FAQ: Treadmill Walking

Treadmills are perhaps the most popular kind of personal exercise equipment, and for good reason. They make it possible to work out at any time in any weather. You don't have to worry about finding a safe neighborhood to walk in, and you'll get a physical challenge regardless of your fitness level when you use a treadmill to walk.

When you're first starting to walk on your treadmill, you'll likely have a lot of questions about how to walk on a treadmill and the best way to maximize your exercise regime. You'll want to make sure to adjust your workout as your fitness improves. But it's even more important to start out safely and smartly. 

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about treadmill walking:

How long should you walk on a treadmill? 

If you are just beginning your walking habit, you should walk for a realistic, but challenging length of time. The goal is to create a schedule that you can consistently follow over time. If you pick a goal that is too difficult, you may not follow through. If it's too easy, you may get bored.

The federal government recommends that adults engage in at least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderately intense physical activity per week. This translates to a minimum of about 25 minutes of walking per day. You'll want to plan to walk at least three days every week, for a total of 150 minutes.

If you are more fit and want to power-walk or run, you can spend less time on the treadmill. Federal guidelines for vigorous intensity aerobic activity call for at least 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week. It's also possible and healthy to include both moderate and vigorous exercises on the treadmill spread throughout the week.

Of course, these recommendations are the minimum. You can receive greater benefits if you exceed these recommendations.

How fast should you walk on a treadmill? 

There aren't many people who can accurately estimate how many miles per hour their walking speed is. Yet that's exactly what you need to determine when setting up your home treadmill. 

In general, most people will walk around 2 to 4 mph at a leisurely pace. A very fast walk or jog is usually around 4 to 5 mph, while anything faster than 5 mph is considered running. 

To determine the best speed for your treadmill workout programming may take some experimentation. Start slowly and pay attention to your breathing. You should find that you are breathing at a faster, deeper rate than when stationary, but you should never be so winded that you have to stop entirely. 

Starting slowly is also better for safety. Never start walking on a treadmill when the belt is running at full speed. Instead, start with a walk and increase to a comfortable, yet challenging speed after you've warmed up.

Can you lose weight by walking on a treadmill? 

Absolutely! Thousands of people have found that walking on a treadmill allows them to burn more calories, which is a key component of weight loss. Remember, one pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories. Many treadmills have computers that allow you to input your weight and age to calculate calories burned. Throughout the week, the number of calories you burn can add up to an impressive loss.

To increase your heart rate and work up a sweat, try interval training on your treadmill. Track your heart rate so that it's around 135 beats per minute, perhaps while walking around 3 mph. Then increase your heart rate up to 150 beats per minute, increasing your speed to around 4.1 mph. Go at the faster speed for a minute or as long as you can before getting too winded. Reduce your speed to the lower number until you catch your breath, and repeat. 

How many calories do you burn by walking on a treadmill? 

The more you weigh, the less time it will take for you to burn the same number of calories as a smaller person. Regardless of your size, a greater speed or incline will increase your calorie burn rate.

Let's say you're a 45-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds. If you walk at a speed of 2 mph, which is a 30-minute mile, it will take you about 20 minutes to burn 50 calories. If you walk twice as fast, it will take you 11 minutes to burn that same number of calories.

However, if you happen to weigh 180 pounds, it will take you just 15 minutes to burn 50 calories at 2 mph and 8 minutes to burn 50 calories at 4 mph. There are online calorie calculators that can help if your treadmill's computer can't.

Should you stretch before walking on a treadmill? 

Stretching is always a good idea before any physical activity, and treadmill walking is no different. Start with your lower body. With a straight leg, lift your toes as you bend forward with a flat back to stretch your hamstrings. Bend your knee and grab your foot to stretch your quad. If that's challenging, you can put the top of your foot on a chair seat and lean back to achieve the same stretch.

You'll also benefit from stretching your hips, which can be done while seated. Place your ankle above your knee, so that your legs are in a figure-4 shape. With a flat back and flexed foot, gently lean forward until you can feel a stretch in your hips. With all stretches, breathe deeply and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds. Don't forget to switch legs!

Finally, stretch your upper body. Reach your arms above your head and loosen your shoulders and core. A simple kinetic swinging of your arms, gently twisting from side to side, can help your posture as you walk.

What is a good speed for treadmill walking? 

Everybody is different, so every body will feel good walking at a different speed. A common beginner's error is trying to go too fast when starting out. It is better to walk at a leisurely pace for 30 minutes three to five times a day than to sprint for 10 minutes once or twice a week. 

A good speed for you is one that allows you to comfortably maintain your movement for the duration of your planned workout. When you're getting on the treadmill, have an idea of how long you would like to walk for. Determine whether you want a steady burn or interval training that will vary in speed and incline. 

Whatever your plan, don't forget to warm up and cool down. This means starting and ending at a much lower speed. This will give you time to catch your breath and reduce your risk of muscle injury.

What incline should you walk at on a treadmill?

Treadmills vary not just in speed, but in incline. If you leave your treadmill’s incline at zero, you'll be missing out on an opportunity to work out your glutes and hamstrings. Set your incline to at least 1% or 2% so that you won't be destroyed by a hill when you want to go for a walk outside.

Of course, some treadmills are able to tilt up to 30% or even 40%. Start on the lower end and vary your workout as you start to feel more comfortable with treadmill walking. 

What should my heart rate be when walking on a treadmill? 

When you are walking with a nice, long stride that takes up the entire belt of the treadmill, you'll find your heart rate increasing naturally. But what rate is the best? It depends on your resting heart rate. Before you begin, check your resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Your target heart rate will depend on your age as well as your resting baseline. If you are 20 years old, your target heart rate for exercising is around 100 to 170 beats per minute. If you are 40 years old, it's between 90 and 153 beats per minute. If you are 60, it'll be between 80 and 136 beats per minute.

Keep track of your heart rate so you can improve your cardiovascular fitness, too.

Is treadmill walking good exercise? 

It sure is! The best thing about the treadmill is that it enables you to replicate wind resistance and hills that come with the uneven terrain normally found outside. When you push yourself to go a little bit faster or use the incline option, you will find that your heart rate increases. You may even start sweating. This means you are conditioning your body and improving your physical fitness.

Make sure you're naturally swinging your arms and moving your entire body while walking. Often, people will hold on to the rails of the treadmill. This prevents a full-body workout while also disrupting your posture and natural walking gait. When you engage your arms, you'll find that your abdominal muscles are also targeted. Chances are you'll be feeling muscles you didn't know you had!

What is the best treadmill for walking? 

We generally recommend the Life Fitness T5, Precor TRM223, or the Spirit XT685 for walkers. However, fitness equipment is a very personal choice. We advise getting a personalized recommendation based on your body, fitness goals and budget. And, it is important to try before you buy. For a free personal consultation (in person or virtually), click here.

 Life Fitness T5

Precor TRM223

Spirit XT685

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This intuitive treadmill recalls your preferred walk, jog and run speeds, and it lets you choose from dozens of other programs — all at the touch of a button.

This reliable and fully featured treadmill offers touch sensor and wireless heart rate monitoring, 10 preset workouts and speed/incline controls.

With a long list of premium features, this non-folding treadmill is designed for maximum durability to stand up to the rigors of frequent use.

Life Fitness Walking Treadmill Precor Walking Treadmill Spirit Walking Treadmill
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How do I choose the right walking treadmill? 

The best way to choose a treadmill to walk on is to educate yourself about the key components of a treadmill and consult with experts you trust. A good fitness equipment consultant will work with you as an advisor, not a sales person. And, when you make your decision, be sure to shop with a company that offers a price match guarantee. Choosing a treadmill can be confusing. Don't get fooled by the low quality equipment at the big box stores and on TV infomercials. Check out our links below to get started on buying a treadmill.

Not sure what treadmill to choose? Our personalized recommendation is always free.


Ready to learn more? We've got the best treadmill guide on the internet. 


What's a good walking treadmill for small spaces? 

Check out the compact design of the SpaceWalker by Body CraftThis ultra-compact treadmill/workstation also easily folds into a great looking piece of furniture.

Be sure to check out our 30 Day Worry-Free Price Match Guarantee and financing options for low monthly payments on treadmills, ellipticals, home gyms, rowers, and more! Visit a G&G showroom and try before you buy, or try the virtual treadmill selector, the Ultimate Guide to Treadmills, or contact a Fitness Equipment Expert today. Choose from our most popular brands: Precor, Life Fitness, Matrix

Do you have a question?

Contact us or leave it in the comments below.

Ready to build the home fitness room of your dreams? 

Request a free consultation here.

What's it like to shop at G&G Fitness Equipment?

If you’re ready to take the next steps in your fitness journey, contact the experts at G&G Fitness Equipment today! Contact your local  G&G Fitness Equipment showroom and let us show you why we are the best specialty fitness equipment retailer in the northeast.


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