In Praise of the Treadmill

By Christian Stalley

Winter sucks. It’s pretty and all, when it’s sunny, but it’s also cold and dark and wet and slushy and just generally miserable. And yes, I know all the aphorisms about no bad weather, just insufficient clothing. I have sufficient clothing, but still prefer not to be out for extended periods in the winter.

Yet I’m writing about exercise and mental health? Yes.

I struggle in winter. The dark is unrelenting, both outside and in my mind. I know I need to exercise, get the endorphins, but it’s very often a battle I can’t win to get outside if I don’t have to (work and grocery shopping would be the only times I leave the house if I wasn’t careful). Running outside just seems a recipe for disaster (I broke my pelvis in my 20s, so am possibly more cautious than most about slipping and falling). Gyms have too many people, and are too noisy and expensive. So what’s a girl to do? (Or boy, or gender expression of your choice.)

I present to you the treadmill. I love my treadmill. Many hate them, calling them the dreadmill, but for me it is a cherished tool in my mental health armoury. On a dark and cold morning I can get up early and, dressed in only shorts, bra, socks, and sneakers, run as long as I want. I can listen to music, watch a video, or just meditate. My endorphins are raised and I have accomplished something difficult and tangible before getting dressed. That’s a great way to start the day.

Treadmills can be amazingly complicated and expensive, and if you can afford that, fill your boots. I got mine second hand for just over $100, and it was worth every penny, and the truck rental, and buying lunch for the friends that helped me move it. Now’s a good time to go looking for used treadmills; the post holiday reality check of ‘I’m never gonna use this’ or ‘I got a better one for a present’ means a whole lot of people want to get rid of a very large informal storage area, fast.

Don’t feel that using a treadmill is cheating, or less than. It’s a tool that helps you keep moving, both running and towards your mental health goals. I love mine and pat it every time I walk past it; a silent thank you for helping me on those dark, cold mornings.