Health Benefits of Treadmill Exercise

There are almost countless health benefits to regular exercise, including heart strength, weight loss, and decreased insulin resistance. Walking or running on a treadmill is an excellent source of exercise that puts less stress on the body than walking or running on a flat surface outdoors. Treadmills also offer the option for careful heart rate and blood pressure monitoring for patients suffering from those issues. This information helps patients determine how much exercise they handle and when to stop. Here are just some of the important health benefits of exercising on the treadmill.

The Six Wonderful Health Benefits of a Treadmill

Heart Benefits

Treadmills are very useful in the diagnosis of heart disease, coronary artery blockages, and other cardiac issues. The body may not show symptoms of heart disease or blockage until it is put under stress, and using a treadmill is an effective way to put a body under stress while closely monitoring the patient’s vital signs. Treadmill tests are often performed on patients who are not currently experiencing symptoms of heart problems, but show risk factors such as high cholesterol.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that women and men that have inconclusive or abnormal treadmill test results are at least twice as likely to die from heart disease as people whose test results are normal. It’s possible for exercise stress tests performed on a treadmill to show a false positive result, so these test should always be follow up with others such as:

  • Echo Stress Test: An exercise stress test that uses an echocardiogram to measure the heart function.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: The insertion of a catheter into a specific chamber, vessel, or artery of the heart to spot a blockage or determine the severity of heart disease.
  • Nuclear Stress Test: Uses a tiny dose of a radioactive solution to evaluate heart function and blood flow to the heart.

Regular aerobic exercise, such as a treadmill workout regimen, improves blood circulation in the body and helps to lower blood pressure by strengthening the heart. Aerobic exercise also helps to protect against blood vessel disease and heart disease by lowering low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and raising levels of high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). Anyone with heart issues should talk to their doctor before starting any exercise program to ensure that they don’t put too much stress on their body or interfere with their medications.

Benefits to Diabetics

Treadmills are an ideal way to encourage people to exercise regularly, and regular exercise is a very important factor in controlling insulin levels in type 2 diabetics. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry regular exercise decreases blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. The combination of diet and exercise is the best way to control diabetes symptoms in patients that are not insulin dependent. Each patient should consult their doctor before starting their exercise routine because exercise that is too intense can actually raise blood sugar levels.

Exercising for less than 20 minutes at a time usually causes the liver to release stored glucose for fuel, but a session of at least 20 minutes is more beneficial because it causes the muscles to take in glucose for fuel and lowers overall blood glucose levels. Using a treadmill for regular exercise often allows patients to lower their blood glucose levels enough that their medication levels can be adjusted or eliminated. Working out regularly also helps to regulate the hormones that induce sleep and facilitates better sleep. Regular sleep cycles are another factor that keeps blood sugar levels stable.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercising regularly is a great way to keep the body in good shape and decrease levels of disease. The heart is the most important muscle in the body and it needs exercise to stay in top shape. Treadmills are the best exercise machines for people starting their fitness journey because they are easy to use and put less stress on the body than many types of workouts. Most experts recommend that people exercise at least five days per week, for 20-60 minutes. A feat easily accomplished with a treadmill.

Helpful tips for running on a treadmill

When using the treadmill for the first time, ensure that you have gone through the user guide carefully. Feel free to ask the gym instructor where you do not understand.

Let them help you with the necessary machine adjustments, at least until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.

Always ensure that your workouts begin from slow, gradually rising to your optimum levels for the best results.

This way, you’ll be preparing the body muscles for a more intense activity without causing harm.

All forms of exercising, regardless of how mild they are, require careful planning. It is of paramount importance to discuss with your doctor before starting a workout plan.

Not to say it is illegal, but people have been diagnosed with acute complications that can be triggered by activity of the body.

Combine a good workout with a good meal

What we eat determines what the body takes in. For purposes of calorie burning, avoid those foods that are rich in calories as they will make things tougher on your part.

The reason you set out to hit the gym is to attain and maintain health and fitness, therefore, be very keen on your diet.

A professional nutritionist can be very helpful determining your diet over the period you’re working out.

Never ever skip meals

The habit of skipping meals in the name of wanting to lose weight should not be entertained whatsoever.

Your body requires high levels of energy during workout, and missing meals sets the stage for low calorie burning, and worse still; storage of extra fat in the body.

Always go one better

Sensible exercising is whereby you move a step higher than your previous mark.

The treadmill is just the perfect trainer because it has been customized to allow you watch your progress through an inbuilt monitor.

The ability to monitor your heart rate makes it possible to see how healthy or unhealthy you are, and what you need to do regarding the same.

The treadmill or road running?

It won’t be easy discussing which is better between running on a treadmill and road running, but there is no denying the fact that both provide a fantastic platform for weight loss and general fitness.

Each option, besides helping in natural weight loss, has unique advantages that can be said to be circumstantial.

For example, the treadmill is all about convenience due to the fact that workouts are never interrupted by bad weather.

The ability to monitor daily progress from the stat-save option is another factor that would make treadmills rank higher.

Road running on the other hand is free and can take place anywhere, anytime.

It is also more intense and therefore unbeatable in terms of calories burnt over a given period of active training.

Essentially, the treadmill has captured real life situations through innovative mechanism. Inclines are supposed to create hills and flat terrains for purposes of varying the running terrain, and increasing or lowering intensity.

Given how busy people have become, running on a treadmill can save the day because it can be done anytime without fear of getting attacked while running on the fields.

Anyone can do it provided they understand their schedules perfectly. Most importantly, people recovering from injuries can train with the treadmill comfortably.

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When the outdoor training conditions are not that nice, running on a treadmill is a great alternative. Although some athletes will find it quite boring, it brings significant advantages that we will explain to you below.

Running on a treadmill: what is it like?

Training on a conveyor belt that moves under your feet may unsettle some runners. Unlike running outside, adapting your stride is vital. The absence of horizontal movement requires athletes to put their feet down more quickly on the deck. As a result, the propulsion phase is decreased. This unnatural movement can modify how your muscles work: on a treadmill, your hamstrings aren’t used very much. On the other hand, your hip flexors (iliopsoas) compensate for this action by working harder.

Running on a treadmill: 6 good reasons to get started

  • This easy-to-use piece of equipment can be very helpful as an addition to or replacement for your outdoor sessions. There is always a good reason to run, even if the running is a bit different!
  • A treadmill helps you to reproduce a movement that is similar to running, as well as giving you a similar cardiovascular workout.
  • The console lets you track lots of different internal and external parameters: heart rate, calories, speed, time, distance, etc.
  • Training on a treadmill will help you to maintain a steady pace and get a good aerobic workout.
  • Lots of treadmills offer a variety of training programmes. Simply do as it suggests in order to achieve your running objectives.
  • Running on a treadmill avoids the inconveniences of running outdoors: bad weather, darkness, traffic, lack of safety, etc.
  • And unlike tarmac, the impact on a running deck is quite gentle. It provides cushioning that protects your joints.

Typical treadmill training programme

In order to boost your endurance, here is a treadmill session that you can do at least twice per week.

The basic structure of a 40- to 60-minute session

  • 10-15 mins: warm up with a fast walk or a light jog
  • 25-35 mins: training session at a regular pace (roughly 70% of your maximum heart rate)
  • 5-10 mins: cool down with a fast walk or a light jog


  • Progressively prolong the length of the main training session to increase the total time
  • Shorten the warm-up phase to 5-10 mins
  • Increase your running speed
  • Use the interval method during the training session: Alternate 6-12 blocks of 30 to 60 seconds by varying the running speed (walk or jog / run or sprint = faster than your usual running speed)
  • Progressively increase the number of blocks

These variations will help your body to boost its endurance little by little and let you gradually extend the amount of time you exercise for.

Regular breathing

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth The inhalation and exhalation should last the same amount of time. If you get a stitch, exhale for longer.

Safety tips

Position yourself in the centre between the treadmill’s arms. Remember to run on the balls of your feet so that you absorb the shockwave and prevent knee and back pain. Imagine you are “stroking” the ground in order to push your hips forward. Unlike walking, never put your heel down. Drink small mouthfuls regularly every 10-15 minutes.

As much as treadmills have a stigma (we’ve all heard the dreadmill jokes), there really is a time and a place for one in every person’s routine. Whether you’re a veteran runner or you just want to start a fitness program by walking on a treadmill, this indoor running machine definitely has its benefits. And with temperatures dropping, treadmills offer a safe, convenient way to get in a workout even when it’s dark, rainy, or snowy.

Plus, treadmills are tricked out these days, with some offering live or on-demand run and walk programs streamed straight into the console, television programming including YouTube and Netflix, virtual running routes, music, and more—which can help make the miles roll by.

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Running or walking on a treadmill isn’t exactly like running outside. After all, the belt keeps you on pace even when your energy fades. But it’s a good alternative to exercising outdoors when you have to stay indoors.

Beginner Treadmill Tips

Whether you are running or walking on a treadmill, here is a basic intro so you can make the most out of your time.

The 4 Best New Treadmills

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Woodway 4Front

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NordicTrack C 990

Virtual courses on a budget


Landice L8 Cardio

The quietest treadmill we’ve tested


Time it right.

Find a gym or studio with hours that fit your schedule. Before you sign up, learn when the busiest times are. If you can, avoid those peak hours; you’ll be more likely to find a free treadmill.

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Watch your step.

While the cushioned surface often helps prevent injuries, some people report aches and pains after putting in extra time on the treadmill. Be sure to run at a pace you can comfortably sustain. As you tire, lower your speed or incline to switch it up throughout your session.

Just let go.

If you can’t keep up with the treadmill without grabbing the handrails, you’re going too fast. Holding onto the handrails can throw off your stride and create a twisting motion, which can lead to injuries. Even if you’re just walking, you want to find a pace and incline that you can sustain comfortably without holding on so you can use your arms to pump through the workout.

Get outside…carefully.

If you’ve done 100 percent of your workouts on a treadmill, you can gradually integrate outdoor running into your routine. Too quick of a transition can lead to injury.

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Outside, your calf muscles have to work harder to propel you forward; so do the smaller stabilizer muscles in the joints and ankles. On your first outside run, start with 10 minutes, and add five minutes the next week. Continue to build gradually, increasing your total weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent each week.

Know your numbers.

The “calories burned” readouts on treadmills—and any other exercise machine for that matter—are rarely accurate. That’s because most treadmills estimate total calories burned rather than the net number—i.e., calories burned solely through exercise.

Plus, keep in mind that most machines don’t account for body-fat percentage, gender, age, resting heart rate, or whether you’re holding onto the rails. But you don’t have to totally ignore the machine’s stats. Use the calorie readout as a loose gauge of your progress. If the calorie readout goes up from one session to the next for the same workout, you know you’re getting fitter.

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Decipher the pacing info.

How fast or slow are you going? Many treadmills show pace as miles-per-hour (mph), but most runners prefer a minutes-per-mile pace.

Here’s a cheat sheet so you can find your minutes-per-mile pace, more commonly used by runners.

Mix it up.

In order to build your overall fitness, it’s a good idea to do faster workouts with no incline as well as slower-paced workouts with an incline.

The slower uphill workouts build strength, while the faster flat workouts help you develop stamina, endurance, and quick footwork. Adjust both speed and incline during your workout, and you can better simulate the changing terrain of a road run.

8 Tips for Running Long Distance on a Treadmill

If your goals this year include finally checking that half-marathon or marathon off of your bucket list, here’s your friendly reminder from Aaptiv that—ahem—it’s time to get moving. Running long distances requires a heightened dedication to training.

Depending on your location and the season, you might be stuck collecting those KGs indoors on a treadmill. Anyone who’s done it knows that tackling long distance on a treadmill can get boring quick, but it’s an ideal alternative if you can’t make it outside. “The treadmill is a great way to get in your miles when you live in a city with harsh winters,” says multi-marathoner Stephanie Quach. “You don’t have to worry about frostbite or slipping on black ice. The treadmill is a lot safer.”

Aaptiv has trainers that can guide you along in your training every step of the way. Our marathon classes are in app now!

We asked runner experts and marathoners how they go the distance on a treadmill. Keep reading to find out how to keep up stamina and avoid boredom.

Go during off hours—and cover the ‘stop’ button.

The treadmill can get boring fast. Running outside comes with scenery changes, fresh air, and space. The treadmill comes with a television (maybe) and crowds. As Quach says, the downfall of a treadmill is how easy it is to tune out and not focus on the fitness task at hand. Plus, the dreaded stop button makes it all too tempting to hop off when boredom sets in or when people start to give side-eye because of how long you’re using the machine. Quach suggests going during less busy times. She also recommends bringing a towel to cover up the temptation to ‘pause’ because you’re a little tired (or bored).

Show up with a plan.

While running outside for a few hours on a Saturday can be enough of a preparation in the early stages of long-distance training, when you’re taking those miles indoors, marathoner and Founder of GreenBlender Jenna Tanenbaum says that it’s smarter to have a game plan from the moment you check-in to your gym.

“I always like to have a plan, either written down or an Aaptiv running class pre-selected and ready to go. That way, you have already mentally committed to your treadmill workout before you even lace up your sneakers,” she says. “If you already have your workout outlined, it will be much harder to call it quits before you hit start.”

Try four minutes on, one minute off.

You’ll need to have many steady-pace training days to prepare for a half or a full marathon. But former ultramarathoner and personal trainer Tanner Spees says it’s also important to educate your body to pace itself. He explains that many new runners get into a rhythm where they feel like they can ‘go forever.’ Then, they end up walking for a mile on race day. One way to prevent this disappointment is using the tempo method, featuring four-minutes on, one-minute off strategy. During those four minutes, you run as fast as you can. Then for one, you walk or jog comfortably. “This teaches you to take breaks, even when you don’t think you need them. reminds you that rest is a necessary part of training,” he adds. How long do you do this? For as long as you can, but at least thirty minutes to prove effective.

Get comfortable.

Because running on a tread doesn’t mimic the experience of different terrains, which helps you to perfect your form, eight-time marathon runner and high school cross-country coach Sarah Pisano suggests paying extra attention to where you are on the belt and your posture. Especially when it comes to your placement near the screen. “Don’t run too close to the console. Make sure you give yourself some space from the front of the treadmill. I find I run with my wrists up way too high when I run on the treadmill to prevent myself from hitting the front console. This causes a lot of tension in my upper body and isn’t something that translates well to an outdoor race,” she shares. After all, the more comfortable you are, the longer you will run.

Increase and decrease your speed and incline.

When you’re outside, your lungs naturally adapt to conditions, including incline and air quality. Indoors, it’s up to you to create that resistance. That’s why marathoner and personal trainer Alli Felsenthal suggests varying your pace and your grade during long runs. “This will help to work your endurance and VO2 levels/oxygen intake available to use while running. This will also help to increase a runner’s ability to maintain throughout the run without feeling the need to stop,” she shares.

Break it up with other workouts.

Long-distance running isn’t just about running and running and running… and running. Rather, it’s about preparing your body for that hour—or hours—of trotting on race day. It’s important to build your other muscle groups to reduce the chance of injury, and frankly, as Quach says, to break up training days. “Keep it interesting by incorporating a few high-intensity-interval sessions during the run, as well as a few hills,” she suggests. You could also run for an hour, take a class or complete an Aaptiv program. Then run for another hour, to prevent stagnation.

Use music to motivate you.

Whether you need to focus on meeting a deadline at work, building your energy for a night out, or nursing your emotions during a breakup, music has a way of shifting your spirits. Quach says an upbeat playlist inspires her motivation and keeps her moving on a treadmill. She also uses it as a way to prevent herself from taking breaks when she feels like tossing in the towel. “Perhaps you wanted to listen to your favorite singer’s new album. Do not allow yourself to stop running until you have listened to all the songs,” she suggests.

Try audiobooks.

If you’ve never trained for a distance past six miles, you might not know how you’ll feel once you teeter over 60 minutes of running. Music could work for a while. But, you might also start to hate the sound of it as you pound the pavement —or the belt. For longer training days, Tanenbaum turns to audiobooks. “If you’re planning on doing a long, slow run on the treadmill, don’t be afraid to distract yourself with a good book,” she shares. Her go-to’s are inspirational fitness autobiographies. These include A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

If you have to run a long distance on a treadmill, don’t fret.

Come prepared and focus on your form, changing up your workout, or the music in your ears to keep you pushing forward. Luckily, Aaptiv can help you with all of that. Sign up here!

What Do You Need to Know Before You Start Running on the Treadmill?

One of the problems with being a runner during the winter time is that it is often unsafe to run outside.

Slippery roads, snow covered trails, and limited hours of daylight often force us inside to the treadmill for our easy days, long runs and workouts.

New to running and intimidated by the ’mill?

No worries, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the basics of how to use a treadmill for indoor running during these cold winter months, unbearable humid summer stretches, or any time running outside is not an option. What are the most important things to keep in mind for a beginner when running?

Let’s find out.

How to Run on a Treadmill

Whether you have just purchased the best state-of-the-art proform treadmill, nordictrack treadmill, or even just need to know how to use a treadmill at the gym, if you want to start running to lose weight or have a running goal you want to accomplish, the treadmill can be very intimidating.

In case you’ve never hopped on a treadmill before, and don’t even know how to turn on a treadmill (and are picturing the escalator scene in Elf), here are the basics.

The best way to start out is to stand on the belt and press the “start workout” or “quick workout” button.

Most treadmills will give you a 3…2…1… countdown before the belt begins to move.

You might be wondering:

What is a good speed for a beginner to run on a treadmill?

That is up to you.

The belt will start at a very slow walking pace, and it will be up to you to use the pace arrows to speed up to a treadmill pace that feels comfortable for you as you gain confidence on the treadmill.

Your treadmill might ask you to enter some details about your weight, age, and goal. This is optional, and most calorie counters on the treadmills are not very accurate, but if you wish to track your workout, adding these in will give you a better indication.

Make sure you have the treadmill set to your preferred training splits (miles/kilometers) and if you need help, a gym employee is the right person to ask rather than trying to guess with the buttons, better safe than sorry!

What Incline Should I Use on My Treadmill?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that treadmill running does not translate directly to outdoor running.

In order to compensate for the lack of wind resistance, set the treadmill on a 1% incline.

Most treadmills today have an incline option, and many even have a decline option, which is helpful if you are in Boston Marathon Training and need to be creative to practice downhills for race day.

However, feel free to play with this throughout the run, especially on easy days.

Consider this:

A lot of treadmills have preset programs that will adjust your incline automatically to simulate a specific hill pattern.

This can be a fun way to keep an easy run or a long run interesting.

However, playing with the incline is something you should notify your coach about.

Let’s say you are training for a long, flat race like the Chicago Marathon.

It is a good idea to get in long runs that are long and flat to simulate the muscle firing patterns and subsequent fatigue that results from running sustained, flat terrain so that your body can grow accustomed to that and there will be no surprises on race day.

However, let’s say you are training for a race like the Boston Marathon which has massive portions of downhill running.

Finding a treadmill with a decline option can be an invaluable resource, allowing your body (particularly those quads!) to adjust to the long pounding of running downhill.

This is a tool many runners utilize even when outdoor running is available so look around for a gym near you that has a treadmill with a decline option!

How to Run Treadmill Workouts

Many athletes wonder if their “on land” speed sessions can translate to the treadmill, and in most cases, the answer is YES!

What needs to be taken into consideration usually is the type of rest required for the workout.

For instance, in a workout like a basic tempo run, where an athlete runs hard for an extended number of miles (usually 3-12) with no rest in between.

It is easy to convert to a treadmill session where they simply set the treadmill at the desired pace and run until the workout is over.

For a more complicated workout, like 400 meter repeats, it is important to take the rest periods into account.

When a workout calls for standing or walking rest, it is important to figure out a game plan before you hit the treadmill.

Ramping up into a fast pace as well as slowing back down to a walking pace takes far longer on a treadmill than it does outdoors.

When a workout calls for standing or walking rest, here is the “scary” part:

How to get off a treadmill mid workout.

The best option is to simply place your hands on the hand grip of a treadmill to stabilize yourself when you reach the end of the interval, lift your body weight off the treadmill, and onto your arms, then lower your body weight onto the sides of the treadmill, while you manually push the button to slow down the treadmill, only stepping back on when the belt has returned to a very slow pace.

When ramping back up, give yourself plenty of time (20-30 seconds) before hitting your watch for the interval as the belt will not go from 0 to 60 with the snap of a finger, it takes time for the pace to ramp up safely.

Once the treadmill speed is at the pace you are comfortable with for your interval, put your arms back on the sides of the treadmill, lift your body weight up, and begin the running motion at a speed that will match the belt, and slowly lower your body down onto the belt, removing the weight from your arms as you feel comfortable.

It might seem awkward and uncomfortable at first, but you will get the hang of it pretty quick.

The treadmill is a great option for tempo and cutdown runs especially where pace control is crucial, but it is also important to be outside for these runs whenever possible, as we don’t want to become dependent on the treadmill to run our paces perfectly.

After all, we race outside, not on the treadmill!

How to Not be Bored on a Treadmill

The reason that most runners hate the treadmill (and may refer to it as the “dreadmill”) is because it can be a serious mental challenge to stare at the same wall or set of exercise equipment during the entire run.

Music or podcasts can be an invaluable tool to utilize during the long winter treadmill miles.

Many gym treadmills have a television option so find a channel you like and enjoy!

If you are more of a purist and prefer running unplugged, that’s fine too.

One feature that gyms with top of the line treadmills offer is a run simulation, where the runner can select a venue and virtually run trails and streets in beautiful locations!

Some of these simulations can be quite helpful, such as treadmills that offer a run down the city streets of Chicago, perfect for those training for the marathon who want a little taste of the final few miles.

Need something fun to listen to and be inspired by if motivation is lacking?

We of course recommend the Run to the Top podcast, and would recommend starting with this episode with Dick Beardsley.

Treadmill Safety Guidelines

As with any piece of complicated exercise equipment, safety is an important thing to keep in mind.

If you are nervous about using the treadmill, consider this:

Most treadmills feature a safety harness, which is a small clip that should be securely attached to your clothing when you begin running.

The clip is attached to a long string that attaches to the treadmill itself, and just in case a runner passes out or falls off the treadmill for any reason, when the string tugs hard enough, the treadmill will stop immediately, preventing further injury.

Hydration on the Treadmill

Make sure as well to bring plenty of water with you to the gym.

It can be easy to forget about hydration during the winter, but remember that most gyms are kept around 65 degrees and sweating on the treadmill is inevitable, so carry a full bottle with you and drink up!

Likewise, it can be easy to over dress when it is twenty degrees outside so make sure to have layers on that you can strip off as you warm up inside, though do be aware that many gyms have a dress code and shirtless/sports bra running is off limits.

Treadmills aren’t all bad!

Just make sure to prepare well and double check with your coach that running inside is a viable option for that day’s workout.

We live in an age that has seen many technological advances, particularly in the world of sport, so take advantage of this and give the ‘mill a chance!

RunnersConnect Insider Bonus

Download your FREE Treadmill Guide for Runners inside your Insider Members area.

The guide contains 4 treadmill specific workouts guaranteed to keep you sane and fit! You’ll learn about the In-N-Out workout, how to “run like an Egyptian” and get my favorite “green eggs and ham” workout.

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Running on the treadmill

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