What Is A Treadmill – Your Best 2021 Guide!

94 / 100

The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.

Marcus Aurelius
what is a treadmill

If you’d like to know which are the best elliptical trainers available on the market, check our ultimate list here! 🙂

What is a treadmill? Nowadays, I can tell you that it has nothing to do with their first version or is used for the same intent.

Curiously, the treadmill was created as a form of punishment in early Victorian Britain and was composed of steps set into two cast iron wheels.

But long gone is that period, and rare and fortunately, something built to inflict pure punishment is now something used for the benefit of so many people around the globe. So in this post, we will learn about treadmills, workouts, and the pros & cons.

Note that we will not compare treadmill workouts directly with similar exercise modalities like a stationary bicycle or elliptical training. However, we will provide you with some performance stats from the formerly mentioned exercise modalities to help you to decide which one will fit you better if that’s the case.

So without further ado, let’s see what is a treadmill.

Treadmill draw
One of the original treadmills used for punishment.

What Is A Treadmill Used For

The treadmill is a piece of equipment with an endless belt looping around while assisted by a motor. It’s used as a fitness machine and a stress test for heart disease in the exercise treadmill test.

Treadmills are a well-established way of aerobic workout or warm-up in most gyms, though, in recent years, it has become a very popular form of working out at home, with multiple reasons for that, being the follow the most pertinent:

  • Not being conditioned by the weather, meaning you can work your cardiovascular system without worry if it’s cold, raining, snowing, or even being about to get eat by a meteor. Maybe the last one was a bit excecive but you get the point : )
  • Allows the one to exercise while watching a serie, or listening to music or your favorite podcast.
  • If you’re a family person, it will enable you to exercise while being in the company of your loved ones.
  • It will help prevent procrastination since you don’t have to go elsewhere to exercise.

There are plenty of other reasons, though I found the former the ones that, in the end, will determine if you will invest in a treadmill or not.

Now that we know what is a treadmill let’s see who makes the cut and who should be careful before jumping on the sauce.

Treadmill old couple
We’re never too old to take care of ourselves!

Can Be Used By Whom?

The results obtained using a treadmill can be great, but it comes with a cost. In direct comparison with elliptical training or stationary bicycle, the treadmill is the one that takes a more considerable toll on the body, especially in the bones and joints.

Suppose you have some physical problems concerning your lower body. In that case, you should consider other ways of exercising – with a lower impact on the lower body – to help you achieve your goals without risking injuries.

If you have bones, joints, or back problems, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoarthritis, you should consider other training methods. For that, you should most definitely consult your physician to determine the best options available, attending to your specific situation.

Another thing to consider is that exercising on a treadmill can be extremely dangerous and harmful to you without due attention.

The most common injuries that occurred while performing with a treadmill are:

  • Falls – more common than you might think, with some extreme cases resulting in amputation or severe concussion, so attention is a must when exercising with a treadmill.
  • Lower back, hip, and knee pain when using a treadmill, we adopt a more vertical posture than while running outdoors; due to the increased vertical posture, extra pressure is added to the lower back, hips, and knees that ultimately can lead to injuries.
  • Foot injuries It’s no surprise that foot injuries are pretty common in treadmill workouts. The pressure exercised in the ankles and joints can lead to different issues being the most current plantar fasciitis, fractures, and joint pain.
  • Worth refer to other ailments and injuries that can occur like stress fractures or heart diseases, so be diligent, attentive, and respectful with your body when you exercise on a treadmill.

Now that we know which health issues aren’t compatible with treadmill training and which injuries can occur while training, it’s time for some safety words that can help you enjoy your treadmill training without putting yourself in danger.

Treadmill girl

How To Use A Treadmill Safely

Although all the positive aspects of training with a treadmill, many incidents are registered every year, with a significant percentage of them being perfectly avoidable.

With that bare in mind, we will provide you with a list of considerations to have before jumping – not literally – on the treadmill and while exercising on it.

Be kind with yourself

Putting our well-being first is a principle that we should apply to all kinds of exercise. Don’t get me wrong, it is wise to push yourself and test your limits time by time, but doing it regularly can lead to injuries and heart issues.

Assuming you know your ideal heart rate, you shouldn’t surpass 80% of it. 50% up to 70% above your ideal heart rate will get you the desired results, while going above 90% could lead to a stroke or heart attack. So know your body and be thoughtful in your decisions.

Think carefully about the surrounding space where you train

Another essential point to consider before starting to train with a treadmill is the place you will be using for the effect. You should always have enough space around, and mostly behind your treadmill.

If you fall – which can happen to the most experienced individual – you will not hit (mainly) your head in any object.

Keep in mind that the treadmill’s belt can move incredibly fast, so in case of a fall, having a clear area behind your workout space can help you mitigate any potential ailments or injuries.

Keep away children & animals

From the almost 9,000 yearly accidents registered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on fitness equipment with children, a big chunk of them involves treadmills.

Children’s curiosity can make them try to operate the treadmill without supervision or even knowledge, leading them to put their hands where they shouldn’t, mainly in the belt or between the belt and the machine’s rest.

Due to the unpredictable behavior that a child or an animal can display – attending your case – you should always have them supervised or on a leash to assure you that you can work out in all safety.

Pay attention to your clothing and shoes

The last aspect you should consider before using a treadmill is your clothing, mainly your shoes.

Concerning clothing, I might be stating the obvious though it is always helpful to remind you that you should use adequate clothing when exercising. Still, I want to call your attention to the importance of having adequate shoes when exercising on a treadmill.

Using inadequate shoes or training barefoot can be a recipe for disaster. The temperature and friction created by the belt during training can be unbearable for the feet, and the feet might get tangled in the treadmill’s sides in case of fall.

If you’re using a treadmill in a gym, training barefoot is unsanitary, so don’t do it. Remember, using adequate shoes protect your feet from impact and avoids injuries.

Treadmill guy

Look Straightforward

Now that we know what to do before using a treadmill let’s learn the first tip that you have to bear in mind to assure you a safe exercise train – looking forward. Simply as that, by looking forward, you’ll be able to manage better your balance, coordination and avoid stumbling or falling.

Especially when we start to use a treadmill, we tend to look to our feet or to the sides to understand the space and distances between us and the treadmill.

Since we tend to move our body in the direction we look, not looking forward can lead to a fall in a heartbeat, so when you exercise on a treadmill, avoid distractions and try to look forward.

Start at a slow pace

When you start your workout, you should straddle the deck before jumping – once again, not literally – on the treadmill.

Although most treadmills start at a slow pace – as a safety measure – despite the program used last, that can malfunction, leading to an accident if you have your feet on the belt.

Once the treadmill runs as it should – and after warming up – if you’d like to incline or increase the speed, it’s wise to start by incline, and once you’re comfortable, you start to increase the pace slowly.

Don’t become overdependent on the handrails

The handrails can be very useful to help you start your journey with a treadmill, though you shouldn’t extend to long its use.

If you use the handrails longer than you should, you will negatively affect your development and put extra pressure on the shoulders and arms. That will most certainly impact your balance while exercising, which can lead to injuries.

Another result of handrails’ overextended use is less core involvement in your workouts, leading to fewer calories burned. After the initial period, if you still need to use the handrails, maybe you have set inclination or speed too high, so you might want to check that.

Don’t exit a treadmill while moving

Last but most definitely not least, never, EVER leave a treadmill in movement, despite the speed you’re exercising.

To start, you must know where the emergency shut-off button is so that you can use it in case of injury, equipment malfunction, or other unexpected situations.

With time, it’s easier to get distracted and somehow confident, leading us to exit the treadmill with the belt rolling to answer the phone or go to the toilette. Remember that pride always comes before a fall, so never leave a treadmill while moving despite how comfortable you get on your workout.

Now that we know the correct way to use a treadmill let’s flip the coin and see what you should never do when exercising.

Treadmill console

Don’t Do This On A Treadmill

I will firstly provide you with some summarized points about what you shouldn’t do while exercising on a treadmill, and after – to help you paint the picture – I will provide you with a short video on which you see the result of not being thoughtful when training.

As I said before, the best way to know what you shouldn’t do while exercising on a treadmill is by looking at what you should do and flipping the coin.

With that in mind, here’s what you shouldn’t be doing to avoid disaster:

Double-check your clothes and shoes before training

In the previous chapter, I called your attention to the use of adequate clothes and shoes.

Now I’d like you to double-check your clothing and mostly your shoes before starting your workout; untied shoes can lead to unnecessary issues.

Don’t use your cellphone while exercising

I know how boring a treadmill can be and how tempting and easy it is to grab your phone to change music or dabble on the apps.

My advice: don’t do it! Cellphones demand a considerable amount of attention you don’t have if you’re working out, so if you want to avoid stumbling or falling, only use your cellphone with the treadmill switch off.

Avoid talking during your training

Another good way to be less tedious while working out is talking with someone – usually a training bud on the gym or at home – that will make our train more bearable on one side but will take us the due focus to perform well and safe.

Since we tend to look to where our attention is, it is elementary that if we’re talking with someone on your side, you will eventually turn your head, and that’s where an accident happens, so I highly recommend you to keep the talk to the minimum while on a treadmill.

Don’t try flippy moves

The last point I want to provide you might sound obvious. Still, I decided to include this tip, attending to the significant amount of content you have online with people trying silly moves on a treadmill and failing miserably on their attempts.

Treadmills are made for walking, jogging, and running. If you want to jump while running, you can always do it outdoors or on a trampoline. If you don’t want to make a fool of yourself or, even worst, please, use the treadmill for its purpose only. Your body will thank you! : )

Now with a clear idea of what you should avoid doing on a treadmill, I provide you – as formerly promised – with a short video with some avoidable fails on treadmills.

I took the care to find a video with funny fails instead of extreme injuries that might scare you. In that way, you can always take a good laugh while watching it. Enjoy it!

Please, don’t jump on a treadmill drunk and drinking wine! 🙂

If you’re more aware of the dangers of misusing a treadmill and got some laughs on the process, then the video fulfilled its intent!

Before wrapping up this post, I will resume you the pros & cons of training with a treadmill to help you digest better all the information I just provided you.

Let’s start with the pros and see what is a treadmill good for.


User Friendly

If you take all the needed precautions and learn how to operate the console’s programs, it becomes pretty straightforward to use it with time.

More control over your workout

Since you can tailor the programs to fit your needs better, you can benefit more from your workout sessions.

More comfortable

You control the surface you’re exercising and have more control over the pace and incline.

More predictable than outdoor activities

Exercising on a treadmill will allow you to train without being exposed to the weather, and you don’t have to invest time in planning routes.

Burn Calories

If your goal is to lose weight, training on a treadmill might be the best gym or home exercise that you have to burn those extra pounds.

You can do other things

Although you should remain focus on your training, you can always listen to some music, podcasts, watch tv, or even do some reading while performing on a treadmill.

Helps you keep track of your performances

Nowadays, most treadmills come equipped with special features that monitor your heart rate, calories burned and walked/running distance, which helps you keep track of your performances.

There are a few other points, though these are the most pertinent. So now let’s see which are the cons of training with a treadmill.



One of the reasons most people don’t have a treadmill at home is the price. Treadmills can go from a couple of hundred dollars up to – most likely – a couple of thousand dollars.


Treadmills are a big piece of equipment, with some making up to 36 inches (91.44cm) wide by 72 inches (182.88cm) long. Adding the needed safe space – mainly behind the treadmill – you will quickly realize how much space a treadmill can take.

High-impact training

Running is an exercise modality that takes a significant toll on the lower back, hips, knees, and ankle joints.

Although the cushioned belts allow you safe and steady training, they don’t prevent all the impact of running; hence, if you have some problems in your lower back, hips, knees, or ankle joints, once again, I suggest you think thoroughly before start using a treadmill.


Treadmills are indeed becoming more silent with time, but they are still relatively noisy. So in case you want to buy a treadmill to home, consider the noise impact on your family, pets, neighbors, and in you, of course.

Limited options

Treadmills display three training options: walking, jogging, and running. They’re all essential to a healthy lifestyle though they can be tedious activities, mainly if you’re entirely focused on your training – as you should.

Again, reflect and envision thoroughly before making any decision. The last thing you want is to use a treadmill as a hanger.

These are the cons of exercise with a treadmill. Next, I’ll give you my honest opinion on treadmill workouts, share some data and wrap it up.

Treadmill couple

My Two Cents

As you can attest, there are multiple reasons to use or not a treadmill. But, in the end, you’re the one in the best position to know much you will benefit from training on a treadmill.

I did treadmill in the past, and the reason that led me to stop it was related to the fact that I changed – a couple of years ago – my form of training, though time by time, I still put my feet on the treadmill and I enjoy it.

A timely question I come across often is what the best exercise modality is? Elliptical or treadmill training? I have avoided that question so far though it is time to address the elephant in the room.

First, there’s no definitive answer to that question since there are multiple factors to consider – personal health, physical limitations, preferences, goals, and so on.

With that said, if you’re aiming for an exercise modality similar to a treadmill but with lower impact, maybe elliptical training will fit you better.

On the other hand, if you like adversity or you’re aiming to run a marathon, for instance, perhaps you should consider treadmill training.

In a recent post about elliptical training – that you can find here – I shared some stats from a study. The heart rate, oxygen consumption, and ground reaction forces were compared between elliptical training, walking, cycling, stepping, and running (treadmill).

Below I’ll provide you with three images from that study to see the different results from that tests.

What Is A Treadmill - Your Best 2021 Guide! 1
Average heart rate responses to 20m.
What Is A Treadmill - Your Best 2021 Guide! 2
Average oxygen consumption values during 20m.
What Is A Treadmill - Your Best 2021 Guide! 3
Peak ground reaction forces were measured during each condition.

From these three images, you can get a clear idea of the impact and benefits that each exercise modality has to offer you and which might fit you better.

So, whether treadmill training is your cup of tea or not, the important is to keep yourself active and find the best way to exercise without unnecessarily damaging your body.

I hope you found all this information useful and helped you with your decisions. If you’re curious to know which are the best treadmills on the market, you will only have to wait a couple of days to find out our list.

There you have it, guys, our ultimate guide on treadmills. Do you think I miss something? Do you want to add something or just give me your thoughts on the subject? Don’t hesitate to drop a comment in the comment section below, and I’ll gladly reply to you back!

Before you go, if you arrived until this part of the article, I’d like to THANK YOU for your time reading another of our posts and giving us your feedback to help us improve our work continuously! It means a lot to me!

If you like our content, please consider following us everywhere (except on the street, that’s weird:)) and I’ll catch you in our next post; until then, stay strong and keep on moving! Amor Fati! : )

Pompeu Pedrosa,

Founder of Against the Ropes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *