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How Long Should I Walk On a Treadmill?

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David J. Sautter post Reviewer David J. Sautter post Reviewer
Verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

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You’re not alone if you’ve asked yourself at least once in your life, “How long should I walk on a treadmill to get the results I want?”

Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise, yet it is still surrounded by plenty of confusion. We want to make it easier for people to design an appropriate walking routine!

In this article, we break down everything you need to know about walking on a treadmill, including how fast you should walk and how long you should walk, depending on your goals. 

How to Calculate Time to Spend on a Treadmill

The amount of time required to walk on a treadmill differs widely among people as it depends on several parameters, including the following:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Body weight
  • Fitness experience
  • Fitness goals

Before we dive into this guide on treadmill walking, we want to discuss one of the most important pieces of information that you’ll need to tailor your workouts to what will work best for you.

That piece of information is your maximum heart rate (MHR).

What is the Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)?

Your MHR is the highest number of times your heart should beat in one minute during physical activity.

Knowing your MHR can help you determine how hard you should push yourself while exercising, or in this case, walking on a treadmill. 

How to Calculate Your MHR?

To calculate your MHR, simply subtract your age from 220. 

For example, if you’re 30 years old, your MHR would be 190 beats per minute (220 – 30 = 190). 

Once you know your MHR, you can use it to determine the intensity of your workout sessions on a treadmill.

Continuing with the example above, let’s say the workout asks you to perform at 50% to 60% of your MHR. Once you have calculated your MHR, you can multiply that number by 0.5 or 0.6 to get 50% or 60% of your maximum heart rate.

  • 190 x .5 = 95
  • 190 x .6 = 114

Your heart rate should be between 95 and 114 while working out.

Now that you know how to calculate your maximum heart rate, let’s get to it!

How Long Should You Be On a Treadmill? Let’s Look at Your Goal

From warm-up to workout, here are some guidelines to help you understand how long you should walk on a treadmill based on this information. [1]

time you should spend on a treadmill depending on your goal, to warm up, cardio, weight loss, walking 10 thousand steps, how long should i walk on a treadmill


Ideally, warm-ups should last between 5 to 10 minutes to get the blood flowing to the muscles without impairing energy levels or fitness performance. [2]

Within this time frame, aim to walk at a speed that enables your heart to achieve 50-60% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).

That will be the heart rate range you should sustain during your warm-up. To facilitate this, you can simply place your hands on the heart rate monitor of the treadmill you’re using. 

However, if you’re walking outside or the treadmill doesn’t have an HR monitor, you can wear a wrist or a chest heart monitor. 

Workout Goal: Endurance

If you want to have an effective cardio session to help improve your overall cardiovascular endurance, you should walk on a treadmill for a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week.

In terms of your heart rate, aim for brisk walking or maintain a pace that raises your heart rate to 64-76% of your MHR. [1]

Workout Goal: Weight Loss

To lose weight, you should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, which equals 30 minutes a day, five days a week

However, increasing the daily walking time to 35 minutes is even more effective in reducing body fat. [3] [4]

Related article: How Many Minutes of Exercise Per Week is Good?

Workout Goal: 10,000 Steps a Day

How long you should walk on a treadmill to hit your daily 10,000-step goal depends on your height (due to stride and step length), gender, and pace. 

For instance, a 160 cm tall person walking at 4 mph would take 75 minutes to achieve 10,000 steps, with an average of 134 steps per minute. 

On the other hand, a 180 cm tall person would take around 80 minutes to attain the same result, with an average step count of 125 steps per minute. 

Moreover, the first person would only walk 5.05 miles, compared to the latter, who would walk 5.35 miles to achieve the same step count due to a broader leg stance when stepping forward.  [5] [6]

Is Walking on the Treadmill 30 Minutes a Day Enough?

Walking for 30 minutes daily is sufficient to meet the minimum recommended guidelines as long as certain principles are applied, but in general, more is better.

Although the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, that is just the minimum. They explicitly mention that 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week – one hour per day, five days per week – is much preferable.

Walking on a treadmill is good for you, but you must consider the speed and the distance walked, as that can determine the magnitude of its impact on your health. 

In fact, the more miles you walk within 30 minutes, the greater the benefits. [7] 

On this note, you could use a walking app to make it easier to schedule your walks and keep track of your progress. 

How Fast Should You Walk On a Treadmill?

Depending on the pace you sustain, walking on a treadmill can be used to warm up, train your cardiovascular system, or reduce body fat. Below, we outline how fast you should walk on a treadmill, depending on your goal.


When warming up, start with a lower pace and increase it slowly across a time frame of 5 to 10 minutes until the target heart rate for your warm-up is achieved. 

As each individual has different training levels, the pace required to achieve this varies, although generally, a warm-up walking pace should be between 1.0 and 4.5 mph. [8]

Walking Pace for Cardio

To train your cardiovascular system and strengthen your heart and lungs, you should aim to attain a brisk walking pace of a minimum of 4 mph. 

Research has shown that brisk walking for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, is beneficial for lowering cardiovascular risk factors. [9]

Walking Pace for Fat Loss

As the number of calories burned highly depends on your body weight and the pace you sustain, the faster you walk means, the more calories you burn. 

For instance, a 25-year-old who weighs 75 kg and walks at 2 mph for 30 minutes would burn approximately 76 calories, while the same person would burn 163 calories in the same time frame if the pace was increased to 3.5 mph.

This is because the faster the pace, the more mileage walked, and hence, the more calories burned.

Having said that, studies show that the ideal pace for losing weight should range between 3 and 3.5 mph, as faster paces result in lower fat loss rates. [10] [4]

Why Is It Harder For Some People To Walk On a Treadmill?

Sometimes, exercising indoors can be more difficult for a number of reasons. Below you can find a few explanations as to why it is harder to walk on a treadmill compared to walking outside.  

Impact on Mental Health

Some people opt for walking outdoors in nature compared to walking on a treadmill, as the former was shown to have a greater positive impact on mental health. [11]

Related article: Walking Outside vs. on a Treadmill: Differences, Weight Loss & Injury Risk

Perception of Outdoor vs. Indoor Environments

While walking on a treadmill usually entails exercising indoors and hence being surrounded by other people, furniture, and fitness equipment, some people find it more motivating and pleasant to walk outside as they prefer exercising in nature or open environments.

Lack of Breeze

Walking outside enables individuals to regulate their body temperature better, especially if walking at fast paces, as a breeze will help cool down the whole body. 

Treadmills tend to have integrated fans, although they are usually rather small, and their placement only allows air to reach the face. 

Bad Joints

Some people may suffer from joint problems, particularly knee pain, and walking on a treadmill that doesn’t have good shock absorption can further intensify the discomfort. 

Related article: Are Treadmills Bad for Your Knees?

However, walking on an incline or outdoors is usually favored by people who suffer from this problem. In particular, walking on non-asphalted tracks is generally more gentle on the knees due to higher shock absorbance, and it can actually make them stronger by subjecting them to various ground consistencies and gradients. [12] [13]

Final Words

Walking on a treadmill is good for you as it certainly enables you to get fit and meet the recommended physical activity levels. However, it’s important to use precise metrics to obtain good results and gain health benefits from this activity.

  • Walking on a treadmill 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve your health and strengthen the lungs and heart, as long as you maintain the appropriate cadence and speed.  
  • You can use your heart rate as an indicator of exercise intensity as long as you know your maximum heart rate (MHR). This is calculated using the following formula: 220 – age in years. 
  • To warm up, you should walk for 5 to 10 minutes at a speed that enables you to reach 50-60% of your MHR. That usually requires a pace that varies from 1 to 4.5 mph, depending on your fitness level.
  • If you want to strengthen your cardiovascular system, you should walk briskly for 30 to 60 minutes at a minimum pace of 4 mph or at a pace that maintains your heart rate between 64-76% of your MHR.
  • To lose body fat, aim for a slower pace ranging between 3 and 3.5 mph for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • The amount of time it takes to achieve 10,000 steps varies among individuals and depends on the person’s height, gender and pace, although it is likely to require more than 60 minutes a day. 
  • Some people may not like walking on a treadmill due to lack of diversity in the surrounding environment, joint pain, lack of breeze, or decreased beneficial effect on mental health. In this case, walking outdoors can be a good alternative. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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