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Adjust treadmill training to fit your level of conditioning

Dear Dr. Donohue: My wife bought me an expensive treadmill for Christmas. I've been using it ever since, but I don't know if I'm using it right. How fast should I set its speed and incline to get a good workout?

- T.M.

Answer: Your wife went all out. She bought you the Rolls-Royce of treadmills, one where you can adjust both its speed and its incline. You'd better use it. Domestic upheaval is a sure bet if you don't.

When you start to run on it, adjust the speed at 2 mph. At first, you don't need to touch the incline at all. This is a warm-up session to get blood moving to your leg muscles. Warm up for three to five minutes.

Then it's up to you and to your level of conditioning.

At a speed of 4.5 mph, you're at jogging levels. If you find that speed makes you breathless, slow down. If you find it a snap, speed up.

You never need to increase the incline to more than 7 percent. Work you way up to that incline grade in slow increments.

Dear Dr. Donohue: I have heard so many conflicting views on vitamin C and colds that I don't know what to believe.

I run outdoors in winter. Every year I catch my share of colds, which put me out of commission and frustrate me. My neighbor insists vitamin C will prevent colds. What's your opinion?

Answer: My opinion is that vitamin C neither prevents colds nor speeds recovery from them. I don't believe it is harmful either.

However, I might change my views. Three separate studies have demonstrated that vitamin C in daily doses of 600 to 1,000 milligrams decreased the numbers of colds in carefully monitored test subjects.

If you'd like to read more about the studies, track down The International Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 5, 1996.

Even with that evidence, I remain skeptical. I want more proof before I become a true believer.