How Long Should I Run or Walk on the Treadmill?


Treadmills allow you to get aerobic exercise from running or walking while remaining indoors, but you may be unsure about how long you should run or walk on your treadmill to get a complete workout. At gyms you will see some people spending anything from five minutes to several hours on a treadmill. The length of time you need to spend depends on your fitness goals and current level of fitness.

Warm Up and Cool Down

  • Any treadmill workout should begin with a five-minute warm-up period. Set the speed between 1 and 3 miles per hour. You should walk more quickly than a leisurely stroll, but not quickly enough to break a sweat. The warm-up period transitions your muscles into the more intense part of your workout. Doing this will greatly reduce the likelihood of getting a muscle injury while running.

    After you are done with the main part of your workout, you should spend another five minutes at the speed of your warm-up. This is the cool-down period. The cool-down period helps transition your muscles back into everyday use and reduces the chances of aches, cramps and strains.

    As you become a faster runner, you may wish to increase the speed of the treadmill during the warm-up and cool-down periods. This is okay as long as the speed remains slow relative to your main workout. You also can spend slightly shorter or longer periods on the warm-up and cool-down. Try not to go below three minutes for each, and increase as your main run gets longer.


  • The most important element of getting in shape from treadmill use is the intensity with which you run. A 20-minute run at your top speed will do more to get you in shape than an hourlong speed walk at 3 miles per hour.

    When you first begin using treadmills, work on being able to run for a solid 20 minutes in addition to the warm-up and cool-down periods. At first you may not be able to maintain a run for this long at any speed, so if necessary you can switch back and forth between walking and running. Try spending two minutes walking, followed by two minutes running, and alternating between the two. As this becomes easier, reduce the amount of time spent walking and increase the length of the running periods. Eventually you will be able to run for the full 20 minutes.

    After you have achieved a 30-minute workout with 20 minutes of running, you can work on increasing the amount of time you spend on the treadmill. Increase the length of your workout slowly, five minutes every other week. If you don't want to work out for longer, increase your speed instead.

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