The Reasons why Treadmills have Handles is for Safety
The rails/handles are there for people like yourself who lose balance and/or
have trouble running in a straight line for various reasons.
In your case losing balance on a treadmill can make not holding on a dangerous
proposition. You may want to start off not holding the handles on the
treadmill to help develop your balance so eventually you can do it w/out holding
You also probably want to attach the emergency stop cord to your shorts/shirt so
if you do lose balance you will not get thrown off the back of the treadmill.
The Reason why
Personal Trainers do not Want their Clients Holding Treadmill Handles
In order to get results in any aerobic exercise program it
is crucial to increase intensity (sustained heart rate) over time.
Treadmills have 2 different ways to increase intensity.
You can 1. increase the speed and 2. increase the incline.
Holding on the handles will reduce the intensity of the
It will slightly reduce the effect of increasing speed but
significantly reduce or nullify the effect of incline.
Just using the handles for balance is one thing, but you
will more than likely (like the majority of people) hold on for dear life,
leaning back supporting your weight.
It is just like climbing up a hill by using a rope like in
the picture which is the reason why trainers don't like their clients holding
on. It could start as just supporting the weight for balance then progress
as the client is trying to increase intensity levels which they're not ready for
simply for beating the machine.
Holding on the handles will also effect the information
provided by the machine such as calories burned.
If your safety is in question, hold on the the handles as
needed. Use the safety strap so you don't get seriously injured. Try
to hold the handles lifhgtly using them for balance rather than support.
Do not set a high incline, hang on the handles and lean
back as it defeats the purpose of the exercise.
More Information about Fitness Equipment, Cardio Machines
and Exercise in General