Treadmill benefits: 8 reasons to use a running machine to get fit

From joint health to recovery benefits, there are many reasons why you should consider getting a treadmill if you want to get fit

Women running on treadmills
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The not-so-humble treadmill is the most popular home gym equipment, and for a good reason: running is probably the most accessible sport to get into. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other in quick succession.

And while you don’t necessarily need a treadmill to start running, there are many reasons why you should get one of the best treadmills anyway. For one thing, the upcoming Black Friday treadmill deals will make finding a cheap one a doddle. Below you’ll find eight of these, which hopefully will convince you to get a treadmill and start exercising today.

1. Provides a controlled running environment

Running outdoors can be dangerous. You have to pay attention to the traffic, wait at traffic lights, dodge dogs/prems, avoid distractions, shield your eyes from the blazing sun… the list goes on. According to a 2015 report by the Department for Transport, “At 34 deaths per billion miles walked, pedestrians have a higher fatality rate than car occupants.” Not all pedestrians are runners, but the point is, being on the sidewalk is dangerous business, especially if you move fast.

Running on a treadmill can eliminate all of these distractions and make your running sessions much safer. You decide how long you want to run for and at what speed, as well as setting all the other parameters (e.g. incline). Treadmills can make running training more controlled and, therefore, effective.

2. Weather independent

One of the main distractions that often deter people from running outside is poor weather. It seems that whenever you decide to go for a jog in the park, it always starts raining. Worse still, the wind almost exclusively blows in the direction of your face, no matter where you’re headed.

You don’t have to worry about any of this when you clock the miles up on a treadmill. No rain or wind can stop you on a treadmill. If it gets too warm, you can always crack open a window or turn the AC on. There is no stopping you.

3. Better for the joints

Modern running shoes are fully cushioned to mitigate the impact force of hard landings, no matter how forcefully you slam your foot down as you run. Nevertheless, running on the tarmac will never be a joint-friendly activity: it’s a firm and unforgiving surface, not well-suited for people with joint issues.

On the other hand, the cushioned running decks of treadmills are better for joint health and make treadmills quieter so you won’t drive the downstairs neighbours crazy. If you do have joint issues, our best supplements for joints contain plenty of anti-inflammatories that can make running more comfortable.

Man running on treadmill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Improves cardiovascular health

Treadmill running is excellent for cardio health. In line with WHO guidelines, the NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week. 150 minutes of low-intensity exercising a week equates to 30 minutes of power walking or jogging on a treadmill, something you can do while catching up on the news in the early evening.

5. Easier than road running

When running on the road, you have to constantly push yourself forward, unlike when you’re on a treadmill, in which case you only have to ‘keep up’ with the belt. The movement is very similar, but you will indeed be able to hit higher speeds on a treadmill which can do wonders for your motivation levels.

6. Workout libraries and simulations

Fancy running on the Great Wall of China? Maybe you’d like to visit the Grand Canyon in the US or even the Sahara Desert in Africa? You can experience running around the world without stepping outside your front door, thanks to content libraries available on iFit, Peloton, JRNY and more.

What’s more, most apps provide structured workouts that can turn boring treadmill sessions staring at the wall into a fun activity. Not to mention, it will help you get fit in the process, too.

7. Workout programmes are better for progression

For beginner runners, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is to get the pacing right. Most people will start running too fast and get out of breath quickly, eventually making them unmotivated to keep on running. It’s just too hard!

Treadmills can help ease yourself into running by adjusting the tempo for you and offering tailored workouts designed specifically to get people to run more efficiently. You can’t go faster than how fast the belt is spinning under your feet, forcing you to take it easy until you get better at running and able to manage the pace yourself.

8. Great for recovery

Running is a great activity, but it can also be dangerous. According to Yale Medicine, “at least 50% of regular runners get hurt each year—some estimates put the percentage even higher—sometimes from trauma, such as a fall, but more often from overuse.”

This could be the result of the incorrect pacing mentioned above and the fact that runners lie to run, even when they shouldn’t. Keeping a keen eye on your heart rate on the treadmill’s console can prompt you when you’re putting too much strain on your body. Not to mention the structured workout programmes available on most smart treadmills will weave rest days into the schedule so you don’t have to guess when to take time off.

Matt Kollat

Matt has been writing about fitness for a number of years across various Future titles including Fit&Well and T3. PR reps describe him as 'nice guy' but his family members beg to differ. He's always looking for new ways to improve his overall fitness and wellbeing, and is particularly fond of home workout - mainly lifting weights. At any given point, his home is overrun with fitness equipment, running shoes and wearables. And he loves it.