Treadmills have been around for a long time. But today, people are achieving impressive results by using nothing but a treadmill to lose weight, firm and tone body muscles, reduce cholesterol and achieve other health benefits. Is the action of walking on a treadmill somehow more productive than the same activity was 15 or 20 years ago?
The answer to that question is no. But your treadmill is smarter – and it’s passing that expertise on to the user through pre-programmed workout regimens designed by professionals to accomplish specific goals, such as burning more calories or maintaining the target heart rate for a specified number of minutes. Treadmills incorporate a few different technologies in order to make that happen.
Computerized, pre-programmed settings
When you hop on a treadmill, you have to tell the machine to start working. The first treadmills were limited to simple on and off controls, and possibly some ability to adjust the speed. But with today’s treadmills offering dozens of settings, including inclines and pre-programmed workouts, something has to tell the motor to start running and control when the platform inclines, when it speeds up, and so forth.
This whole process consists of two primary components: The motor which initiates the conveyor’s action, and a computer that tells the motor when to start and stop, as well as how fast to go. The computer inside a treadmill isn’t the same as the computer you use for work or school – it’s a simpler device designed to issue a few specific commands and controls.
Membrane switches for a custom user interface
While the motor and internal computer are critical components for a treadmill’s functionality, an equally important component is the user interface. The user interface is the dashboard where the user interacts with the machine. A great user interface can drastically improve a treadmill’s appeal, while a less-intuitive design can steer users to other models.
The user interface contains all the buttons that allow the user to control the treadmill’s functions. For instance, the user selects a certain speed, incline level, or a pre-programmed workout using the interface – and the treadmill then follows those commands. Today’s treadmills come equipped with much more sophisticated user interfaces, thanks to companies like Pannam that specialize in creating custom membrane switches for a variety of products and applications.
Incline adjustment capabilities
Walking on a flat surface is a great exercise alone, but users can now work different muscle groups and increase the intensity of a workout by increasing the incline of a treadmill. This technology is built in with mechanical components that raise the platform to various angles based on the user’s input.
A user walking a mile on a steep incline will burn more calories than a user who walks or runs the same distance on a flat surface. This is also useful for raising the heart rate, enabling users to reach target heart rates more readily for aerobic exercise.
So what’s the benefit of all these technological components? Treadmills built with this added functionality help the average person get more fit without going to the gym or investing in a pricey gym membership. It’s also more functional as a workout option when outdoor weather conditions aren’t desirable for a run or jog. And with some treadmills including heart rate monitors and tracking mechanisms that estimate the number of calories burned, users can create a more customized workout targeted to their personal fitness goals. Like it does in many fields, technology is making the fitness industry more convenient and more achievable for the average person than ever.