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Did you know that leading a sedentary lifestyle has been shown to increase your risk for cancer, metabolic diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, and death? Probably. But how can you become more active? It can be as easy as taking more steps every day.

That’s right—simply walking more daily can set you up for success. Treadmill walking workouts can be appropriate for all fitness levels, and they provide a great form of exercise for most people. 

The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-activity exercise per week to improve health and wellness markers and maintain a healthy weight, and walking definitely fits the bill. Walking may seem too “easy,” but as a certified personal trainer (CPT), I think it’s one of the most under-utilized forms of exercise there is!

Below, I’ve created three treadmill walking workouts with my own CPT knowledge to help you get off on the right foot. 

Treadmill Walking Benefits 

Treadmill walking—and just walking in general—is good for your body and your mind. 

“Walking is one of the best ways to complement your strength training routine for a variety of reasons,” says Lauren Strong, GGR staff writer and National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT). “Heart health and reducing your risk of heart disease is at the top of that list. I also like that the impact of walking helps stimulate new bone tissue formation, or what is more often referred to as ‘bone density.’”

While walking outside has plenty of benefits—sunshine and fresh air being the important two—treadmill walking can also be effective for your physical health. Perks include:

  • Not having to deal with bad weather
  • The ability to exercise even when it’s dark outside
  • Fewer safety concerns stemming from vehicles, uneven terrain, or even potential harassment
  • Control the speed and incline with the touch of a button

Also, if you don’t feel like winging your own walking workout ahead of time, you can take advantage of programming like iFIT, which is integrated into some treadmills or can be downloaded as an app. On apps like these, the personal trainers will take you around the globe for all different kinds of walking workouts. This takes the guesswork out of it, and can make your workouts fun. 

Treadmill Walking Workout for Beginners

This treadmill walking workout for beginners will help you get your feet wet with cardio exercise, whether you’ve taken a hiatus or are just getting started. You’ll stay at an RPE of 4 throughout, which means you’ll be comfortable but still breathing heavier. 

An image of an RPE chart

On an RPE scale, a 1 is very light activity, like sitting or watching TV. When you get into the 4 to 6 range, you can still pass the “talk test,” but you’re breathing heavier. An RPE of 10 is all-out maximal effort, as hard as you can go. 

And let’s also bust a myth right here: Because we’re at an RPE of 4, many would also say this could be considered one of the best walking treadmill workouts for weight loss. Why? Because at an RPE of 4, you’d be in the purported “fat-burning” zone, which is where you’re working at around 55 to 60% of your maximum heart rate. The “fat-burning zone” is generally considered a myth—you can burn fat with higher-intensity exercise as well—so if fat loss is your goal, don’t let the low- to moderate-intensity workouts keep you in a chokehold; feel free to mix it up.

Back to the workout: You can also adjust it based on the amount of time you have—feel free to stay in the working zone longer if you’re comfortable!

The Workout

Start with 15 minutes of moderate-pace walking, and extend the working period as you see fit.

0-5 minutes: Warm up, work up to a brisk pace, RPE 4

5-20 minutes: Maintain RPE range 4-6 

20-25 minutes: Cool down, walk at a leisurely pace, RPE 3

best treadmill walking workout for beginners

Interval Treadmill Walking Workout 

Interval training is a way to keep your body guessing. By alternating longer periods of lower-intensity work with short bursts of high-intensity work, you’ll give your heart rate time to recover but potentially increase calorie burn in the process. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is all the buzz, and while that’s definitely an option, interval training doesn’t have to be super intense. It just means you’re changing your level of effort throughout the workout. 

In this interval walking workout—which is also one of the best 30-minute treadmill walking workouts, too—you’ll alternate between an RPE of 3 and an RPE of 7 by adjusting the speed up and down accordingly. 

RELATED: 30 Minute Treadmill Workout

The Workout

Start here with 30 minutes total, but you can always add more intervals to make your working time longer if you want to.

0-5 minutes: Warm up, work up to a brisk pace, RPE 4

5-7 minutes: RPE 7

7-10 minutes: RPE 3

10-12 minutes: RPE 7

12-15 minutes: RPE 3

15-17 minutes: RPE 7

17-20 minutes: RPE 3

20-22 minutes: RPE 7

22-25 minutes: RPE 3

25-30 minutes: Cool down, walk at a leisurely pace, RPE 3

best interval treadmill walking workout

Incline Treadmill Walking Workout

Incline walking has been in the spotlight this year thanks to the social media-famous “12-3-30 workout” by Lauren Giraldo. A TikTok-favorite, this cardio workout entails walking for 30 minutes at a 3 MPH pace and a 12 percent incline. 

And while that’s a viable option—plus super easy to remember—we have another incline walking routine for you here as well. Walking on an incline will fire up your glutes and hamstrings, providing a lower-body workout that may surprise you.

best incline treadmill walking workout

The Workout

Focus on a mix of speed and incline during the working periods—whatever combination gets you to an RPE of 6 to 7—but aim for a level 6 or 7 incline.

0-5 minutes: Warm up, work up to a brisk pace, RPE 4

5-10 minutes: Crank up the incline, RPE 6-7

10-12 minutes: Drop the incline to 0 and increase speed, RPE 4

12-17 minutes: Crank up the incline, RPE 6-7

17-22: Cool down, drop incline to 0 and walk at a leisurely pace, RPE 3

Treadmill Walking Workout: Final Thoughts 

Getting your steps in on the treadmill doesn’t have to be boring. Mixing in intervals and incline work can make your treadmill walking workout even more effective. 

  • Walking in general is an underrated form of exercise, both for physical and mental health
  • Treadmill walking can be safer than walking outside, and it’s easier to control your speed and incline. 
  • Consider a treadmill walking workout for beginners, an interval treadmill walking workout, or a treadmill walking incline workout to get started. 

Best Treadmill Walking Workouts: Q&A

Below are some frequently asked questions about treadmill walking workouts. 

What is a good treadmill walking workout?

This depends on your goals. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly walking workout routine, try just 20 or 30 minutes at an RPE of 4, which means that while you’re breathing heavier than normal, you can maintain a conversation. You can also experiment with intervals or incline in your treadmill routine to reap other benefits for your cardiovascular system and lower-body muscles.  

Can you get a good workout walking on a treadmill?

Yes! Walking is one of the easiest, most beneficial forms of exercise you can partake in. You may see HIIT treadmill workouts all over the place, but low-intensity cardio like walking can improve your heart health, decrease your risk for disease, and increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) value, which can contribute to weight loss

Is walking on a treadmill a good way to lose weight?

To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, which means you burn more calories that you consume. While your nutrition should drive much of the deficit, you can also utilize exercise to help with weight loss goals. Walking is a great low-impact option to add to your fitness routine. 

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