First of all, let me say that if you are getting up out of the chair or off the couch to exercise, I salute you. As far as that goes, I could care less whether you choose to go out for a walk or use a treadmill. Nor, at least at the start of your new exercise inclusive lifestyle, do I much care wherever you choose to do pushups and other bodyweight exercises, take up yoga, beginning lifting weights, or walking or jogging.

The point is that you are exercising. Once you have started making exercise a part of your life, one of the most important things you can ever do is … wait for it … do not stop!

However, some of you will opt for walking or running either as the major focus of your exercise routine, or as a means of getting the cardio portion of some larger exercise program. At some point, you will be walking through WalMart or Sears and the display of treadmills will catch your eye. You will see price tags ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousands.

To tell the truth, you could easily be sucked in by the high end models and wind up paying $ 5,000 or more for something that seems to do everything but cook your breakfast, wash your back, and sing you to sleep at night!

However, sometimes you do not need all the gadgets and gadgets! Maybe you do not even need a treadmill. Maybe you are just being seduced by the dark side of the treadmill force. There is not doubt that it can be terribly seductive.

Let's take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of exercising on a treadmill. Maybe that will help you decide just how much treadmill you can handle, pardner. In fact, you may decide that you do not really need a treadmill at all!

As an after here, one of the major reasons for owning a treadmill is to get an aerobic (cardio) workout. For many people, and for many reasons, elliptical trainers, stair steppers, and / or stationary bicycles may be a better option entirely. For the moment, however, we will just compare apples to apples and try to figure out the advantages and disadvantages of exercising on a treadmill … or not.

One of the first thoughts a person will have on the subject is "the weather"!

Obviously, a treadmill is generally going to be set up inside. It will be protected from temperature fluctuations and will typically be in a place that is heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer. It will be accessible during rain, snow, sleet, and dark of night.

Sounds like an ad for the US Postal Service!

Anyway, that's a definite advantage in my book. Score "1" for the treadmill.

So, what's a disadvantage?

Well, what if you want to do something like a triathlon, hike mountain trails, ski, or run cross country? A treadmill, while a steady platform to build up stamina on is … well, a steady platform. Those types of activities place the participant in some ankle-twisting, position-changing situations. That steady platform may be good for the cardio aspect, but not too good at preparing someone for the special demands of such activities.

It's still kinda iffy, however, and you may have to toss a coin. While you really may need to concentrate on the activities themselves, a treadmill CAN still provide the cardio training aspect and does provide a ready training environment even when you can not make it to an exercise venue of the type where you will be participating or competitive.

I say the treadmill still has the advantage because it can be there for you through all sorts of situations.

What if privacy is an issue. Many people, especially those starting out with an exercise program are a little embarrassed about it. Well, the treadmill definitely comes out ahead here because you can put one in your home for a relatively small amount of money, and nobody will ever see you except the cat and your spouse or partner, if you have either.

Of course, there are aspects to exercising on a treadmill which may not be available in the "real" world.

For example, most treadmills today have specific exercise routines programmed into them. Most will speed the belt up, slow it down, and raise or lower the running surface to provide varying levels of resistance or cardio exercise. This can simulate variables which may not actually be available in your area such as running up hills. Also, the programs can challenge you to achieve new levels of activity and fitness. However, if the treadmill exercise programs are too much, you can also generally tailor your own.

A treadmill can also be more effective and safer. Not only is it inside away from freezing cold, torrential downpours, crazy drivers, and vicious dogs, many also have heart rate monitors which allow you to not only stay attuned to what your exercise level is but to major fluctuations or deviations which may signal a need to slow things down or even take a break!

While it is common to see someone running with ear buds and an i-pod, sometimes this can be a bit dangerous. I personally like the idea of ​​being able to hear the car that's about to run over me! Many treadmills these days not only have some form of music system or capability to hook up to one, but quite a few have built-in TV's as well.

when you get to cost, NOT having a treadmill seems to win hands-down. It's way cheaper NOT to own one. However, I personally believe that a lot of people are more likely to exercise with one than if they have to go out in the heat / cold, dodge traffic and dogs, and avoid the neighborhood gossips.

In the long run, no pun intended, however, having run a few thousand miles in my lifetime, many of them compliments of a certain contract with Uncle Sam, I do not really feel that the quality of exercise differs whether you have one or not. I can only point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of exercising with a treadmill, but it will be up to you to evaluate your needs, including your financial condition, and either buy a treadmill or a new set of cold-weather exercise clothes.