You may well have heard that there’s benefits to running, but how about the benefits of running on a treadmill?
Believe it or not, treadmills offer a wide range of health benefits, and are a great way to keep fit, whether that’s in a gym or fitness centre, or even from the comfort of your own home.
Our article aims to guide you through all the things you need to know, and all of the benefits that come with running on a treadmill. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, or just starting off on your exercise journey, our guide to the health benefits of running on a treadmill will answer any questions you might have, and give you the best possible start.
But, if you’re already confident in your cardio capabilities, then perhaps a career in the fitness industry is your next step. Our formally accredited personal training courses give you everything you could ever need to get started, as well as unparalleled support and resources.
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What Is A Treadmill?
When exploring the benefits of running on a treadmill, it is important to go back to basics so we can understand what we mean by a treadmill. Most people think of treadmills as a piece of staple gym equipment, being the ultimate machine to assist cardiovascular exercise.
Named ‘running machines’ by many, they are defined as devices used ‘for exercise, consisting of a continuous moving belt on which to walk or run’.
Treadmills were originally used by animals and humans for manual labour. They also have a darker history of being used for the punishment of prisoners in the 19th Century - definitely no rest day for them!
The first commercial treadmills came around in the 1950s/60s. William Staub, an American mechanical engineer, who created the treadmill, explored the real advantages of running on a treadmill and displayed that there were no more excuses to not invest in your fitness.
In 1968 Dr. Kenneth Cooper, an eminent researcher in aerobic fitness, released a study, ‘The aerobics programme for total well-being’, which inspired Staub’s creation and led him to conclude that running on a treadmill for just 8 minutes a day, four to five times a week meant ‘you would always be in a good fitness category’.
ow more affordable and with new advances in technology, the advantages of running on a treadmill are endless. From control functions to performance monitoring and a myriad of special features - what’s not to love!
So, let’s take a look at the key health benefits of running on a treadmill, plus everything you need to know and be aware of.
What Are The Benefits Of Running On A Treadmill?
#1 - Provides Easy & Convenient Access to Exercise
One of the biggest excuses restricting people from engaging in physical exercise is time. Many people live a fast-paced life, and it can be hard to find space in your schedule to focus on your health.
Running can be an easy and accessible way to exercise, but it’s not always as simple as putting some trainers on and heading out. Although, with our selection of the best cushioned running shoes, you might find it difficult to take them off!
Many things can get in the way, from the weather and time of day, to safety and finding suitable places to run. Running on a treadmill provides a guaranteed place to exercise, whether that be at home or at your local gym.
Some people, however, just aren’t ready for their home to become a mini gym and dread the idea of having an exercise machine in their house. That being said, many treadmills nowadays are transportable and can be folded up and stored away.
Other benefits of running on a treadmill is the multiplicity and convenience it offers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner, prefer long distance or short distance running, running on a treadmill can provide a workout for everyone.
Many people ask; is running on a treadmill easier than running outside? Focusing on factors of convenience and accessibility, plus their user-friendly nature, it is clear that running on a treadmill really is as simple as it gets.
#2 - Offers Customisable Workouts
The advantages of running on a treadmill also include the ability to control and customise your workout.
Many people wonder, is running on a treadmill easier? When it comes to the surface you’ll be running along, the simple answer is yes.
When running on a treadmill, you know exactly what you’re getting. By being comfortable with the impact of the surface, this allows you to focus on the running itself rather than where you’re treading.
You can also customise your workout when running on a treadmill - almost all treadmills offer options to control speed, incline, intervals and more! OriGym’s report on the best treadmills to get you in shape has all those options and many more besides.
The ability to customise your running session on a treadmill also allows you to create a time effective workout. Perhaps you are working towards a new calorie threshold but you only have 20 minutes of free time. With the ability to control and customise workouts, you can ensure that with the time you have, you are hitting your fitness targets.
One of the most notable health benefits of running on a treadmill is that you can burn around 100 - 150 calories during a 20-minute run.
Or, depending on speed, by running 1.4 miles on the treadmill you could burn up to 200 calories. Of course, the customizability of running on a treadmill means that you could increase these results by boosting up the incline, speed and intensity.
#3 - Tracks Your Progress
One of the more technological benefits of running on a treadmill is their range of features which allow you to closely monitor your progress.
A great way to measure progress by running on a treadmill is the ability to measure your heart rate. Many treadmills come with heart rate monitors. They can measure your heart rate by capturing your pulse which is known as ‘BPM’ - beats per minute we’d recommend one of the best heart rate monitors to track your data to keep you up-to-date with all your vital signs.
Advantages of running on a treadmill are also highlighted by having access to heart rate control systems. These systems (HRC) can control your workout by altering the speed and incline depending on your heart rate to ensure you are maintaining the level of exertion desired for your workout goals.
There are also many other ways to measure progress and assess the health benefits of running on a treadmill:
- Cadence: Measured off how many steps you complete in a minute. Cadence displays runner’s efficiency and ability to maintain a continuous productivity level.
- Power (Watts): Monitors your overall effort and exertion levels over your heart rate to provide an immediate indicator in progress and consistency.
- Pace: This is the speed at which you run. It combines both stride rate and length to indicate your pace versus time. You can measure this in kmph (Kilometers per hour) or mph (miles per hour).
Another great way to monitor progress is through the creation of user profiles and saving workouts. Many treadmills nowadays have this option which allows you to reflect on your progress and to see how far you’ve come.
#4 - Increased Safety
Many people who are new to running or are recovering from an injury often ask; is running on a treadmill easier? It is evident that running on a treadmill, in many ways, provides a safe way and place to work out. Here’s why:
- Physically: Running on a treadmill provides a softer surface to run on reducing impact and decreasing the chance of developing long-term health problems. You can choose a treadmill based on their shock absorption qualities determined by thickness and materials used, creating a safer and more comfortable running experience.
- Reliable Surface: No more tripping on curbs or grids, resulting in sprained ankles or bruised elbows. A treadmill’s surface is consistently smooth, meaning you can run without fear of stumbling or standing on something unexpected.
- No Adverse Weather: Rain and snow aren’t exactly the best conditions for running, but you can always turn to your trusty treadmill for a reliable space to run.
- Personal Safety: Going for a run, especially when it’s dark, can be unsafe. OriGym’s guide to running safely at night offers tips and benefits if you must run in the evening, but running on a treadmill provides you with a safe and private environment to zone out and enjoy your workout.
#5 - Boosts Mental Health
We’ve started to examine some of the more physical benefits, but what are the benefits of running on a treadmill for our mental health? Running on a treadmill in particular is the perfect way to zone out and have some time to reflect. The ability to enjoy music, read, or watch television, all whilst working out, really is a great way to shift a bad mood.
Some discussions around the health benefits of running on a treadmill explore the phenomenon of ‘runner’s high’, a term relating to the feeling of euphoria and exhilaration after running. However, this is a generalised term which refers to the release of endorphins when we exercise.
Despite some misunderstanding, it is clear that there is a connection between exercise and mental wellbeing. For example, exercise can result in the production of ‘neurogenesis’ which is said to improve the brain’s performance and prevent cognitive decline.
There are many studies on the health benefits of running on a treadmill, specifically the relationship between running and mental wellbeing. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public health, reconfirmed that ‘acute bouts of running and longer-term running interventions are associated with improvements in a range of mental health outcomes’.
In short whether it’s a quick jog or a lengthy session, benefits of running on a treadmill are greatly supported by improvements in wellbeing and mental health.
And if you’re looking for a more in-depth dive into how running can boost your brain power, we’ve written a thorough guide to the mental health benefits of running.
#6 - Improves Heart and Lung Health
What are the benefits of running on a treadmill when it comes to our internal organs?
In short, two things we all notice when we’ve been running is an increased heart rate and that we start to get out of breath.
Running on a treadmill provides an effective way to boost your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness levels.
Yes, there have been some debates around the risks of running for heart and lung health. You may have heard of athletes who have suffered fatal consequences during extensive training for marathon running. However, running on a treadmill is perfectly safe and when done in a way that works for your body, it is a great way to keep fit.
Health benefits of running on a treadmill also include advantages to cardiovascular health. By increasing blood circulation and oxygen levels, it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. In turn, this allows you to strengthen your heart muscle, reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
A 15-year study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that amongst 50,000 people, running for 5 to 10 minutes a day, even at lower speeds, reduced risks of heart disease by 45%.
Like your heart, running on a treadmill gets your lungs working and can help to improve your pulmonary and respiratory system. Running on a treadmill will allow you to strengthen your respiratory muscles and take in deeper breaths, widening your lung capacity.
As a result, your body will transport oxygen to your muscles and heart at a much faster rate- a key factor in building stamina and being able to stay active for longer.
When exploring what are the benefits of running on a treadmill for lung health, another key element is the ability to clear your lungs. However, unless you have access to nature, running on a treadmill indoors may be a lot safer for your lung health.
Plus, OriGym have compiled a guide to the best foods for lung health, so you can boost your breathing and stay healthy!
Air pollution is arguably one of the biggest threats to our lung health, and running outside in areas with high air pollution can drastically contribute towards respiratory diseases. Instead, running on a treadmill indoors allows you to reduce this risk and remain on the path to great lung health.
#7 - Helps You Achieve Weight Loss Goals
Is running on a treadmill a good option when trying to lose weight? When you think of weight loss exercises, one of the first things that comes to mind is cardio, and in particular running on a treadmill.
In general, running on a treadmill burns calories faster than other forms of exercise. It’s even been found that you can burn upwards of 100 calories per mile you run. This, when combined with the customisable elements we mentioned earlier in this article, means that weight loss goals are well within reach!
There are many ways you can alternate your training methods to succeed in your weight loss goals, though. One of these can be seen through the benefits of interval running on a treadmill.
Interval training is an exercise method that involves periods of high intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest. For example, your interval-based workout may focus on short bursts of sprinting for 30 seconds followed by a light jog and then steady walking. Our list of the best running watches has multiple choices that can help track your intervals.
The benefits of interval running on a treadmill include the development of a time efficient fitness regime and the potential to burn a large amount of calories within this time scale.
Some benefits of interval running on a treadmill are:
- Burn more calories in less time: High-intensity interval training has been discovered to be much more effective than regular running, with participants burning 25-30% more calories than a regular workout.
- Increased metabolic rate after interval exercise: Interval training can often result in greater metabolic activity, which can cause your body to expend energy much quicker for up to 24 hours
- Helps to burn fat: As you might have expected, completing periods of high intensity exercise, balanced out by short rest periods, can have a drastic effect on calorie and fat burning.
Ultimately, the benefits of interval running on a treadmill provide the perfect method of exercise that will help you lose weight quickly.
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#8 - Aids Muscle Gain and Toning
Typically, the benefits of running on a treadmill are seen to be a great way to lose weight and work on your cardio. However, treadmills are also suitable for toning and strengthening muscles. Think about it… when you run, you don’t just use your legs, but you also engage your entire body, particularly your core and arms!
Running on a treadmill may not be your first option when trying to gain muscle, however, studies explore how short distance running with variations of high intensity can help you to build leg muscle. For example, a high intensity interval training based study involving high intensity running displayed that after 10 weeks of workouts 3 times per week, there was an 11% increase in muscle fibers particularly at the front of the thigh.
Overall, it is evident that short distance high intensity running on a treadmill can aid muscle growth but long-distance running will support toning and contribute to weight loss.
We'd always recommend tailoring your running schedule to better accomplish your goals. For instance, if your overarching aim is to achieve muscle growth and strength, then it's a great idea to opt for more workouts that revolve around short distance, high intensity running.
Or, if you're looking to prioritise weight loss or toning, then longer distance but lower intensity running should be the workout you give precedence to.
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#9 - Improves Joint Flexibility
Ever heard someone say ‘running will damage your knees’ or ‘it’ll ruin your joints’? This is a common misconception that’s still widely held, but one of the main benefits of running on a treadmill is that it can include joint strengthening and flexibility.
By putting your joints and muscles through a regular range of motion (such as those achieved by running on a treadmill), you’ll become more flexible as your body gets used to the movements.
The stronger your joints, the less likely you are to experience trips and falls as you grow old. Now, while this might seem like it’s only beneficial for those who are older and may have weaker or deteriorated joints, it’s actually a health benefit of running on a treadmill that can be applied to anyone.
On the other hand, if you don’t take the right precautions when running on a treadmill, like allowing rest days, wearing suitable footwear and doing workouts that support you, you may develop joint problems. Our comprehensive guide to the benefits of flexibility training will give you the grounding to exercise safely and without worry!
That being said, if you follow the right measures, like with anything, benefits of running on a treadmill display the perfect way to improve joint strength and flexibility.
#10 - Helps to Build Bone Density
Is running on a treadmill easier when trying to build bone density? Similarly, to your joints, running on a treadmill can also contribute to an increase in overall bone density.
Bone density is the measure of minerals present in your bones, the higher the density, the healthier and stronger your bones. For example, osteoporosis is a condition where bone mass is decreased resulting in weak and brittle bones that easily break and can be painful when moving.
Running regularly will improve your bone density as high-impact exercise encourages bones to repair themselves more quickly. This results in the growth of bone tissue which essentially gives our skeleton structure and stability.
In addition, as treadmill’s provide supportive running platforms, they allow the opportunity to build bone density in the safest way possible no matter how old you are.
#11 - Helps with Rehabilitation and Care
When we ask, is running on a treadmill easier, this element is evident through the treadmill's role in injury rehabilitation and medical examination.
Treadmills provide a safe and secure exercise platform for people to use during periods of rehabilitation. In addition, as stated earlier, some treadmills are specifically designed with extra cushioning for an assisted environment, which is the ideal surface to build your confidence and get you back on track.
And keep yourself motivated with a stimulating soundtrack - our selection of the best bluetooth running headphones has a tune to suit every workout!
It is important however, to ensure that you set a manageable workout that builds strength back up rather than pushing yourself too hard. With the customisable nature of treadmill workouts, as well as the aforementioned smooth surface, it’s possible to do a lot more than you would be able to do outside.
However, always ensure you consult a medical professional before beginning a new training programme. At OriGym, we love to exercise, but it’s important to do so safely, and if anything ever feels uncomfortable, it’s crucial to stop immediately and seek out advice from your doctor.
#12 - Provides Race Course Simulation
For those who are training for an event, like a marathon, running on a treadmill can be a great way to prepare for course conditions. Settings on a treadmill allow you to replicate a running experience that will help you to conquer elements of a race track that you are not able to access until the day of the event.
For example, you may live in a flat area with a lack of hills. Rather than having to travel so you can access the appropriate terrain, you can hop on a treadmill and create a race-specific reality.
Certain treadmills even offer you the opportunity to save your route, so you can practice for a course of your design, or one that you intend to run in the future. And be prepared for when you do run that dream course with OriGym’s report on the best running gear, with everything from gilets to gloves.
It gets better! Other benefits of running on a treadmill include the ability to download real race course simulations that automatically adjust to imitate the track. One of the most well-known course simulations is the Boston marathon. As well as this, many treadmills come with pre-set exercise programmes that allow you to embody an authentic and progressive running experience.
#13 - Reduces Boredom
Some people believe that the advantages of running on a treadmill are limited, often being labelled as ‘boring’. However, with changes in behaviours during the pandemic and access to gyms becoming limited, the world of exercise is evolving, especially when it comes to technology and creating virtual realities.
Nowadays, the benefits of running on a treadmill are growing. With the development of interactivity, such as gaming and sensory elements, your favourite hobbies can be incorporated into your workout, maintaining motivation.
Not only can you now run along The Great Wall of China, up volcanoes or through New York City, you can also become part of a worldwide running community from the comfort of your home.
One game called ‘Zwift Run’ is an online multiplayer running /cycling game that allows people on treadmills across the world to join and run together to complete challenges and hit targets. You can even move up levels by completing challenges to earn points and rewards.
The endless benefits of running on a treadmill come with an even crazier game called ‘Zombies, Run!’. The game is everything you could imagine from a zombie themed running game and there’s one thing for sure- it’ll keep you running. Love it or hate it, there is something for everyone to do whilst running on a treadmill.
It is important to note however that there are risks that come with gaming, such as addiction, which can also contribute to dangerous and excessive training. If you ever feel as though running on a treadmill, for whatever reason, is becoming detrimental to your health, stop immediately and speak to your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Running on a Treadmill Good For You?
As we’ve just explored with our comprehensive section on the benefits of running on a treadmill, treadmill running is fantastic for you and your health.
Not only can it improve your heart and lung health (arguably two of the most important organs in the body), but the act of running has been proven to improve mental health, as well as strengthen bones and joints to help mitigate and even prevent injury.
It’s a superb option when it comes to cardio & aerobic exercises, raising your heart rate and challenging your body to keep going, which in turn improves your endurance and means you can run for longer periods of time.
Is Running On A Treadmill Better Than Running Outside?
Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a single, simple answer - it depends entirely on what you want to achieve, and what your personal preferences are when it comes to running.
When it comes to the health benefits of running on a treadmill, these are much the same as those you’d experience doing the same run outdoors - a boost to your mental and physical health, increased flexibility of your joints, and strengthening key muscles in your body.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each form of running, but ultimately this all comes down to personal preference - while you’re not constrained by the weather when you’re running on a treadmill, you also don’t get the benefit of sunshine when running in hot weather.
We’d recommend striking a balance between running on a treadmill and running outsider, and mixing up your weekly routine to incorporate both.
When Should I Use A Treadmill?
This is another question that’s usually answered by your personal preference.
It does, however, depend on a few deciding factors - for instance, if you don’t own a treadmill of your own, you won’t be able to exercise when the gyms are closed. Or, if you’re trying to fit running on a treadmill around your other workouts or a busy schedule, it can be tricky to fit it in.
However, as a general rule, we’d suggest trying to include running on a treadmill in your schedule at least two to three times a week.
This will not only allow you to compound the benefits we’ve discussed above, but it leaves time for rest and recuperation days. For more information on the importance of rest days, and how many to take, check out OriGym’s comprehensive overview.
Before You Go!
We really hope you enjoyed our article on what we feel are the key benefits of running on a treadmill. As you can see, treadmills offer endless benefits and features to turn a boring and dreary jog into a personalised, interactive and uplifting workout.
Ultimately, we’d argue that treadmills are an exciting part of the fitness world. With their endless evolutionary qualities and technological adaptability, we at OriGym truly believe that running on a treadmill is the route to your fitness goals.
Although, if you’ve already breezed past your goals, whether they’re running related or not, then perhaps a career in fitness is exactly what you’ve been looking for. OriGym’s REPS and CIMSPA certified personal training courses offer the complete package for those who are looking to progress with a job as a personal trainer.
Or, download our FREE course prospectus, and read more about what we offer, and how it could be ideal for you.
Written by Professional S & C Coaches
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Written by Professional S & C Coaches
- Cooper, K. H. (2013). Aerobics Program For Total Well-Being: Exercise, Diet , And Emotional Balance. United Kingdom: Random House Publishing Group.
- Oswald F, Campbell J, Williamson C, Richards J, Kelly P. A Scoping Review of the Relationship between Running and Mental Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(21):8059. Published 2020 Nov 1. doi:10.3390/ijerph17218059
- Kathryn B. Davis, Bernard Chaitman, Thomas Ryan, Vera Bittner, J. Ward Kennedy, Comparison of 15-year survival for men and women after initial medical or surgical treatment for coronary artery disease: A CASS registry study, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 25, Issue 5, 1995, Pages 1000-1009, ISSN 0735-1097
- Estes RR, Malinowski A, Piacentini M, et al. The Effect of High Intensity Interval Run Training on Cross-sectional Area of the Vastus Lateralis in Untrained College Students. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(1):137-145. Published 2017 Jan 1.