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Run on a level treadmill to keep your workout easy.
Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
What's moderate running on the treadmill is a personal matter. As MayoClinic.com explains, "What feels to you like a hard run can feel like an easy workout to someone who's more fit." This means that you can't simply rely on the speed displayed on the treadmill to gauge the intensity of your workout. Instead, you need to monitor your exertion and adjust your running accordingly.
Listen to Your Heart
Monitor your heart rate while you're on the treadmill to ensure that you're running at a moderate intensity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate-intensity exercise is any activity performed within 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example, if your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute, then your moderate range is 90 to 126 beats per minute. If you exceed this limit then you will be running at a vigorous intensity. You can estimate your heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
Check the Beat
Many treadmills have built-in heart rate monitors, making it easy to track the intensity of your workout. Some treadmills require you to grip the treadmill handle to take a periodic reading of your heart rate. Others have clips that attach to a finger or other body part, allowing you to monitor your heart rate continuously. Alternatively, you can use a heart rate monitoring watch with a chest band that monitors your heart rate for you.
If It Feels Good, Do It
As an alternative to monitoring your heart rate, you can simply rely on how running on the treadmill makes you feel. Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale that runs from six to 19, with six being very light exercise and 19 being very, very hard exercise. Moderate exercise should be in the range of 12 to 14 on this scale, meaning that it should feel fairly light or somewhat hard. If it feels hard, then it is too intense.
Own Your Zone
No matter how you monitor your intensity level, you need to make an active effort to stay in the moderate-intensity range. Running at a slow pace with the treadmill on a level setting -- without any incline -- will help keep your heart rate down. Setting the treadmill with an incline will increase the intensity of your workout and may cause you to exceed the moderate zone. To decrease the intensity you can switch to a decline or simply slow down, even taking a break from running to walk until your heart rate decreases.