Treadmills provide a variety of workouts, allowing you to set a pace suited for your level of fitness and avoid the outdoor elements. By setting the speed for walking, jogging or running coupled with your weight, the calories burned on a treadmill can range significantly.
The calories burned during a cardio workout lasting 20 minutes on a treadmill can vary depending on your weight and speed. For example, a 155-pound person running at a 12-minute per mile pace can burn 298 calories in 30 minutes, whereas a 185-pound person can burn 355.
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Calories Burned on a Treadmill
Caloric burn ranges for everyone in any physical activity due to certain variables. For a treadmill workout, these can include the following:
Weight: How much you weigh plays a role in how many calories you burn. People who are larger or have more muscle burn more calories, including while they are at rest, says the Mayo Clinic. For example, according to Harvard Health Publishing, a 185-pound person burns more calories in 20 minutes on a treadmill at 5 mph than a 125-pound person at the same speed — 237 versus 160 calories, respectively.
Gender: Men will generally burn more calories than a woman doing the same physical activity. The Mayo Clinic says this is due to men having less body fat and more muscle than women of the same weight and age.
Workout intensity: The intensity/pace of an exercise directly affects how many calories you burn; running at 8 mph burns more calories than running at 5 mph. Harvard Health Publishing provides a few statistics on walking and running speeds for a 125-pound person:
- Walking at 3.5 mph burns 120 calories in 30 minutes (80 calories in 20 minutes)
- Running at 5 mph burns 240 calories in 30 minutes (160 calories in 20 minutes)
- Running at 6 mph burns 300 calories in 30 minutes (200 calories in 20 minutes)
- Running at 7.5 mph burns 375 calories in 30 minutes (250 calories in 20 minutes)
Treadmill calibration: Some machines offer a treadmill calorie calculator in which you enter your weight and the treadmill will determine how many calories you burn depending on your speed and incline. You should note that treadmills don't always provide accurate numbers, as they often aren't calibrated correctly, according to a November 2015 study from the BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation journal.
Treadmill Modifications Affecting Calorie Burn
You can also burn more calories during a 20-minute treadmill session by performing two of the following workout alterations. You can make your workout harder by increasing the incline, or adding in a component to make the workout burn more calories, like bursts of activity (HIIT).
Increasing the incline: Setting the treadmill at an incline burns more calories than walking on level ground. The incline also helps build strength in the lower body because of the greater resistance that results from walking uphill. An incline also offers benefits beyond calorie burn. An April 2014 study from Gait & Posture found that walking at an incline can help people with knee replacements and osteoarthritis.
Adding in high-intensity interval training: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is comprised of short bursts (intervals) of exercises that last anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes at a time, and you push as hard as you can for the duration of the interval. These exercises are paired with short recovery periods. According to ACE, this anaerobic method of training continues to burn calories for hours after the workout. Such short intervals at a high intensity also burn more calories due to higher oxygen consumption.
- Harvard Health Publications: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Mayo Clinic: "Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories"
- Gait & Posture: "The Influence of Incline Walking on Joint Mechanics"
- BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation: "Validity of Treadmill- and Track-Based Individual Calibration Methods for Estimating Free-Living Walking Speed and VO2 Using the Actigraph Accelerometer"
- American Council on Exercise: "8 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective"