30 minutes/mile = 09.23 mph = 185 bpm
06:00 minutes/mile = 10.00 mph = 190 bpm
05:30 minutes/mile = 10.91 mph = 195 bpm
05:00 minutes/mile = 12.00 mph = 200 bpm

How to Find the Right Playlist for Your Runs

Once you’ve figured out the right song tempo, you need to actually generate a playlist that you can use during your next run.  There are several ways to do this.

  • If you want to automate the process you could use analyzing software like MixMeister ($3.99) to look at all of the songs in your computer’s music library.  These programs aren’t perfect and tend to get around 20-30% of the songs wrong.  This might not seem like a big deal until you’re nearing the end of a tough run and Un-Break My Heart suddenly starts wailing away.  Talk about a downer!
  • Next you can try a series of apps for your smart phone available for both iPhone and Android.
  • If you want to use the songs in your music library and sort them yourself, you can use this manual tapper tool.
  • Finally, you can let someone else do the work for you and use a pre-generated list from a site like Running Playlist. They have playlists already created for a variety of speeds, music genres, and running distances.

Music on Your Treadmill

Most quality treadmills today have some sort of music function built into the console.  Often, they will allow you to plug in your iPod or phone so the music can play directly from the treadmill speakers.

Other machines, like the Yowza Boca, have Bluetooth functions that will play your music automatically.

It’s easier than ever to listen to tunes while you work out.  Now you can use the right BPM playlist to kick your workout into high gear!

What are you favorite songs to listen to while you work out?  Do you know what your personal BPM is?

7 Ways to Use Active Recovery in Your Home

Every serious athlete knows that it’s important to take rest days when you’re training for a big race.  These recovery days let your mind and body recuperate, heal, and recharge before your next hard session.

There are two main types of recovery.  ‘Passive’ recovery is when you take a day off completely from exercise.  Another type of recovery is called ‘active recovery.’

Image Credit: By Roger Mommaerts - Flickr: Austin Marathon Relay 2009 116, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Foam rollers are a great form of active recovery that help promote blood flow to your muscles. Image Credit: By Roger Mommaerts – Flickr

Active recovery is any easy to moderate exercise that can help get your blood flowing to your muscles to help them recover.  You can choose to do a light run with a shorter distance and lower intensity or you can choose from a number of other active recovery strategies.

The idea with active recovery is that it will help your body recover better than just rest alone. The amount of exercise that is considered a ‘light workout’ needs to be appropriate for your particular fitness level.

If you are a couch-to-5K warrior who is just starting your training, a brisk walk or hike would be perfectly adequate to get your blood flowing and help your body recharge.  On the other hand, a regular marathon runner, might jog an easy 2-3 miles on their active recovery day.

Overall, you should feel better after your workout than you did beforehand.  If you feel worse, than you likely pushed too hard.

Why Does Active Recovery Help So Much?

Active recovery helps promote the blood flow to your sore muscles and joints.  Waste products from muscle breakdown can be carried away while fresh blood can deliver nutrients and warmth.  This action helps repair and rebuild the tiny micro-tears in your muscles after a strenuous workout.

Depending on the source, some people consider only light exercise to be ‘active recovery’ while other sources would include things like massage and foam rolling.  Regardless of how you define it, active recovery, or promoting that blood flow is great for your body.

A study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that active recovery (light exercise) did a better job of reducing lactic acid build up in muscles when compared to sports massage or plain resting.

Image Credit

After intense exercise, muscles need to repair and rebuild themselves.  Image Credit

Better recovery means a better performance next time it counts.  Try out some of these active recovery methods to help your body heal on your non-training days.

7 Ways to Use Active Recovery to Enhance Your Performance

  1. Foam Rolling – We are a HUGE fan of foam rolling because it is a great way to do self-massage. The technical name for this technique is self-myofascial release (SMR).  SMR can be done with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or massage stick.  Roll out your muscles concentrating on all of the major muscle groups for at least 30 seconds.  Spend extra time rolling out any particularly sore areas.
  2. Walking– Use your treadmill to go for an easy walk. This is not the time to crank up the incline and speed.  Just let your body relax, get your blood flowing, and remember that this is a ‘recovery’ day.  If you have a machine with interactive virtual display, this would be a great time to try a new virtual course through a fun international location.  Or you can turn on your TV and enjoy a show while you walk.  You should feel relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards, not exhausted.
  3. Light Weight Lifting – Strength training is a vital component to any exercise plan. It allows you to focus on weak areas of your body to provide core support and can even improve your running stride.  Very light weight lifting can also be used as a form of active recovery.  Just remember not to overdo it.
  4. Swimming – The fantastic thing about swimming is the pure weightlessness of the activity. Go for a relaxing swim to loosen up your muscles and get your blood moving.
  5. Elliptical Training – Ellipticals provide another great way to get a low-impact exercise session in. You’re often working harder than you realize on an elliptical because they provide a lower perceived rate of exercise. So, remember to take it easy.
  6. Cycling – Cycling is another great low-impact aerobic activity. Be sure to match the cycling workout to your current fitness level.
  7. Yoga – Holding yoga poses and flowing through the motions is an effective way to get your heart pumping blood to all of those muscles in need of repair. It’s a wonderful form of active recovery.

Don’t Over-Do it With Active Recovery

Using the principles of active recovery, you can help heal your muscles faster and avoid some lingering soreness.

Just remember to be smart.  If you are feeling really run down, a day of passive recovery may be just the ticket.  If you are feeling pain that does not go away after recovery days, you may have an injury that needs medical attention.

How to Find the Right Shoes & Recognize Common Foot Ailments

Plantar Fasciitis (Image Credit)

Plantar Fasciitis (Image Credit)

Painful feet are impossible to ignore when you’re working out on a treadmill.  With each step, your feet strike the ground with a force equal to 3-5 times your body weight.  That means a 150 lb person will experience 450-750 lbs of force per leg per step.  It’s no wonder we can experience painful side effects!

How the Right Running Shoes Can Protect Your Feet

One of the best things you can do to minimize pain or injury is make sure that you’re in the right type of shoe.  People often make the mistake of using time as an indicator of when it’s time to get new sneakers.  Really, you should use distance as your indicator.

If a pair of shoes is older than 400-600 miles, then chances are, you’re ready for a new pair.  Be on the lookout for sharply defined creases in the outside foam of your sneaker.  Also, be aware of any ‘off-feelings’ like unusual pains in your knees or hips.  These could be signs that you need new sneakers.

Important Features on a Good Running Shoe

shoes1When you go running shoe shopping, it’s best to go to a running store where the salesmen is an active runner.  They will be able to look at your natural gait and recommend a good match.

Salesmen often look to see your pronation angle or how much you turn your foot in while running.  Often, people with flatter feet, tend to pronate while those with higher arches have a more neutral impact.  Still, there are exceptions so it’s good to have a professional take a look.

The ‘drop’ of the shoe is another important feature to consider.  Most shoes have a 10-12 mm height difference between the heel and the forefoot.  Shoes with too small of a drop (like 4-6 mm) can put extra strain on the Achilles tendon or calf muscles.

The salesman can also help you find the right shoe for your type of running.  If you are mostly running on the treadmill, you will likely want a road running shoe with a soft midsole and less aggressive tread.  Among road running shoes, you can choose between mild stability, moderate stability, and motion control.  Again, this all has to do with the shape of your foot, how you walk, and how your arch flexes.

If you plan to hit the trails when the weather warms up, you may want a trail running shoe with more tread and a stiffer design.  Or, go to the other extreme and get a minimalist shoe to simulate barefoot running.  Be cautious here because a sudden transition to a minimalist shoe can cause injury.  Take it slow and get some advice before you proceed.

5 Other Common Foot Problems for Runners

If your shoes are in order and you’re still experiencing foot problems, perhaps you have one of these common ailments:

Stress Fracture (Image Credit)

Stress Fracture (Image Credit)

Plantar Fasciitis

The ligament (flat band of tissue) that connects your heel bone to your toes is called your plantar fascia.  This is the part of your foot that supports your arch.  If you strain this ligament it can become weak, swollen, and inflamed.  It will hurt to stand or walk on your foot.  This injury is more common in runners who roll their feet inwards (pronation), have high arches, or those with flat feet.

Stress Fracture

This injury is most common with people who are overdoing it at the gym.  Our bones are constantly breaking down and repairing on the microscopic level just like our body’s muscles.  If small micro fractures are not given enough time to repair before the next load-bearing exercise, they can join together to form a larger stress fracture.  These are common in the metatarsal bones, navicular bone, and in the heel bone.  The first symptom is pain that develops towards the end of a workout and goes away with rest.

Turf Toe (Credit Mayo Foundation)

Turf Toe (Credit Mayo Foundation)

Turf Toe

This injury involves a sprain to the ligament around the joint of the big toe.  It is common in athletes who spend a lot of time on artificial ‘turf’ fields which are harder than regular grass.  If the big toe joint is over-extended regularly the athlete may experience sudden pain, swelling and limited joint movement.

Athlete’s foot

No one wants to have this annoying and painful foot rash, but it is the most common fungal skin infection.  It is most often spread by walking barefoot around swimming pools or locker rooms.  The skin on your feet and between your toes will burn and itch.  Luckily non-prescription anti-fungal sprays provide an easy first step to treat this condition.


Blisters on your feet form when fluid

Image Credit

Athlete’s Foot (Image Credit)

collects under the top layer of skin due to friction with your shoe.  Blisters are often filled with the clear watery part of your blood called serum.  If a blister forms, try your best not to pop it.  Usually your skin will absorb the fluid on its own.  Then, keep the area clean and dry until it heels.  If you are getting blisters from your shoes on a regular basis, you may want to reevaluate the fit of your shoes.


RICE:  Basic Treatment for Foot Problems

We are not doctors, so we would first and foremost suggest that you consult with a qualified physician if you are experiencing ongoing foot pain.  They can help you identify, treat, and avoid future occurrences of foot related injuries.

With that being said, we can recommend the RICE principle that may provide relief if you are experience running-related foot pain.

REST:  At the first sign of a non-serious injury, you should rest and protect the injured area.  Give yourself a break from whatever activity caused the pain.  If you’ve been putting in the miles day after day on your treadmill, take a break and do some yoga to give your body some relief.  (Be smart.  If you suspect your injury is serious, seek medical attention immediately.)

ICE:  Ice is an excellent tool to reduce pain and swelling.  Apply an icepack to the injured area for 10-20 minutes several times a day.  After 2-3 days, if the swelling is gone, switch to heat for pain relief.

COMPRESSION:  Wrapping the injured foot in an elastic bandage can help decrease swelling.  Be careful not to wrap too tightly or you can cause swelling below the injury.  If this doesn’t help the problem in 2-3 days, talk to a doctor, because you may have a more serious injury.

ELEVATION:  A final way to minimize swelling is to keep your injured foot at or above the level of your heart.  Prop up your foot with pillows while icing.

Medicines like Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) can also help reduce swelling and ease pain.  Be safe and follow all label instructions.  When in doubt, consult with a trainer or physician for any injury.

Take the Mystery Out of Calorie Counting for Weight Loss

scale“Eliminate carbs… eat cabbage soup… fill these colored containers… eat high protein… avoid gluten…  eat high fat… eat low fat… try juicing… eat only meat… eat this superfood… try this supplement… eat this many ‘points’… “

The diet list goes on and on!

Some of these diets work and some of them just don’t.  All of them try to fix a problem without fulling explaining the science (or perhaps we should say math) behind weight loss.

Calories in and calories out.  It’s really pretty simple…

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How to Make the Most of Your New Treadmill

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to buy a treadmill!

Buying a treadmill is just the first step towards better health and living for you and your family.  A treadmill will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, have more energy, and tone your muscles.

Treadmill machines can vary greatly in pricing and features.  Use our Treadmill Buyers Guide to learn about the various treadmill features so you can find the right machine for your body and budget.

Many people make the mistake of buying a treadmill and then using it as an expensive clothes hanger.  Here are 7 tips to help you make the most out of your new piece of exercise equipment.

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Top Reasons Why You Should Ditch Your Office Chair

Tired-woman-at-desk_optThere’s a good chance many people who read this will be standing nervously by the end of the article.  I know I was…

Every day, more scientists are talking about the negative side effects of sitting hour after hour, day after day.  In fact, the World Health Organization lists physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for death.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time can compromise metabolic health and put you at much higher risk for some pretty terrifying health risks.

A report in Scientific American cited 18 studies over a period of 16 years covering 800,000 people and concluded that, “Americans sit for most of their waking hours, 13 hours every day on average.”

One of the main reasons that people sit too much is because they are shackled to a desk at work.  Here are some health risks associated with long days in a desk chair…

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Treading Through Time

The first home treadmill was released in 1968 by Aerobics, Inc. (Image Source)

The first home treadmill was released in 1968 by Aerobics, Inc. (Image Source)

We make it our business to know everything we can about treadmills and their benefits.  That is why were wanted to share this exciting look into the 2,000 year long history of a machine that is used by millions.  So how did the first treadmills come to be?  Were they always used for exercise?  You may be surprised  by the answers… Continue reading

Really Tall? … Just Going to Walk? … Learn How to Pick the Right Treadmill

C1650_2016A treadmill that works perfectly for one person might be completely and totally wrong for the next person.  Factors like height, weight, stride length, and exercise preferences can change the type of machine that will give you an ideal workout.  Here is our guide to help you choose a treadmill that is a suitable match for your body type.

Motor Size

The size of your treadmill’s motor will be determined in part by the type of workout you plan to do.  Are you a walking warrior or are you a marathon runner?  This will make a huge difference in the type of machine that is best for you.

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Pros and Cons of Our Top Mid-Range Treadmills

If you’re committed to making a healthy change this year, then you are likely trying to find the best treadmill out there.  You want something that will help you meet your goals but not totally break the bank.

We’ve compiled this list of our top picks for treadmills in the $1,000 to $1,499 price range.  Each of these machines has been rated on company reputation, durability, stability, warranty, programming, and ergonomics.  Our team members have personally tested the machines and met with manufacturers to help you find the best treadmill for your body and budget.

Click on any individual treadmill to read our complete review, see current pricing, and see special sales offers:

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Learn How You Can Exercise Just One Hour per Week

One of the top reasons that people don’t exercise is a lack of time.  It’s not surprising with our modern society.  People are busy with work, kids, long commutes, and endless chores.  That is why we’re especially excited to introduce a program called Sprint 8 from Matrix Fitness.

runner-1561817-640x480Matrix Fitness is the fasted growing commercial brand on the globe.  You’ve likely seen their machines in health clubs and spas.  The company recently released a whole new line of machines designed specifically for use in a private home.  Best of all, these machines include the Sprint 8 program.

This High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout was developed by Dr. Phil Campbell and is scientifically proven to produce real results.  The Sprint 8 program will allow you to exercise just one cumulative hour per week.

Sound too good to be true?  Let’s take a look at the science backing the program.

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