Is Running On A Treadmill Physically Bad For You?

Treadmills have become a good choice for gym rats and a wide variety of athletes mainly because you get to exercise indoors away from the weather elements. Many runners use treadmills in the wintertime when it’s next to impossible to get outside to exercise due to inclement weather. When training in different locations and using different gym equipment, the question often arises – Can running on a treadmill be physically bad for me?

No, running on a treadmill is not inherently bad for you. Running on a treadmill as part of a daily exercise routine will lead to better overall physical and emotional health. However, adding variety to your training such as changing the surfaces you run on, will allow your body to more easily adapt to varying terrains.

This article will cover the benefits and drawbacks of treadmill use, health issues that may arise from treadmill use, and a comparison of treadmill use to other forms of running and exercise.

What are the benefits of using a treadmill?

Walking or running on a treadmill comes with the great benefit of convenience. You do not need space or appropriate weather to run; you can just turn on the machine and get to it. In addition to convenience, a treadmill allows you to:

  • Avoid distractions so you can focus on running form.
  • Create reliable exercise routines.
  • Control your pace and incline.
  • Controlled environment; you will not worry about tripping on rocks.
  • Burn calories faster than when using most other home workout equipment.
  • Use extra features like heart rate monitors and how many calories you burn.

Related: 10 Tips To Make Treadmill Running Easier!

What are the drawbacks of using a treadmill?

Treadmills are not perfect machines. The fact that you use a machine for running innately comes with some drawbacks such as:

  • Treadmills require either a gym membership or the purchase of an expensive piece of equipment.
  • You can only use treadmills for walking and running which may lead to exercise boredom.
  • Too much running can lead to a variety of physical problems such as overtraining, however, this is not necessarily because of the treadmill.
  • If you buy a treadmill for your home, you will need to find a large space for it.
  • If you buy a treadmill for your home, you will need to hire a professional for maintenance.

When should I avoid running on the treadmill?

Avoid running on a treadmill if you currently experience moderate to severe joint pain in your knees, hips, or ankles. Avoid using a treadmill as you prepare for a long race as well.

Is it okay to run on a treadmill every day?

You should not do any kind of running every day. According to the Mayo Clinic, running every day will lead to overuse injuries. These injuries can include stress fractures, shin splints, and muscle tears.

Is running on a treadmill bad for my knees?

All forms of running can be bad for your knees if you have predisposed issues with your knees. If you stretch well, give time for breaks in between running days, and run with proper form, your knees should be okay. If you have chronic knee problems already, consider a different workout.

What are the key differences between running on a treadmill and running outside?

Whether you run outside or on a treadmill, you perform essentially the same exercise; however, there are some key differences.

  • Running outside involves many distractions that can take your mind off proper running form.
  • Running outside requires you to watch out for your footing.
  • Running on a treadmill involves keeping the rhythm created by the moving belt.
  • Running on a treadmill and running outside will create different gaits.
  • The track on a treadmill tends to pull your legs backward causing  you to use slightly different muscles
  • While running outside, your legs push you forward simulating a more realistic running experience (i.e. more like a road race)

Related: Treadmill Vs Outside Running – Which Is Better For Your Muscles?

Is running on a treadmill worth the risks?

Any form of regular exercise is worth the risk. According to The American Heart Association, need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. With appropriate stretching, breaks, and form, you will benefit from regular running, whether on a treadmill or outside.

What is the most efficient way to run on a treadmill?

When you run, do so in cycles of high-intensity speed and breaks for rest. Running at higher speeds for shorter amounts of time lowers the continual risk to your joints. Do not push yourself to the point of injury. Recovery will take away the progress you gain from pushing yourself too hard.

Should I walk on the treadmill?

Walking is not an efficient way to lose calories or exercise. You will spend much more time walking on a treadmill to gain the results you could gain from running.

Do not discount walking because of the above information! Efficiency is not everything. If you are new to exercise, walking will help immensely with getting your body in shape. Additionally, if you have joint problems or simply do not want to put your body at risk, walking is an excellent way of getting the recommended weekly minutes of exercise.

If you walk on your treadmill, you will also not need to take breaks between your walking days that you would for running. You could walk 30 minutes a day for five days a week and hit the 150-minute mark. Consider gradually increasing the incline for higher intensity.

Is it bad to eat before I run on the treadmill?

Though it is not generally a bad idea to eat before you run, you should avoid certain foods. In fact, if you run for extended periods of time (60-90 minutes), you should eat something a couple of hours before you run.

What should I eat before I run on the treadmill?

Look for lighter foods like bananas or toast. Avoid too much caffeine. Avoid high fiber foods. No matter how long you run, do not eat right before you jump on the treadmill. If you feel hunger pangs, allow them to be motivated to finish your workout.

Related: Does caffeine boost running performance? How much caffeine should I consume?

Is it bad to watch tv while on the treadmill?

No, watching tv while running on the treadmill will likely not cause problems. In fact, tv watching can provide an excellent distraction when you begin to feel the burn of your run. The primary considerations while watching tv during your workout are your form and ensuring that you do not push yourself too far. Do not start watching tv on a treadmill until you have some running experience behind you.

Should I buy my own treadmill or use one at the gym?

Whether you should invest in your own machine or in a monthly gym membership depends on your desires. If you purely want the convenience of running without going outside, consider owning your own treadmill. However, if you want to embrace a more active lifestyle, consider joining a gym. If you’re looking for a money-worthy treadmill that won’t bust your wallet and perform – check out this treadmill: Bowflex Treadmill T22 (Bowflex link) or the Bowflex Treadmill T10 (Amazon Link)

Related: 9 Treadmill Workouts To Perform When The Weather Outside Sucks!


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