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Is Walking on a Treadmill Good Exercise for a Pear-Shaped Body?

By Sam Ashe-Edmunds ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you’ve got a pear-shaped body, you’re carrying more weight below your waist than above. You may also have an excess concentration of fat around your midsection. This extra weight can put stress on your spine and lower back. A pear-shaped body also means you’re likely carrying more weight than is healthy, which can add stress to your knees, hips and ankles during a workout. Walking on a treadmill may be one of the best exercise choices for you, based on these factors.

Spot-reducing Weight

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t target specific areas for fat burning. When your body burns fat, it burns it from a variety of fat stores. Walking doesn’t burn fat mostly in your legs any more than pullups burn fat mostly in your arms. Exercising on a treadmill can help you build muscle in your legs, improving their look.

Less Stress

Certain types of exercise put more stress on your lower body. The more your feet leave the ground, the more you land on them with your body’s weight, causing your joints, tendons, muscles, spine and lower back to absorb this shock. Running is high-impact because both feet leave the ground at once. Riding a bike is non-impact because your feet rest on the pedals the entire time. Walking on a treadmill is low-impact because at least one foot remains in contact with the ground at all times.

While a non-impact elliptical workout may burn more calories per hour, depending on the type of treadmill you use, you may experience lower-body discomfort based on the pedaling motion. You might also build your quadriceps to the point you create “gymnast thighs” in this already problematic area.

Different Inclines

Setting your treadmill to positive and negative inclines helps you work different leg muscles. Raising the incline is like walking uphill; it works your calf muscles. Lowering the incline is similar to walking down a hill and recruits more quadriceps, located on your upper leg. While a negative incline will increase use of your quads, it won’t provide so much resistance that you’ll get bulky thighs.

Fat Burning

Walking on a treadmill at 3.5 mph helps a 155-pound person burn almost 298 calories per hour. Raise your speed to 4 mph and you’ll burn more than 330 calories per hour. The key to maximizing your calorie burn with walking on a treadmill is to find the highest speed you can walk without tiring after 10 minutes. If you can’t maintain a 3.5 mph pace, add one minute of faster walking every five or 10 minutes to temporarily raise your heart rate and improve your stamina for later walks. To increase fat burning during treadmill walks, use walking poles or dumbbells during your workout to help build more muscle and burn more calories.

Something to Consider

Walking on a treadmill or even outdoors has long been vaunted as an activity that's good for your heart health. Combined with a healthy diet, it may even help you become more trim. But new wisdom is on the rise; that diet and anaerobic work -- lifting weights -- may be a better option. Lifting weights such as barbells and dumbbells, or even using your own bodyweight, will not only build strong muscles, but the "burn" will continue long after your workout is over.

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