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Expert
Question:

Do you get the same workout running on a treadmill that you get running at the track? — Alison, GA

Steven Blair

Answer:

The single most important component of an exercise program, in terms of physiological adaptation and health benefits, is the total energy expended in the activity. Therefore, if you spend 300 calories on the treadmill or 300 calories at the track, the benefits should be comparable. There could be some slight differences in physiological responses under some conditions. For example, if you walked on a treadmill at a 15% grade, you would be using your muscles somewhat differently, and perhaps even different muscles, than if you were running on a level track at the same level of energy expenditure. There are similar benefits for both treadmill and track running concerning improvements in HDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and cardio-respiratory fitness.

 

About Steven Blair

Steven N. Blair is Director of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and Director of Research at The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, and also serves as Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at universities in Texas and South Carolina. Dr. Blair is a Fellow in the American College of Epidemiology and the American College of Sports Medicine.

His research focuses on the associations between lifestyle and health, with a specific emphasis on exercise, physical fitness, body composition, and chronic disease. His latest book, Fitness after 50, written with Drs. Walter Ettinger and Brenda Mitchell, describes how older men and women can increase their physical activity to improve their health and function.


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