Use these treadmill tips to upgrade your winter workouts.
Weight loss scale
Credit: Lee Harrelson

It's chilly outside, but don't let the weather freeze out your exercise routine. The treadmill is a safe, warmer way to stay in shape during the winter months. Yes, it can be a bit boring, but with simple planning, it is worth the effort.

Your heart rate will usually be lower on a treadmill, compared to the same pace on an outdoor path, because you don't face wind, heat or rough terrain. Also, the treadmill is pushing your legs instead of you pulling your body forward. To counteract this push from the treadmill, change the grade (or incline) every so often during your workout.

In fact, a 1% grade should be used as a minimum. Running without any incline at 0% is just like running on a slight downhill slope. But remember, as you increase your incline for a steeper hill workout, make sure you cut back a little on the speed. If you were outside walking or running, your body would slow down naturally as it headed uphill, but the treadmill won't know to do this unless you tell it.

To get the most out of your indoor workouts, don't settle in at the same pace and the same incline every time you step on the treadmill. Change your incline or your pace or both for varying lengths of time. You may not be able to read or focus on the TV show when you are making adjustments, but the benefits to your workout will be worth the extra effort and distraction. So stay warm, and get moving.

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Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, CEDRD is a registered, licensed dietitian, spinning instructor, and certified specialist in sports nutrition and eating disorders. She is the author of Rev It Up-The Lifestyle Diet That Puts You In The Driver's Seat.