Get your steps indoors and burn calories with a treadmill walking workout

Treadmill walking is a great way to burn calories and get fit indoors – even on a rainy day or in summer heat or winter cold. Treadmills allow you to maintain a constant brisk walking speed while watching a show or listening to a podcast at the same time. For more intense treadmill workouts, you can vary your speed by adding intervals or burn more calories by increasing the incline.

Not everyone likes treadmill working – at least at first. Many people feel more comfortable taking a nice outdoor walk, or need to see new sights to stay interested. If that sounds like you, you may be missing out on the extra steps you could get from even occasional treadmill sessions. We’ll cover how to burn more calories treadmill walking, plus how to keep your treadmill workout fun and productive.

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Quick Pacer Note: If you do decide to walk on a treadmill, make sure you carry your phone on your body – either in your pocket or on an armband. If you put your phone on the treadmill, Pacer won’t pick up your body motion and won’t count your steps!

Why should you do a treadmill walking workout?

Woman and 2 men running on treadmills

Benefits of working out on a treadmill:

  • Many treadmills are designed to be easier on your joints.
  • When the weather is bad outside, you can still get in a nice, long walk indoors by using a treadmill.
  • You can stop whenever you want without worrying about how to get home.
  • You can watch TV, read a book, listen to an audiobook, or watch your kids play while walking.
  • You can put your water bottle, towel, keys and more on the treadmill instead of carrying it.
  • Treadmills allow you to walk at a constant speed, which can be helpful if you tend to walk too fast and tire yourself out.
  • The handrails are great for stability if you have balance problems.
  • Allergies or outdoor pollution where you live may prevent you from enjoying outdoor walks on some days, but you can stay indoors and walk on the treadmill.
  • Many treadmills can keep track of heart rate, speed, time, calories burned, etc.
  • You can program the treadmill to set the speed, incline, and difficulty of your walk and change this up whenever you want
  • If you’re already paying for a gym membership, why not use the equipment?

Limitations of treadmills:

  • Some people find walking or running on a treadmill more difficult than walking normally.
  • You’re not getting fresh air or seeing natural sights as you walk.
  • Treadmill walking may take some getting used to.
  • It’s easy to become bored, especially since you aren’t physically going anywhere.
  • You aren’t getting your Vitamin D from sunlight.
  • Treadmills aren’t free – whether you join a gym or buy a treadmill at home.
  • You may develop bad walking posture due to watching or reading, or due to poor treadmill design.

Why consider walking outdoors?

Couple on a nature hike in Spring
Daxiao Productions / Shutterstock

Benefits of walking outdoors:

  • You can view some beautiful natural scenery as you walk. Even if you choose to walk the same trail, the changing seasons will give you plenty of new things to look at.
  • Natural scenery can give you additional mood and health-boosting benefits.
  • You get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
  • Fresh air is great, especially if you’ve been cooped up indoors all day.
  • You can walk a different route every day and change things up.
  • You can bring your dog along for company and safety.
  • It’s free.
  • You can take care of errands or other tasks while getting steps
  • You can walk anywhere, any time without having to go to the gym.

Limitations of walking outdoors:

  • You have to finish your walk or find another way to get home. If your leg starts hurting, you still have to walk back to your car.
  • You’re at the mercy of the weather, which can make it impossible to walk outside some days.
  • Indoor walking locations may not have enough space to get a good, long walk in.
  • You have to carry your things, like a water bottle, keys, and more with you.
  • You have to be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re walking alone.
  • In case of an emergency, you may not have a cell phone signal.
  • If you’re going for a hike, the trail may be uneven or you could potentially get lost.

Get the same workout on a treadmill ou outdoors!

People running on treadmills at the gym
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

You don’t have to choose between only walking on a treadmill and only walking outside. There are certain health benefits associated with walking outdoors and being in nature, but on the other hand you might feel more relaxed or have an easier time exercising indoors. You can supplement your outdoor walking workout with some quick treadmill sessions, or add periodic outdoor strolls to an indoor treadmill workout.

When trying to decide which is better for you, it’s important to keep in mind that both share many of the same benefits.

Where did the treadmill idea come from anyway?

Man and woman running on treadmill at hotel
GP Studio / Shutterstock

They say when you’re in Rome, do as the Romans do, and some Romans got their steps in by hitting their treadmills. Seriously. They referred to it as a ‘tread wheel‘ and like the name, it resembles a hamster wheel. The tread wheel first showed up in the 1st Century AD and wasn’t used for walking. It was all part of a crane that could lift up to 13,227.74 lbs or 6,000 kg. One person would get in the wheel and power the crane by running.

Tips for Walking on a Treadmill

Coach showing woman how to run on treadmill
Pavel Vinnik / Shutterstock

If your curious about treadmills and are ready to give treadmill walking a try, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t jump on while the treadmill going full speed. Get on when the treadmill is stopped, then start out slow and increase your speed when it feels natural.
  • Make sure you maintain good walking posture – even if you’re watching a show or reading a book.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Listen to audio-books or podcasts so you don’t get bored.
  • Small towels are great for staying cool when you break a sweat.
  • Slow down and then stop the treadmill before getting off. Jumping off can lead to injury.
  • Most treadmills have an emergency stop system in case of injury. It could be a button to press or a clip to attach to yourself in case you slip off. Use it!

There’s no rule, unspoken or otherwise, that says you have to choose, so don’t be afraid to do both. Having the option to change up your workout will keep you coming back for more, so don’t limit yourself to only choosing one.

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