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Fact or Fiction: Can You Read While Using A Treadmill?


On the surface, the question, “can you read while using a treadmill” may sound like a bit of a nutty thing to ash, but let’s face it, running or walking on a treadmill isn’t the most exciting way to spend your time.

While it’s obviously a proven way to burn calories and lose weight, it can get a bit repetitive.

Can you read on a treadmill

When I’m training I do like a bit of distraction as it helps make the time go faster, whether I’m training weights that day, or a cardio on the treadmill. Reading a book is the ultimate distraction and the idea of getting smarter while getting fitter is incredibly alluring.

But is it possible?

In this guide we’ll get down to whether or not you can enjoy your favourite book while walking, running of jogging on a treadmill at home.

reading while doing pretty much any kind of exercise on a treadmill is oddly difficult

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Quick Answer: Can you read while you’re on a treadmill?

Running and trying to read at the same time is definitely a bad idea. Using the tablet stand, the distance from your eyes to the book, paper or magazine will be too far, even if you’ve got 20/20 eye sight. Holding a book is also going to be extremely difficult when doing anything other than a slow walk. Don’t despair though, there are some interesting workarounds and some good alternatives such as audible.

Can you walk on a treadmill and read at the same time?

We’ve ruled out running and reading a physical book or magazine as a crazy idea. But what about walking? After all, your hands aren’t doing much while strolling on a treadmill, right?

The truth is that reading while doing pretty much any kind of exercise on a treadmill is oddly difficult.

It would seem like a simple enough task but taking your attention away from what your legs are doing means it’s very easy to drift off course. The issue with even expensive commercial running machines, (which typically have much wider belts than home based treadmills), is you’ve only got a matter of inches between your feet and the edge of the running deck.

Stepping the static rim while the belt is moving is not something you want to try. Think the worst You’ve Been Framed moments on a treadmill and you’ll get the idea.

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Are there any safe ways to read a book while walking on a treadmill?

If your machine has hand rails at the side, and it isn’t one of those walking pads, you can technically hold something safely in one hand and walk on your machine at the same time. Using your free hand to hold onto the rail completely prevents this drifting from one side to the other and means you can hold your kindle or book safely.

Although a tad awkward at first, this is the only safe way to walk and read at the same time on a motorized machine.

Flipping to the next page can be an issue though and you’ll have to be mindful not to stray off course.

Related: what are the best treadmills for walking?

What are some good exercise machines you can read on?

OK so what are some good ways to burn calories and exercise your grey matter at the same time?

Running machines are a no go. Rowing machines are definitely out. So what other alternatives are out there?

  1. Recumbent bikes – are a really good choice if you want to read and exercise at the same time. As you’re not only seated but have a supportive backrest, it’s simple to hold a book or your favourite magazine while pedalling. Your upper body doesn’t move that much and your legs are doing all the work. This is a much better idea than trying to run and read at the same time.
  2. Exercise bikes – Next on the list would be the regular kind of exercise bike. Although you haven’t got the back support here, so long as you’ve got a nice sturdy bike and a wide supportive seat, they can be a great way to catch up on your reading and while the minutes and calories away. You’ll need to be confident with your balance however as you’ll be doing a kind of unicycle hands free.
  3. Elliptical machines are also an option – Far easier than trying to walk on a treadmill while reading a book, ellipticals offer a great way to burn calories and tone your legs and butt up in the process. Because your feet have a sturdy little bucket each, its safe to plod along hands-free and hold either a book or a mag a the same time.

Reading and running: Using audio books is the best of both worlds

Going back to treadmills, there’s a good alternative to holding a physical book that means you can run and go deep on your favourite books too.

Audio books.

If you’ve not discovered audible, it’s an app you can grab for your phone, that allows you to listen to recorded audio books. When I got audible I wondered why I hadn’t tried it sooner. I just figured it wasn’t my thing.

I was completely wrong and long story short, I use Audible just about every day.

And it’s a godsend for the gym. I can get through about a whole extra book each month just using Audio books.

And Audio books are perfect for treadmills. This lets you read and walk, jog or run without any danger of clipping yor feet on the edge or any number of other calamities that could result from a stumble while reading.

If you’ve got an Alexa within ear shot of your treadmill, you can also ask her to play your audio book and it will pick up from where you left off.

There’s also no different in the benefit your mind will get from listening to a book as opposed to reading the print on a page.

Summing up: Fit body, fit mind

Getting in shape takes time and anything that helps keep you motivated and take your mind of the slog it can be sometimes is worth doing. Reading is a great way to pass time and learn new stuff while using a treadmill. But using a kindle or a book while using a treadmill is not the best way to do it.

Get into audible, or find some good free audio books on Youtube and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

tay safe and happy running!