Is a treadmill a good way to use weight?
There are many reasons why a person might not feel comfortable running on a treadmill, but they could still benefit from using one at a slower pace.
In this post, we are going to discuss how walking on a treadmill can support weight loss goals and give some tips on how to structure walking-based workout programmes. Whether you want to lose weight or get in shape walking, this guide is for you.
Treadmills make for one of the best ways to lose weight for a number of reasons:
- They’re safe, private and easy to use
- You’re not limited to walking when the weather’s nice
- There are many studies showing how effective treadmills are
- Treadmills are suitable for any age group
- It’s a fun, easy way to lose weight that you won’t dread doing each time
- There are many different treadmill workouts available on Youtube and 3rd party online apps such as iFit
Can you lose weight walking on a treadmill?
This is pretty much the same question as can you lose weight walking?
The quick answer is yes. Walking on a treadmill can help you lose weight. Walking burns calories and this is one of the major factors in losing weight. However, there are some caveats:
- Weight loss is also dependent on your diet.
- The duration and intensity of the walking you do on your machine also have a big impact.
How to lose weight on a treadmill
If your goal is to shed some excess fat, you might think that you have to do some heavy-duty cardio to have any effect. This is not true. Walking at a 3.5 mph (17-minute mile) pace, a 125lb person will burn about 107 calories, a 155lb person will burn 133, and a 185lb person will burn 159.
When walking for exercise, push yourself to walk at as brisk a pace you can manage while still holding a conversation. Small speed increases can boost your calorie output. For example, walking at 4 mph (15-minute mile) burns around 135, 175, and 189 calories for a 125, 155lb, and 185lb person respectively.
HIIT is one of the best workouts to lose weight walking on a machine
You can take a HIIT-style approach to walking on a treadmill if you are trying to improve your pace. After warming up at a comfortable setting for 5 minutes, try alternating short bursts (1-2 minutes) of a speed that is at the top of your comfort zone and take active recovery breaks at a reasonable pace.
Another way to increase the intensity of your walk is to set the incline level higher.
You should always walk on a slight incline (about 2%) to mimic the resistance of natural conditions. A higher incline can activate up to 10% more of the muscle with each stride – all without increasing the pace.
Take your walking to the next level with iFit
If you’re worried walking on a treadmill sounds a bit boring, you’ll likely love one of the services out there like iFit. This is an online membership service (a bit like Netflix, but for fitness) where you’ll walk along with instructors through some pretty sexy eye-candy scenery from glamourous locations around the world.
If you’re looking for a new treadmill, it might be worth looking into the NordicTrack or Proform machines as they’re designed to be used with iFit and
Is walking on a treadmill good for you?
If you are at the beginning of your fitness journey, keep in mind the phrase “you’ve got to walk before you can run” – it applies in a very literal sense to treadmills! Life is not a movie montage; you cannot hop on a treadmill and expect to be able to run straight away.
You need to develop your muscles and build up stamina before you attempt jogging. Walking is the perfect starting point. It also feels very safe if you are someone who lacks confidence in your physical ability.
If you are recovering from an injury, have joint problems, are pregnant or are overweight, walking on a treadmill is a much safer option than running because it greatly reduces the stress on the joints.
Running is a high impact exercise because, as each leg pounds down, your body weight is driven down too, causing strain on the knee, ankle and foot areas. Walking, on the other hand, is a low impact exercise that removes the risk of injury.
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Walking vs running on a treadmill for weight loss
While exercising vigorously burns comparatively more calories minute-per-minute, going at a more moderate or even gentle pace has other advantages that can be used to support your goals. As a less intense exercise, you can build yourself up to doing longer sessions.
What does it matter if you spend an hour walking to burn the same number of calories as you would have done in 30 minutes of spinning if you have achieved the same result at the end of the session?
Another advantage of walking is there is no recommended number of sessions per week. Generally speaking, we would not recommend doing more than 3-4 cardio sessions per week because they are taxing on the body and you can risk burnout. Walking, however, can be done every day.
Indeed, as hunter-gatherers, we are perfectly built for it! While it might seem daunting to exercise every day, a treadmill is a relatively easy machine to use so you do not need to intently focus on what you are doing. You can listen to a podcast or watch a tv show while your legs do the work.
How much walking do you need to see results?
As already mentioned, our bodies are built to walk, so you will find that your ability and stamina increase quickly. For weight loss, walking must be combined with a calorie-controlled diet for successful results.
A lot of people overestimate the fat-burning effects of exercise and ‘reward’ themselves with treats for working out…often they put back more than they actually burned, undoing all their hard work.
Because there are so many variables that affect weight loss, we recommend you download a calorie tracker app such as MyFitnessPal or Nutracheck.
You can input your details (age, gender, starting weight) and tell it how much weight you want to lose per week (we recommend a pound or two for sustainable weight loss).
These apps link to wearable fitness trackers and incorporate your steps into your weight loss plan. By keeping on top of your calorie deficit, you can expect to see visible results over the course of weeks and months.
Can you walk barefoot on a treadmill?
There’s absolutely no reason not to walk on your treadmill without your shoes, or completely barefoot. Our feet weren’t made to walk with shoes on after all! And it’s probably not a good idea to walk down your street on your bare feet.
While treadmill belts aren’t as comfy as your carpet, and the level of comfort varies between machines, typically it’s a nice feel and will allow your bones to move the way they’re meant to, unhampered by those tight trainers.
People often feel a bit conscious of the part where the belt meets the plastic runners but as you’re walking there’s no danger of your feet touching those areas. And it’s not the end of the world if they do.
Give it a try!
What are the dangers of walking too much on your treadmill?
As far as the world of exercise goes, injuries from walking on a treadmill are fairly rare.
The only risk you’ve got is over-doing it, especially in the early stages. This is even easier to do if you get a treadmill with an incline. Take it easy when you first start. Even go for 5 – 10 minute walks on the treadmill until you build up muscle and tendon strength in your legs.
Which treadmill should you buy for walking?
Just about any treadmill can be used for walking and buying one for this purpose is generally cheaper and easier than if you’re looking for one that you can run on. The reason for this is you don’t need the extra speed, power and extra belt size that you would for running.
There are some brilliant treadmills you can purchase if you’re looking to take a good stroll from the comfort of your home. You can check out our guide for some of the best treadmills for walking, where we talk about some of the better ones we found in 2023.
Walking pads are also a relatively new addition to the home treadmill market, offering a smaller, lighter, and slower-paced machine that’s also a cheaper option than a more traditional machine.
What kind of treadmill is the best for losing weight?
There are all kinds of treadmills out there from compact under desk ones to whopping gym style commercial ones. Something like a walking pad is great if you’re short on space and just need a quick easy way to do some indoor walking.
On the downside, those smaller machines miss out on one of the better things you can do with a treadmill to lose some pounds; incline!
If you get a treadmill with an incline, it means that the running deck will tilt upwards to create the feel of walking up a hill. Like walking up a bank in real life, it increases the amount of work and you’ll get out of breath quicker. While this doesn’t sound like fun, you’ll burn more calories and get more done in a shorter time.
If you can get a treadmill with powered (aka automatic) inline, the machine will be able to set it on the fly, either during a program, or when you press the incline buttons. Incline walking is perfect for anyone looking for more of a challenge or who needs to lose calories quicker.
Phew, that was quick a march. Thanks for reading this far. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered in this guide.
- As studies have shown, you can lose weight walking on a treadmill.
- They’re safe, fun and easy to use.
- As with any training, diet plays an equally important part.
- There are a number of different workouts for weight loss, including HIIT.
- Services like iFit alleviate boredom
- Walking pads are a good buy.
- For more taxing workouts, get a treadmill with incline.
Reference and Further Reading
- JSCR – Comparison of Energy Expenditure to Walk or Run
- CBHS – Is walking or running better for your health?
- Better Health Channel – Walking for good health
- NCBI – A Meta-Analysis of Pedometer-Based Walking Interventions and Weight Loss
- National Library of Medicine – Dose-response effect of walking exercise on weight loss. How much is enough?