Is Your Treadmill Killing You?

One of the most popular forms of exercise today is long duration low intensity exercise, usually performed on a treadmill or elliptical machine. Go to any gym in America and you’ll find that between 30-50% of the floor is dedicated to cardio equipment. We have all been led to believe that longer is better, and that keeping your heart rate and intensity low will keep you in the “fat burning zone.”

What science has now proven is that not only is this type of exercise inferior to short duration high intensity exercise, such as surge training, but that it can actually negatively affect your health. Conventional cardio training has been shown to increase cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, which in turn decreases human growth hormone and testosterone – the two most important hormones your body uses to boost metabolism and increase lean muscle. Low intensity long duration exercise also increases inflammation, increases fat stores in the abdomen and upper thighs, and if done regularly can cause muscle wasting. 

Our bodies weren’t originally designed to endure long periods of low to moderate physical stress. If we think about our ancestors we will remember that they primarily focused on hunting food or running away from predators. Both of which required short bursts of high intensity energy (they either killed it or got killed!). Therefore, our bodies respond best physiologically and structurally to high intensity short duration exercise, otherwise known now as surge or burst training. In fact, research has proven that surge training not only suppresses cortisol and increases testosterone and human growth hormone, but also improves immune function, fat burning, bone density, and joint strength.

The beauty of surge training is that you don’t need any equipment or a degree in exercise physiology to get started. All you need is your body weight and a watch. You can utilize traditional exercise movements such as push-ups or squats using variations to accommodate your fitness level, or you can add more functional movements to the dynamic of your exercise routine to duplicate a movement you might perform in real life. An example would be a burpee, which is a push up to a squat jump. 

To find out more about surge training, go to, visit, or ask your local Maximized Living doctor.