– Where did treadmills begin?

The forerunner of exercise treadmills was designed to diagnose heart and lung disease. The first was invented by Dr. Robert Bruce and Wayne Quinton at the University of Washington in 1952. Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s research on the benefits of aerobic exercise was published in 1968. His research provided a medical argument to support the commercial development of the home treadmill.

  • ˈtrɛdmɪl
  • A large wheel turned by the weight of people or animals treading on steps fitted into its inner surface, formerly used to drive machinery.
  • A device used for exercise, consisting of a continuous moving belt on which to walk or run.
  • A job or situation that is tiring or boring and from which it is hard to escape.

Among the users of treadmills, today are medical facilities including:
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Medical and physiotherapy clinics
  • Institutes of higher education)
  • Sports clubs
  • Biomechanics Institute
  • Orthopedic shoe shops
  • Running shops
  • Olympic training centres
  • Universities
  • Fire-training centers
  • NASA
  • Test facilities and training rooms of police and army
  • Gyms and even home users.

For athletes, larger and more stable treadmills are necessary. Sprinters reach with some weight relief temporarily speeds of up to 45 km/h must therefore run on a large deck of up to 300 cm in length and have up to 100 cm width.

At high physical exertion and increased risk of falling a fall stop unit is required to prevent a fall of the subjects or patients. This fall stop device is usually implemented by a safety arch on which a rope is attached to an electrical switch. A harness bears the subject preventing from falling and shuts down the running belt.

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Most treadmills have a “cardio mode”, where a target heart rate is defined and the speed and elevation (load) is controlled automatically until the subject is in “heart rate steady state”. So the treadmill is delivering mechanical energy to the human body based on the vital function (heart rate) of the subject. A medical treadmill which is also used for ergometry and cardiopulmonary stress test, as well as performance diagnostics, is always a class IIb medical device either when used as a stand-alone device in a medical environment or when used in connection with an ECG, EMG, ergospirometry, or blood pressure monitoring device.