The treadmill is a popular piece of exercise equipment; those who don’t like the treadmill have nicknamed it “dreadmill” (dread + treadmill). “Dreadmill” has been cited in print since at least 1984
A treadmill is a device for walking or running while staying in the same place. Treadmills were introduced before the development of powered machines, to harness the power of animals or humans to do work, often a type of mill that was operated by a person or animal treading steps of a treadwheel to grind grain. In later times treadmills were used as punishment devices for people sentenced to hard labour in prisons. The terms treadmill and treadwheel were used interchangeably for the power and punishment mechanisms.
More recently treadmills are not used to harness power, but as exercise machines for running or walking in one place. Rather than the user powering the mill, the machine provides a moving platform with a wide conveyor belt driven by an electric motor or a flywheel. The belt moves to the rear requiring the user to walk or run at a speed matching that of the belt. The rate at which the belt moves is the rate of walking or running. Thus, the speed of running may be controlled and measured. The more expensive, heavy-duty versions are motor-driven (usually by an electric motor). The simpler, lighter, and less expensive versions passively resist the motion, moving only when walkers push the belt with their feet. The latter are known as manual treadmills.
8 August 1984, Gettysburg (PA) Times, “The true-life drama of Dreadmill” by George Zucker (AP), pg. 26, col. 1:
Dr. Starck’s Dreadmill wasn’t a dreadful device.
Forget that it almost killed him. The Dreadmill was no relic from an old horror movie.
Staying Young Looking Great
By Michael Lafavore
Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press
By this time, a few weeks on the “dreadmill” isn’t going to evict the accumulated fat.
By Joy Fielding
New York, NY: Dell Publishing
There’s another room at the back where I keep my desk, my phone, my files, a small fridge, some stacking chairs, and a treadmill, or “dreadmill,” as I’ve come to refer to it.
Beat Self-Defeat and Win Your War with Weight
By Jeffrey Wilbert, Ph.D.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
Nowadays I don’t have a basketball court in my basement, so I have to make do with the treadmill, or “dreadmill,” as one client called it.
The conveyor belt to nowhere that one has to walk upon to keep their body in shape, or in times of neglect becomes a place for clutter collection…
Damn, I have to get off the computer now and walk on the cursed dreadmill...
by Carmelynn Cole December 29, 2006
The Ultimate Guide to Running Lingo
by Emily Faherty on April 2, 2014
Dreadmill: Treadmills get this pet name since they’re an often-loathed piece of gym equipment for runners forced indoors due to weather or time constraints. There’s at least one perk though: Studies show it’s actually easier to go faster on a treadmill than out on the road!
New York City • Exercise/Running/Health Clubs • Saturday, April 12, 2014 • Permalink