What Is a Good Treadmill Speed?

Treadmills allow you to walk, jog or run, depending on your fitness goals. The faster you go, the more calories you burn, and the more impact you create in your workouts. Your physical condition — more than your age — should guide you as you select treadmill speeds.

Walk for heart health; jog or sprint for calorie-burning. Credit: spyderskidoo/E+/GettyImages

Younger children will be less concerned with impact than seniors and will be better able to withstand the effects of higher speeds. Start slow and build your ability to use a treadmill at higher speeds as you improve your physical condition.


Your age and physical condition will be the greatest determiners of how fast you should go on a treadmill.

Age 5 and Under

Treadmills pose significant safety risk to children age 5 and under, according to Nationwide Children's. Surprisingly, most injuries occur to the upper body for this age group, especially their hands.

Use treadmills at a very slow speed with children this age and provide close supervision by having an adult present.

Read more: How Long Should Someone Run on a Treadmill

School-Age Children and Teens

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends children of ages 6 to 17 get at least an hour of aerobic exercise/activity/sports each day — and muscle and bone-strengthening activities at least three times a week.

Depending on your child's physical condition, he should start slow to build cardiovascular stamina. When he's ready to perform aerobic exercise, he should use a treadmill at a pace that has him breathing hard and sweating, but able to talk throughout the workout.

Treadmill Usage for Adults

Adults should use similar treadmill speeds to school-age children and teens, depending on their cardiovascular fitness and any knee, back or other joint or muscle problems.

If you're new to exercise, consider using a treadmill below 4 mph as you work to build cardiovascular stamina. While you get in shape, you can walk at a brisk pace to burn fat and improve aerobic conditioning.

When you are ready to do aerobic exercise, use the treadmill at 3 to 5 mph or higher, depending on your height and gait, to create a pace you can maintain during your entire workout.

Well-conditioned athletes can add interval training to their workouts, says Harvard Health Publishing, running fast for one minute, with three minutes of slower walking or jogging afterward. These speeds assume a flat incline — a higher incline will be more difficult.

Read more: How Long Should You Walk on a Treadmill Per Day?

Seniors, Protect Your Bones

Osteoporosis is a key concern for seniors, especially women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Almost half of all senior women will experience a fracture, with approximately 20 percent of senior men breaking a bone.

Using a treadmill at high speed will cause both feet to leave the ground, creating high-impact workouts that can cause stress fractures. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help improve bone density.

Seniors should use a treadmill at a speed that lets them keep both feet on the treadmill during their workout. To increase calorie burning, consider using walking poles during your workout.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.