The history of the treadmill is rather convoluted. The first treadmill was created in 1818 for the prison population to create energy to accomplish tasks. James Hardie wrote in his 1824 book History of the Treadmill that "It was ennui, stemming from the treadmill’s “monotonous steadiness and not its severity, which constitutes its terror.” The boredom of walking and not traveling was only ok for animals and prisoners then.

A mechanical engineer named Bill Staub wanted to bring the convenience of simple running indoors. He built a treadmill named the "PaceMaster" and sold it for $399 in the late 1960s (which is about $2,800 in today’s dollars).

Through these last 5 decades. most home treadmills are bought with good intentions yet often sit unused. This "treadmill disuse syndrome" is fairly common.  Many second hand treadmills are in "like new" condition.

Why? Perhaps we still think that this form of exercise is too boring. Maybe we just can't find the time in our busy lives.  While certain meditators might be able to get through an exercise session without distraction, most of us want to keep our minds busy. We now have multiple forms of entertainment available to us while we walk or run on a moving belt. We can learn, laugh or wander with a podcast or video while we get our exercise.

I suggest that if you make the investment to buy a treadmill, do your best to develop a habit of walking while watching interesting, peaceful videos, like the ones found here. It could be a good break in your day.

Here is a link to the NY Times article by Dan Koepel from July 11, 2019. It has a lot of interesting trivia.  The Tortuous History of the Treadmill

drawing of men on old treadmill