By Joey Papa on November 23, 2009

While the treadmill was an excellent invention for people who didn’t want to leave their home to walk 3 miles, it has one downfall: energy consumption.

Abandoning the TreadmillWhile the treadmill is an excellent invention for people who don’t want to leave their home to walk 3 miles, it has one downfall: energy consumption. The home workout has changed over the last decade as people have become more earth conscious — so much that exercise trends have come full circle back to the basics. In the 1980s, home workout equipment skyrocketed with a tremendous spike in sales. While many people made good use out of these expensive machines, most were left to collect dust. Most treadmill owners realize just how costly they are to their wallet and the environment.

According to, the average treadmill uses 1.5kWh of electricity for a one-hour workout. This is on average $8 a month (possibly even more if you leave the treadmill plugged in when not in use), meaning an individual will spend just as much on electricity to run the treadmill in two-and-a-half years as he or she did to purchase it. Not only do people end up spending more money on the electricity to power the treadmill, but they will also need some sort of entertainment to keep their attention. Treadmills, along with other exercise equipment, are boring because they're cooped up indoors, so people use TVs, mp3 players and other electronics to keep themselves entertained, leading to more energy consumption.

Although it may sound a bit nitpicky to some, if you account for the electricity used to power the exercise equipment, the lights, the entertainment electronics and the heat or air conditioning, a lot of money and energy can be saved by using the earth’s natural resources to exercise. Instead of using an artificial environment to facilitate a workout, why not use nature’s beauty and intrigue for inspiration?

Getting outdoors is also better for your health. Indoor air is considered to be seven times more toxic than outdoor air, according to Greg Horn, former CEO of GNC, so when you work out inside, your lungs are working harder, expanding and taking in more oxygen. Outdoor air can do you good, both for your physical and mental health.

In addition to these benefits, there are a few inventions in the making that will allow a person to capture the energy he or she is using to exercise and turn it into electricity. For example, Larry Rome, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has created a backpack that uses the motion of a person walking or running to produce enough electricity to operate a cell phone or mp3 player. Inventions like this will be perfected and eventually hit the market, allowing the average person to use the energy produced during a workout for electronics.

The New York Times claims that many gyms are going green by installing generators in newer exercise equipment, cutting costs on the energy used to operate the gym. This is an excellent step toward making the world more energy efficient, yet is it better than getting outdoors and using your energy?

The outdoors offer endless possibilities, from rock climbing, to taking a brisk walk on the beach or a jog through the mountains. No matter where you live, there is always a great place to explore close by that can provide excitement, enjoyment and relaxation. The next time you need a good workout, leave the expensive, energy-sucking equipment and gym memberships behind and venture outdoors to for your eco (and financial) benefit.

About the author

Joey Papa is a freelance writer in Tampa, FL, where he lives with his wife and son and daughter. Writing is more than a job for Joey; it's a way to express his passion and convictions through the written word.

His favorite subjects to write about are health and wellness, travel and creative writing.

Learn more about Joey Papa


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