Why exercising on a treadmill should be useless

The purpose of a treadmill is to help one exercise while having the convenience of running indoors, staying in one spot and not going in circles.

Feet on treadmills

People exercising on treadmills

Unfortunately, the math just doesn’t work out in favour of the exerciser.

According to physics,
W = F\Delta d, where:

  • W is the amount of work done on an object, in joules
  • F is the [net] force on an object, in newtons
  • \Delta d is the distance that the object has moved, in metres

For you to burn calories, W > 0.

On a treadmill, you are not covering any distance, so no matter how much force is applied, there is no work done because \Delta d = 0.

Even if you make the argument that we’re travelling millions of metres a second because the Earth, the Sun, and the Milky Way Galaxy are all moving, one could argue that while you’re on a treadmill, the net force on you is negligible. There is no work done because F = 0.

In both cases, W = 0, therefore no calories are burned, and yet despite all this, some people still find this an effective way to exercise. I don’t understand.

  1. Before any of you comment about how this is all wrong, please keep in mind the category under which this post is filed.

  2. Karman said:

    This is wrong! You should’ve remembered what Connor said!

    • I do remember what Connor said, but it was fun to write the post anyway!

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