A guide to treadmills

If your goals include general fitness, weight loss, or building up stamina, then a treadmill makes a great choice – and they’re really easy to use for people of all ages.

Choosing the right treadmill

There are two main types of treadmill:

  • Manual treadmills - 'pushed' by your feet, and are quite basic.
  • Motorised treadmills - offer more options including inclines and heart monitors

Not only can treadmills be used for running, but they can also be set on lower speeds for walking on the flat or at an incline to mimic a hill.  Not all treadmills have variable inclines, so look out for ones that have 3 or more levels.

LCD screens

The display is an LCD digital readout giving you useful information – your running speed, total distance travelled, time and so on. The console controls, usually surrounding the display, let you switch the display to the numbers you’re most interested in and enter or change the programme.

Treadmill speed

All treadmills have a maximum speed. If you’re starting out, a machine that goes up to 12 kilometres an hour (about 7.5 mph) will be fine. As you get fitter, try one that can take you up to 14 or 16kph – if you’re training for an event, you might even want to push it to 18kph.

Making space for your treadmill

Measure up before you choose your treadmill. In general, allow at least the same space as a single bed, with half a metre or so on each side to make sure your elbows aren’t hitting the walls as you run. Also check that you have enough space to get it around tricky doors and stairwells.

What else do I need?

Add some good trainers and sportswear and you’re ready to start enjoying your treadmill – but remember if you want to exercise your upper body and back you’ll need to add some press-ups and sit-ups, or invest in one of our home gyms.

Jargon buster

Treadmill terms explained.


Belt The ‘track’ of the treadmill
Console The controls on the front panel of the treadmill
Display The digital readout on the front panel of the treadmill
Frame The structure, usually a metal tube that all the moving parts of the treadmill attach to
Heart monitor A sensor that takes your pulse and displays it for you
Incline The tilt of the conveyor belt surface that simulates uphill running
Manual A treadmill you operate by pushing the conveyor belt with your feet.  Some manual treadmills contain magnets to make it move more smoothly
Motorised A treadmill containing electric motors that move and tilt the track for you as you walk or run
Programmes Different workouts available on a motorised treadmill
Surface The top side of the conveyor, i.e. the part you run or walk on


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