Hello Claire, I'm no expert, but i expect any cardiovascular training must be a help, certainly better than not getting out frequently enough..... Using a Heart Rate Monitor could also be beneficial to gauge the change in effort, which could then be varied on different training days. As you say there's no like for like substitute for running but making the most of any cardio training is a starting point. I invested in a treadmill because I was worried about time i could devote to running. Although expensive it was well worth the outlay, especially when you look at the cost of Gym membership these days.
....Keep up the good work!
When you're walking your 6 miles do some or all of it "flat out", it will be about the same effort as a 60-70% heart rate run, I actually find it's easier to run very slowly than walk very fast?!
Claire, i'd say the trainer is worthwhile as long as you reach a decent heart-rate. Get a heart rate monitor (£30 off Amazon). I run once a week and easily reach 144-155 bpm. however on my exercise bike its hard work to reach 140 bpm because the bike is taking most of the weight and its only my legs doing any work.
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