Research has shown that treadmills allow you to work off nearly 400 calories in 30 minutes, which is more than you’d burn on almost any other cardio machine.
Treadmills also allow you to tailor your workout to your fitness goals by adjusting the speed and incline.
If you’re trying to tone your legs, you can walk at a steep angle.
But if you’re more focused on burning calories and getting in some cardio, you can turn the speed up and the incline down.
Treadmills also have cushioned belts, which makes them easier on your joints than running or walking on hard surfaces outside.
You won’t have to wait for a sunny day or good weather to use the treadmill either, so it can help you achieve your fitness goals faster than training outdoors.
There are clearly lots of benefits to using the treadmill. But what kind of results can you expect to see after a few weeks or months of regular workouts?
One of the first things you’ll notice after you start exercising on the treadmill is an improvement in your mood and energy levels. After a few weeks, you may also start losing weight if (and only if) you adjust your diet.
Another benefit you’ll experience quickly is increased lower body strength.
If you stick with your workouts for a few months, you’ll continue to gain muscle and definition in your legs. You may also drop more pounds if you keep eating a healthy diet.
Your cardiovascular endurance will increase over the long term, making your workouts easier. Your heart health and blood pressure will also likely improve, which can help protect you from serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes down the line.
To learn more about what kind of results you can expect from regularly working out on the treadmill, I spoke to several fitness experts. Keep reading to find out what they had to say.
If you’re looking to burn calories and lose weight, the treadmill is probably the best exercise machine you could use.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin measured how many calories participants burned on ten different cardio machines, including the treadmill, stair stepper, rower, elliptical, and recumbent bike.
Out of all of the machines, the treadmill scored the highest. Participants burned 378 calories on it in 30 minutes, compared to just 354 on the stair stepper and 303 on the elliptical.
The participants exercised at a moderate intensity, so you won’t have to run at a super fast pace to burn a significant amount of calories on the treadmill.
But you will have to alter your diet if you want to shed excess pounds.
Alec Hyde, Doctor of Physical Therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist with Complex Health and Wellness, told me:
“Weight loss occurs when calories burned are greater than calories consumed. Exercise may assist to expend more calories but we see in the current literature that diet accounts for roughly 80-90% of weight loss.”
So even though working out on the treadmill can help you burn some extra calories, you won’t lose weight unless you clean up your diet.
But if you do eat healthier and cut back on calories, you can expect to see weight loss pretty quickly, especially if you’re new to fitness.
“Weight loss is also a positive factor that is noticed quickly, especially for a beginner exerciser,” says Hannah Daugherty, certified NASM personal trainer with Fitter Living.
And if you stick with your workouts over the long term, you may keep losing weight.
Daugherty adds, “Weight loss will also continue as time goes on with treadmill training, so long as there is constant variability in the training program.”
If you keep doing the same treadmill workout and never increase the speed or incline, you may hit a plateau.
But as long as you mix up your workouts and keep challenging your body, the treadmill can help you improve your fitness and meet your weight loss goals.
Another benefit of treadmill workouts that you can expect to see pretty quickly is a boost in your mood.
According to Joshua Lipsey of Core Fitness, “Running can really improve your mood and energy levels because it activates endorphins that some people like to call ‘a runner’s high.’”
But there’s a reason why it’s called a runner’s high and not a walker’s high.
Research has shown that the amount of endorphins your body releases is dependent on the intensity of your workout.
Higher intensity workouts like running, jogging, and walking at a brisk pace release more endorphins than walking slowly.
So if you want to get a big mood boost, make sure your treadmill workouts are pushing your body.
(Of course, almost any form of regular exercise if bound to put you in a better mood in both the short and long term. So whatever you do, just get moving!)
Increased energy levels
In addition to boosting your mood, treadmill workouts can increase your energy levels.
One recent study found that doing 20 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio three times a week increased energy levels in patients with chronic fatigue by 50%.
Daugherty tells me that your focus and concentration will also improve after a few weeks of working out on the treadmill.
Regular exercise can even make it easier to get a good night’s sleep, she adds.
Cardio reduces your stress levels, making it easier to drift off at night.
It also increases the amount of time you spend in deep sleep, which will make you feel more rested in the morning.
Move over coffee!
Stronger leg muscles
Working out on the treadmill can help tone your lower body and get you ready for shorts season.
The treadmill will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, especially if you set it to a high incline.
And according to Carly James, an experienced fitness instructor with Fitness Authority, you won’t have to wait long to see visible results.
You could notice increased strength and muscle definition in your legs within the first few weeks of starting your new fitness routine.
You’ll also continue to make strength gains if you keep running on the treadmill over the long term, however, don’t expect powerlifter or bodybuilder legs solely from running. Instead, you’ll notice a sleek and athletic tone in your lower body.
But if you want to become a well-rounded athlete, it’s just as important to stretch your muscles as it is to strengthen them.
James adds, “You will continue to develop strength in your muscles and you want to avoid this becoming too much of a good thing, so make sure to incorporate stretches into your treadmill work and consider using your rest days for activities that promote flexibility.”
Although treadmill workouts have lots of benefits, it’s important to remember that they’re just one part of a balanced fitness routine.
Make sure you’re working other parts of your body like your arms and core and taking days off to let your muscles recover.
Increased endurance and better heart health
If you want to get in shape, running on the treadmill is a great way to do it.
Treadmill workouts condition your body, improve your heart health, and increase your overall endurance.
Going back to Daugherty:
“Over time and with increased intensity and/or duration, one will notice that there is an increase in the strength and endurance of the leg muscles, as well as an improvement in cardiovascular endurance.”
Treadmill workouts make your heart stronger and increase your cardiac output, or how well your heart pumps blood throughout your body.
Having a high cardiac output makes it easier to work out for long periods of time. That’s why exercising on the treadmill can help you train for a 5K or marathon.
Strengthening your heart also lowers your blood pressure, which can help protect you from serious health problems like heart attack and stroke down the road.
You can burn more calories on the treadmill than almost any other cardio machine, making it a fantastic choice for weight loss and general endurance.
But there are some results you might not see from working out on a treadmill:
If you’re trying to lose weight, exercising isn’t enough. You’ll have to adjust your diet and eat at a caloric deficit to see those extra pounds drop off.
Although walking on the treadmill at an incline can increase your core strength over time, it’s also not the best choice if you’re looking to get a six-pack.
If you want to increase your flexibility or tone your arms, you may be better off choosing a different type of workout, such as yoga, calisthenics, or weight training (hit those links to learn about the results you can expect to see from those workouts).
But if you’re looking to burn lots of calories, improve your mood and energy levels, and increase your overall cardiovascular fitness, the treadmill is a great option.
For more on treadmill workouts, don’t miss my easy pros and cons of running.
Hope this helped!