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Using a treadmill for running at home can be a convenient way for people to maintain and improve their fitness.
Treadmills offer some benefits compared with running outdoors, but there are also some potential safety issues that people should bear in mind.
This article provides tips on using a treadmill for running and discusses the best products to consider, the health benefits and risks, and alternative fitness equipment.
The best way for a person to get the full benefits of a treadmill is to establish a fitness routine that suits their lifestyle.
A person can first consider why they are purchasing a treadmill and what they want to accomplish. Someone who wants to use a treadmill to train for races through the off-season will have different needs than someone who wants a treadmill to help them become more active.
People can get the most out of a treadmill by:
- planning and setting goals for the duration and level of exertion of each workout
- warming up carefully by walking slowly for several minutes and increasing the intensity gradually to see how the treadmill works at different speeds
- raising and lowering the incline slowly
- keeping treadmill workouts interesting by doing a mix of steady runs, intervals, hill training, and tempo runs
- increasing the difficulty of workouts gradually over time
- tracking the level of exertion with monitors or by observing the breath
- cooling down with slow walking for 5–10 minutes at the end of each session
- making sure that the machine will stop if the user stumbles or falls by clipping the safety key onto their clothing
Can treadmills allow you to do more than running?
People can incorporate strength training into treadmill workouts by using hand weights, resistance bands, or their own body weight.
For example, they can stop the treadmill, step off, and do one set of strength-training exercises before stepping back on and running again for a brief period. They can repeat this cycle throughout the workout.
People looking to do a whole body workout can perform a different exercise each time they step off the treadmill to target a different muscle group.
Factors a person may wish to consider when choosing a treadmill include:
- Speed: Some people may require a treadmill with a higher speed level.
- Noise level: Some treadmills are created with quieter engines to reduce background noise.
- Incline level: Depending on the training type, a higher incline level may be beneficial. For example, if a person wanted to work harder on their glutes or increase endurance levels.
- Storage capacity: Some treadmills are foldable for easier storage.
- Weight capacity: A person should ensure the maximum weight capacity is suitable for them.
Many different treadmills are available to purchase for use in the home. Below, we look at four of the best options.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best for lower budgets: Horizon T101 Treadmill
|Con||company does not provide classes|
|Running area||20 x 55 inches (in)|
|Speed range||0.5–10 miles per hour (mph)|
|Max weight capacity||300 pounds (lb)|
Horizon Fitness claims this product will suit those seeking a treadmill with fewer features and a lower price tag.
Designed for quick folding and easy storage, this treadmill is straightforward to set up and use. It has a cushioned deck to support running and walking.
A Bluetooth connection, integrated speakers, rapid-charge USB port, and device holder help people stay connected during workouts. It comes with a lifetime frame and motor warranty.
Best for a variety of incline levels: Sole F63 Treadmill
|Pro||30-day studio trial included|
|Con||may be costly|
|Running area||20 x 60 in|
|Speed range||0.5–12 mph|
|Incline range||0–15 levels|
|Max weight capacity||325 lb|
The 3.0 HP engine allows this treadmill to reach speeds of up to 12 mph. It also has six preset program options.
This treadmill comes with built-in speakers to accommodate music players. It also has cooling fans and a user-friendly display, providing personal running statistics.
The frame and motor come with lifetime warranties, while the deck, electronics, and parts each have a 3-year warranty. There is also a 1-year labor warranty.
Best for 1-year JRNY membership: Bowflex Treadmill 22
|Pro||large running area|
|Con||not suitable for lower budgets|
|Running area||22 x 60 in|
|Speed range||0–12 mph|
|Max weight capacity||400 lb|
This product comes with extended handlebars for steep inclines, heart rate sensors on the handgrips, a 22-in console, and an adjustable touch screen.
Bowflex also provides a free 1-year JRNY membership that lets users participate in online coaching through personalized workouts.
Best for free 90-day returns: Nautilus T618
|Pro||26 workout programs|
|Con||speed range not specified|
|Running area||20 x 60 in|
|Speed range||not specified|
|Max weight capacity||350 lb|
This treadmill offers 26 workout programs and a Bluetooth connection. It also includes tracking tools for personalized progress.
Included is the Explore the World app that lets people run together in real-time on different courses across the globe.
It has a quiet motor even at full running speed.
The Nautilus T618 comes with a 15-year warranty for the frame and drive motor, a 5-year warranty for the mechanical and electronic parts, and a 2-year labor warranty.
The table below compares the treadmills detailed above.
A treadmill gives people the ability to walk or run when it suits their schedule, regardless of the time of day or the weather. This convenience and flexibility make it easier for a person to maintain or improve their fitness level.
Treadmills offer numerous potential benefits, including:
- targeting key muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
- giving people the ability to adapt the speed and level of incline to suit their fitness levels
- providing support in the form of handrails for people recovering from injuries
- providing an even running surface, which reduces the risk of stumbling or tripping in comparison with running outdoors
The risks of using treadmills for running come from the combined hazards of running in general and using a treadmill. Potential risks include:
- poor posture due to holding onto the handrails
- altered running gait
- stumbling on the machine or belt
- breakdown of equipment over time
- joint pain
- sore feet and calves
- injuries from falls or incorrect use of the equipment
People with concerns about using a treadmill for running due to health conditions should speak with a doctor.
Treadmills are a popular type of home gym equipment, but there are other options, such as:
- Stationary bicycles: Stationary bicycles tend to be less expensive than other forms of home workout equipment, although high-end models with online connections can have higher price points. People may find it easier to use a device while exercising on a stationary bike. Learn about the best exercise bikes here.
- Rowing machines: Indoor rowing machines provide a workout for the legs, core, back, and arms. Using an indoor rowing machine can also help people improve their posture and flexibility. To get the most benefit from a rowing machine, the user must be sure to use proper form. Learn about the best rowing machines here.
- Elliptical trainers: These provide a low impact aerobic workout, which means they do not cause wear and tear on joints in the way that running or walking can. Many of these machines can work both the upper and lower body. Learn more about the best elliptical machines here.
Below are some of the most common questions and answers about treadmills for running.
What is the best overall treadmill for running?
This depends on individual needs.
Some people may prefer a higher incline setting or a larger running area, while others may require a higher weight capacity or maximum speed.
A person should conduct further research before purchasing a treadmill.
Are treadmills good for runners?
Treadmills can be a great training tool for runners. The belt provides an even surface, handrails provide support, and a person can easily adjust the incline.
However, people may sustain injuries from using a treadmill incorrectly or worsen their posture from using the handrails too much.
A person may wish to speak to a doctor about exercising safely.
What should I consider before purchasing a treadmill?
A person should consider factors such as:
- speed range
- incline level
- weight capacity
- noise level
- storage capacity
What size treadmill do I need for running?
A treadmill for running should have a minimum belt length of 55 in. However, a taller person may find a treadmill with a longer belt length more suitable.
Being physically active is essential for health. Purchasing a treadmill for home use can help people exercise when it suits them.
A range of treadmills is available for home use. People should decide how they plan to work out before purchasing to determine what features are important to them. Treadmills with more features are likely to have higher price tags.