You’re never too old to break the defeating habit of holding onto a treadmill, even if you have heart disease, stiff knees, etc. Holding on is good only for nothing.

How long you’ve been practicing the habit of holding onto a treadmill is not relevant to your ability to break this habit.

So whether you’re thinking, “This is the way I’ve been doing it for YEARS,” or, “I just started a few weeks ago,” makes no difference.

This habit has got to go.

How a man over 65 can break habit of holding onto treadmill.


Some men might be like, “Oh, I didn’t know it made a difference,” and let go just like that with the same speed they’ve always used.

But if they’ve been using an incline, they’re in for a sweet surprise when they quickly realize that walking the incline (at their usual speed) will be so much harder without hanging on.

LOWER the incline. Or…decrease the speed.

If you’ve been an incline user, think of how slow you’d walk up a hiking trail. It would not be nearly as fast as your treadmill speed while you hold on.

A realistic hiking speed for a 15 percent grade trail is 1.5 mph. That may seem ridiculously slow—but we’re talking a 15 percent grade here.

Try 1.5 mph at 15 percent incline on a treadmill without holding on; move your arms as you would if hiking outdoors. Go for 10 minutes. Trust me, you’re going to feel like you’re working out.

If this is too difficult, can’t say it enough: lower the incline, or even go down to one mph. And if 1.5 is too easy, try 1.8 mph. Find your sweet spot.

A man, even one over 65, may think it will look silly walking 1.5 mph. It won’t. What looks silly is holding on at high speeds and leaning back at the same angle as the incline, which totally cancels out the incline.

Leaning forward while holding on won’t mitigate this because leaning forward while holding on requires you to tug at the machine with each step.

If you don’t use the incline, start at a slower speed than usual, unless, again, your mindset is, “Oh, I never realized holding on defeats the purpose,” and you feel confident to just let go but stay at your usual speed.

If you fear falling off, can’t say it enough: SLOW down. Walk two mph if this is what it takes to acclimate to swinging your arms in rhythm with the rest of your body. You will acclimate faster than you think.

Dizziness
If you begin getting dizzy, slow down; this only means your body is so used to clutching the treadmill that it’s not used to walking unsupported.

There’s only one way to fix this: Keep walking hands-free. But at a slower speed. Do not hold on if you feel dizzy.

Think of the dizziness as a withdrawal symptom. Resist it. Don’t give in. Go down to 1.5 mph if you must. Don’t worry what other people think of “the old guy crawling on the treadmill.”

Trust me: You look sillier holding on.

Now, if the dizziness feels like you’re going to topple over, discontinue use of the machine; something is wrong and you need to get off and recharge.

A person, even over age 65, should not topple over from dizziness while walking 1.5 mph on a zero grade treadmill.

If the dizziness persists, this could indicate any number of medical problems; see a doctor.

Don’t feel you must spend 30 minutes on the machine, either. Go hands-free for five minutes at a time if it feels weird.

The reason it feels weird, as it will for some men, is because your body has been doing the wrong thing for so long.

This is akin to sitting straight and upright in a chair for the first time in years, when previously you’ve always slouched. Of course it will feel strange.

But walking with good posture, moving the arms naturally, with good spinal alignment, is the right thing to do on a treadmill.

People over 65 who claim they’ll fall off without holding on all have one thing in common: They have the machine’s speed set too fast for what they can handle.

I don’t even know any 20-somethings who could sustain a walk at 15 percent, and FOUR mph without holding on!

Be realistic. Mimic outdoor hiking speed. You’d never attempt to charge up a hill at four mph, I guarantee it. What you think is four mph outdoors uphill is likely closer to three or even 2.5 mph.

Being over 65 is no excuse for holding onto a treadmill. This habit needs to be busted once and for all.

The presumption with these instructions is that you don’t need a walker or cane to ambulate in your daily life.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building and fitness.