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How to Use a Treadmill Effectively

By Diane Lynn

A treadmill is a popular piece of exercise equipment you can use in your home or at the gym. Depending on how much you weigh, walking on a treadmill burns about 200 calories per 30 minutes, while running burns about 400 calories, according to the HealthStatus website's Calories Burned Estimator. Make the best use of your time by putting maximum effort into every workout.


  1. Decide whether you are exercising to lose weight or simply desire to improve your fitness level. If weight loss is your goal, plan on exercising three to five days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time. If improving your fitness level is your objective, concentrate on increasing the length and intensity of your exercise sessions. Always walk at a slow pace for the first five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles, and use hand weights during your workout to tone and strengthen your arms.

  2. According to the Go Ask Alice! section of Columbia University's website, when you deliberately pump your arms while walking, you will burn 5 percent to 10 percent more calories per session than if you walk with your arms down by your sides. When exercising, look straight ahead and engage your core abdominal muscles. Keep your body centered on the treadmill at all times.

  3. Use the pre-programmed workouts on the treadmill's console to meet your goals. Select a cardio workout if you are working on building your endurance, a calorie burn workout to get the maximum calorie expenditure from your workout and a speed workout to increase your pace. Walk or run using the incline feature to simulate hill work and burn calories at a faster rate. The treadmill belt's constant movement keeps you walking or running at a consistent speed even if you begin to feel tired.

  4. Interval training involves alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. Incorporate periods of interval training into your treadmill workout as interval training burns calories quickly and enables you build your endurance and fitness level at a faster rate. To add interval training into your workout, exercise at a regular pace for four minutes, and then use a burst of speed for one minute. During the burst of speed, you should be running or walking as fast as you can.

  5. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends a minimum of five to 10 minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise, combined with stretching, after a workout. Your cool-down period is important because it gives your muscles a chance to relax, enables your heart rate to return to normal and lets you adjust to walking more slowly before you stop the treadmill.

  6. Tip

    Wear properly fitted athletic shoes.

    Set distance and time goals for yourself.


    Check with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

    Attach the safety clip to your clothing so that if you fall, the treadmill will stop.

    Make sure the treadmill is working properly before using.

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