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The treadmill is a great option for a cardio workout no matter if your fitness level is an absolute beginner or someone who is training for their next marathon. Treadmill workouts have also been proven1 to be just as impactful as running outside, so it’s time to not only fit them into your training program, but also find ways to enjoy your time on the treadmill.

We know that some have termed this popular exercise machine the “dreadmill.” That’s why we are here with eight tips for how to make treadmill running fun.

10 Ways to Enjoy Your Treadmill Workout

One of the first things you need to do is to make sure you are going into your treadmill workout or training program with a positive mindset. One 2016 study2 found that if you believe that you are able to complete a workout, then your attitude towards that workout will be more positive. So put on your positive mind cap and use the following eight options to bring more joy to your time on the treadmill.

1. Set Goals

Stepping onto a treadmill can feel very daunting if you don’t have a plan of what you want to do once you get going. Maybe you want to participate in some outdoor running at your next local 5K or join a run club after you gain some confidence and stamina. Maybe walking for 5 minutes currently gets you out of breath and you want to work up to being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. 

Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself and work on building up to where you want to be. Knowing that you’re working for something specific is a fun way to make treadmill training more rewarding. Write these down somewhere you can see them every day. Track your progress. Write down where you’re struggling. Work on finding solutions to get you closer to your goals. 

2. Listen to Music

With so many options available at your fingertips to create great playlists, listening to music is one of the easiest (and least expensive) ways you can enjoy your treadmill workout. Whether you use Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or something else, you have the ability to bring the right beats to every type of treadmill workout. 

RELATED: Best Workout Playlists on Spotify

An image of a man running on the AssaultRunner Elite treadmill

According to Center4Research3, listening to music while completing a workout can improve the overall experience, which can in turn make sure you come back for more at another time. This is also a great option when you are preparing for multiple types of workouts.

 Are you going to be doing an easy jog? Create a playlist with some lighter beats and a more laid-back flow. Looking to run faster? Build that playlist with songs that you can match the beat to your stride. Using the treadmill for a warmup, cooldown or just wanting to walk off some stress? Get a list of songs together that reaches into your heart and soul and gets you to a more peaceful state of mind.

3. Catch Up On Your Favorite Podcasts or Audiobooks

Multitasking during your treadmill time to catch up on those podcasts or audiobooks you have been meaning to listen to is another great way to enjoy your treadmill more. The time can seem to go by much quicker when you’re focused more on listening to a great conversation or learning something new than if you’re just staring at your monitor wondering if you’ve completed 3 miles yet! 

A few top Podcast options geared toward runners include:

Not interested in hearing about running while you’re running? Find a topic that interests you and you’ll be surprised how fast the typical monotony of a treadmill workout seems to fade away once you’re thinking about something else.

4. Download an App

Another way to improve your treadmill experience is to download an app that is geared toward treadmill running workouts. 

A few of the most well-known options are: 

The list could go on for days. Some apps can even help you prepare for marathon training, complete treadmill sessions that will help with weight loss, and offer running tips to make sure you are getting the most efficient results for your time and effort. 

RELATED: Best Treadmill App

5. Mix It Up

Does the idea of being on a treadmill for 30 minutes to an hour seem to overwhelm you to the point that you choose to not do anything? Try mixing in some treadmill speed training (sprints), incline treadmill workouts, or other forms of high-intensity interval training sessions (HIIT). 

Man running on treadmill

If you are using your treadmill for a warm-up, you could also add some lunges and shuffles into your routine to make sure you have all of the muscles fired up and ready to prevent injury. There’s no reason to think a treadmill workout has to be just running forever. The point of a treadmill is to help build overall cardiovascular health. Mixing low-intensity or LISS cardio with HIIT can be very beneficial for your body.

RELATED: 30 Minute Treadmill Workout

6. Invest in Quality Running Shoes

There is nothing that will get you out of a treadmill routine faster than having feet that hurt, or even worse, an injury. Treadmills do offer a lower impact than some outside surfaces, but your feet still need to be supported. 

Knowing how to choose your running shoes is key. While you can read reviews to get an idea of what you might like, it is best to go to a store where you can be properly fitted and try shoes on that will work the most efficiently for your gait and training needs. 

7. Walk Backwards

Have you ever tried backward (or retro) walking? Walking and jogging backward on a treadmill has a few surprising benefits, including improving your coordination, reducing low back and knee pain, enhancing your cognition, and targeting different muscles moving forward. Additionally, the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activity4 found that walking backward burns 40% more calories per minute at a speed of 3.5 MPH.

Person walking backward on a treadmill

To walk backward, start by walking forward and then slowly turning around and leading with the ball of your foot and then your heel as step. Some folks prefer to do their backward walking outdoors, but if you’re new to this method, you’ll want to start at a slow pace and uses the treadmill’s handrails for support. Try alternating between forward and backward walking and one you’ve mastered that, you can progress to a light jog.

8. Stream and Move

With digital streaming and addictive TV shows all around us it’s easy to find yourself vegging out on the couch for hours at a time. Adding a treadmill session the next time you start binge-watching your favorite series is a great multitasking opportunity. 

Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, or a host of other options out there, time will feel like it’s flying by when you get sucked into the storyline of your favorite show. This is also a great option in the middle of your favorite sports season. Turn your game on, hop on your treadmill and use all of that built-up adrenaline to cheer on your team and move your body! 

You could even cover up the monitor on the front of the treadmill and surprise yourself with how far you can walk/jog/or run during that timespan.

9. Incorporate Weights Into Your Treadmill Routine

Pick up a pair of dumbbells—the lighter, the better—and add some extra resistance training to your treadmill session. You’ll build your upper body strength, maximize your training time by combining strength and cardio, and boost your overall calorie burn (if weight loss is your goal).

Need help getting started? Here are a few treadmill dumbbell workouts you can try.

10. Pick the Right Treadmill For You

There is a wide variety of machines on the market, and finding the best treadmill for your home gym that will work best for your body and your goals will go a long way in keeping your treadmill routine moving smoothly. 

There are some that are as basic as they come and will work for someone just looking for simple movement. There are others out there that include their own built-in training plans, or some like the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 that can track your heart rate and provide classes with your own personal trainer.

woman walking horizon 7.0 treadmill

Also consider factors like: 

  • Do you need incline and decline options?
  • Do you want all the conveniences, like a cooling fan and Bluetooth speakers?
  • Are you using the treadmill for running or walking?

Knowing what to look for in a treadmill will help ensure you get the features to make your workout more enjoyable.

How to Make Treadmill Running Fun: FAQs

How can I enjoy running on a treadmill?

Running on a treadmill is like a lot of things in life: It’s what you make it. Creating a positive mindset, finding a treadmill you enjoy running on, creating fun playlists that fit the mood of your workout, learning a new perspective on a topic with your favorite podcasts, and investing in a comfortable pair of running shoes are all great options to help you enjoy running on a treadmill more.

How do I stop being bored on the treadmill?

Work on your mindset. Find an app that helps to spur your creativity with different treadmill workouts. Cover up the monitor on the front of the treadmill so you aren’t counting every last tenth of a mile and second that passes by. Turn on your favorite show and place your treadmill in the middle of your living room. Get your focus off of being on the treadmill and onto something more satisfying.

How do you spice up a treadmill workout?

Treadmill workouts don’t have to be mundane. There are so many different options you can throw in to spice up your next treadmill workout. Experiment with different inclines and programs your treadmill might already have preloaded on it. Add in some lunges or HIIT intervals into your training session. Challenge yourself to see how fast you can go for a set amount of time. Add in some Pilates or dance break sessions to keep your muscles loosened up.

Find what sparks joy in you and add that to your next treadmill workout. 

References

  1. Van Hooren, B., Fuller, J.T., Buckley, J.D. et al. Is Motorized Treadmill Running Biomechanically Comparable to Overground Running? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cross-Over Studies. Sports Med 50, 785–813 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01237-z
  2. Sudeck G, Schmid J, Conzelmann A. Exercise Experiences and Changes in Affective Attitude: Direct and Indirect Effects of In Situ Measurements of Experiences. Front Psychol. 2016 Jun 16;7:900. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00900. PMID: 27378992; PMCID: PMC4909746.
  3. Markell, J. (2020, July 21). Can listening to music improve your workout?. National Center for Health Research. https://www.center4research.org/can-listening-music-improve-workout/
  4. AINSWORTH, BARBARA E.1,2; HASKELL, WILLIAM L.3; HERRMANN, STEPHEN D.1,2; MECKES, NATHANAEL1,2; BASSETT, DAVID R. JR.4; TUDOR-LOCKE, CATRINE5; GREER, JENNIFER L.1,2; VEZINA, JESSE1,2; WHITT-GLOVER, MELICIA C.6; LEON, ARTHUR S.7. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: A Second Update of Codes and MET Values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 43(8):p 1575-1581, August 2011. | DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31821ece12

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