Feel the experience of running outdoors on a threadmill
Feel The Experience Of Running Outdoors On A Threadmill. A team of researchers have developed a new treadmill that automatically changes speed to match the pace of the runner.
Washington: A team of researchers have developed a new treadmill that automatically changes speed to match the pace of the runner.
Steven T. Devor, associate professor of kinesiology at the Ohio State University, said that the result is a treadmill experience that is much closer to walking or running outdoors.
The automated treadmill uses sonar to tell exactly where the runner is on the treadmill. If the runner picks up pace and moves toward the front of the running belt, the speed automatically increases. If the runner slows down and moves toward the back, the speed decreases.
Devor said the device is a finished prototype in his lab and is nearly ready for commercialization and as an incentive for a fitness equipment manufacturer to make the investment necessary to turn the automated treadmill into a product ready for use at fitness clubs, Ohio State recently filed a patent application covering the treadmill's novel features.
The researchers developed the new setup using off-the-shelf products where they started with an inexpensive sonar range finder, which is used to measure the distance between an object and the sonar device. They attached it to a microcontroller and a computer, which was linked to the electronics in the treadmill.
When the runner is in the middle of the running belt (measured from front to back), the speed of the treadmill stays the same. If the sonar senses that the runner is moving farther away, that means the runner is picking up speed and the sonar microcontroller sends a signal to the treadmill to speed up the belt in varying increments of speed. The speed increases until the runner returns to the middle of the belt.
Most elite athletes and increasingly many regular exercisers have had their aerobic capacity measured through maximal oxygen consumption (or VO2 max) tests.
These tests, often done on treadmills, measure the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use and the tests involve athletes pushing themselves to exhaustion in a treadmill test while wearing a mask that measures oxygen use.
In this study, the researchers had 13 experienced endurance runners take a VO2 max test using both a standard treadmill and the automated treadmill. Results showed that the athletes improved their VO2 max scores by 4 to 7 percent using the automated treadmill.
The study is published online in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.