Are Treadmills Good For Weight Loss? (& Plan)

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Treadmills are a classic choice for people who are trying to lose weight. Find out how effective this piece of equipment actually is.

To lose weight, you need to get to a point where you need more energy than is coming in from the foods you eat.

Since treadmills help you use up more energy than usual, you can say that they are good for weight loss.

Running on a treadmill is even one of the most effective ways for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

Another benefit of this machine is that it allows you to work out inside. This makes it so things like the weather influence your workouts to a lesser extent.

On the flip side, it is important to note that running on a treadmill can be challenging for your ankles, knees, and back. Especially if you have a few extra pounds to lose.

If you are sensitive to injuries you likely want to start with the less effective treadmill walking or other exercise alternatives.

Additionally, if you don’t have your own treadmill, you will have to spend the time and money on going to your local gym.

Can you lose weight by using a treadmill?

Before going into the details, it is worth quickly noting that you can lose weight by using a treadmill but that there are conditions. You will not always see fat loss results from using this machine.

The main principle you want to keep in mind is that losing weight requires you to make it so your body needs more energy than is coming in from the things you eat.

In a situation like that, your body turns to energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs.

No matter whether it is walking or running, using a treadmill can help in this weight loss process.

The reason for that is that these forms of exercise are more intense than standard daily activities. In turn, they will require more energy from your body.

This makes it more likely that you get into the situation described above. Additionally, it can make the energy difference bigger which would allow you to get more results faster.

At the same time, the principle above also means that using a treadmill every day will not necessarily always help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Your habits in other areas like your diet still need to be good enough. A few suboptimal meals can undo a lot of treadmill workouts.

Calories burned on the treadmill compared to other exercises

The treadmill fact that you can use this machine to burn more energy is not the only detail that matters.

You likely also want to know how it compares to other exercises since you only have so much time to work out.

To do this, you can look at estimations of how many calories certain ways of using the treadmill and other activities burn.

You should not take these numbers too precisely in terms of what weight loss results you can expect. However, the estimations can still be helpful for comparison purposes.

Some of these estimations for a 185-pound (84 kg) person doing certain activities for 30 minutes include (1):

  • Walking 3.5 mph (on a treadmill): 159 calories
  • Walking 4 mph (on a treadmill): 189 calories
  • Running 5 mph (on a treadmill): 336 calories
  • Running 6 mph (on a treadmill): 420 calories
  • Running 7.5 mph (on a treadmill): 525 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 168 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 168 calories
  • Stair Step Machine (general): 252 calories
  • Swimming (general): 252 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 294 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 294 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 378 calories
  • Jumping rope (fast): 503 calories

While there are impressive treadmill alternatives too, this machine definitely has the potential to help you burn a lot of calories and lose a lot of weight.

At the same time, it is worth noting that the intensity of your treadmills workouts will influence your results a lot.

There is clearly a big difference between walking at 3.5 mph and running at 6 mph in terms of how much weight these treadmill workouts can help you lose.

Is the treadmill good for losing belly fat?

Burning calories and losing weight are great but many people also have more specific goals like losing some fat around their stomach.

You want to know that it is generally not possible to choose in significant amounts from what areas you use body fat.

This is not only the case for treadmills but other gym machines for weight loss and other workouts too.

That being said, it is still possible to burn the fat from this area. To do this, you have to lose enough body fat overall.

As you make this happen more and more, your body will use more and more of the fat in this area.

In simpler words, using the treadmill can be good for losing belly fat but your efforts will typically not focus on this area alone.

Additionally, losing a lot of belly fat with workouts alone tends to be challenging. If this is your goal, you likely want to consider making changes in other lifestyle areas too.

How long should you go on a treadmill to lose weight?

By now you likely understand that the treadmill can benefit your fat loss progress a lot. It is only normal that you then want to know how long you should use this cardio equipment option.

Before giving some rough estimations, it is worth noting that your actual weight loss results can vary. Your habits in areas like nutrition can influence these a lot.

That being said, if you assume all the extra calories you burn with the treadmill will come from body fat, you can get a few interesting numbers.

A 185-pound (84 kg) person who runs 5 mph (8 kmh) on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week for two weeks will burn an extra 2016 calories or about 0.58 pounds (0.25 kg) of body fat.

If the same person keeps up the same treadmill workout plan for a month (four weeks), they will burn an extra 4032 calories or about 1.15 pounds (0.5 kg) of body fat.

One pound of body fat is around 3500 calories (one kg +-8000).

With this and the calorie-burning estimations above you can estimate for yourself how long you should go on a treadmill to lose certain amounts of weight.

Something important to keep in mind is that as you lose weight, your treadmill workouts will burn less energy. To keep seeing the same weight loss results, you likely need to implement more positive changes.

Example treadmill weight loss plans for beginners

Even if beginners understand that treadmills can help them move toward their weight loss goals, actually getting started can feel confusing.

While you can find two beginner-friendly example treadmill weight loss plans below, keep in mind that you should not overcomplicate the process.

Contrary to weight lifting exercises, the conditions for seeing results with cardiovascular workouts are not as strict.

That being said, here is an example walking treadmill weight loss workout:

  • Walk 3.5 mph (5.6 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Walk 5 mph (8.1 kmh) for 1 minute
  • Walk 4 mph (6.4 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Walk 4 mph (6.4 kmh) on a 7% incline for 1 minute
  • Walk 4 mph (6.4 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Repeat starting at the 5 mph walking for 3 to 6 sets

Next, many people are also interested in running treadmill weight loss workouts. Here is an example of this:

  • Run 5 mph (8.1 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Run 8.5 mph (13.7 kmh) for 1 minute
  • Run 4 mph (6.4 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Run 4 mph (6.4 kmh) on a 6% incline for 1 minute
  • Run 4 mph (6.4 kmh) for 2 minutes
  • Repeat starting at the 8.5 mph running for 2 to 4 sets

This HIIT treadmill running can make things more interesting but using the machine at a moderate pace for a certain amount of minutes can be effective too.

What is the best time to walk on a treadmill to lose weight?

More and more people are realizing that the timing of certain lifestyle habits like working out can have an impact on the results you get.

Unfortunately, the research on morning vs evening workouts is not that precise yet. Especially for people who are trying to lose weight.

That being said, there is still something to say about the timing of your treadmill workouts for this purpose.

The best time to walk or run on a treadmill to lose weight is somewhere that is not the two to four hours before you go to sleep.

Exercising too close to bedtime, especially in the bright lights of a gym, can reduce the quality and duration of your sleep. This is not helpful for weight loss.

How often should you use the treadmill to lose weight?

Another question is how often you should do the example treadmill workouts above when trying to lose weight.

The main thing to keep in mind is that running on a treadmill can be challenging for your ankles, knees, and back. Especially if you are trying to lose weight.

People who are injury sensitive likely want to start with only one or two treadmill workouts a week. Potentially choosing walking over running.

If that goes well for you, you can consider using the treadmill more often for more weight loss results. Pay attention to any signs of overtraining and adapt your workouts if needed.

Lastly, how often someone actually needs to use the treadmill to see weight loss results depends a lot on their habits in other areas like their diet.

Should you choose the treadmill for weight loss?

When it comes to calorie-burning potential, the treadmill can be a great choice for losing weight. Especially if you can use it for running.

Additionally, because you are walking or running inside, you are not really dependent on the weather for your workouts. This can be a helpful benefit of treadmills depending on where you live.

On the other hand, it is important to note that running on the treadmill can be challenging for your body. Especially for people who are trying to lose weight.

If you get injured, the amount of exercise you can do goes down a lot.

Additionally, walking on the treadmill is not always the most effective weight loss workout. At least not compared to certain alternatives.

So whether treadmills or other cardio equipment or workouts are better when trying to lose weight depends on a few details.

Something else to note is that it can be smart to implement resistance training exercises to build muscle no matter what cardiovascular workouts you choose.

The extra muscle mass will increase the results you get from your treadmill workouts and helps you burn more calories throughout the rest of the day.

Lastly, keep in mind that your habits in areas like your diet will influence the weight loss results you get from using a treadmill. Suboptimal habits in these areas can undo a lot of your efforts.


Can you lose weight by being on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day?

If you are currently at a weight loss plateau and only exercise more, you can lose weight, at least initially, by being on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day. Over time, you may need to implement other changes too.

What is a good speed to walk on a treadmill to lose weight?

A good speed to walk on a treadmill to lose weight is basically as fast as possible without getting injured. Additionally, you may like certain walking speeds more than others which matters too.

How much weight can you lose on a treadmill in a week?

As an example, a 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn an extra 864 calories by running 5 mph (8.1 kmh) on a treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week. If all of these calories would come from fat, this person would lose about 0.25 pounds (0.11 kg) of weight.

Is 20 minutes on the treadmill enough to lose weight?

With good habits in other lifestyle areas, 20 minutes on the treadmill could be enough to lose a bit of weight. That being said, these other habits will influence your weight loss results a lot.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.