How Accurate Is the Distance on a Treadmill?

While calorie data is usually inaccurate, distance on a treadmill is fairly reliable.
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Most treadmills provide you feedback about your workout, including approximate calories burned, speed, elapsed time and distance covered. Consumers are often leery of the accuracy of this information.

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The calorie and fat burning data may be inaccurate, since the treadmill does not have enough information about the user. However, distance information is one of the more accurate data pieces on a treadmill.

Measuring the Distance

Treadmills measure distance to provide you with a way to track and improve your fitness. If you want to increase your fitness level, you need to continuously challenge your body. There are several ways to do this. You can run longer, faster or farther. The distance data on a treadmill tells you if you're running farther.

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Significance of Distance

The distance feature is important for measuring the effectiveness of your training, whether you're a beginner runner or have been at it a while. Using distance, you can calculate your pace. Divide your total time by your distance to figure your minutes per mile.

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Runners use this number to gauge their overall improvement. They strive to decrease the amount of time it takes them to run a mile.

How Treadmills Determine Distance

The distance reading on most treadmills is accurate. Distance is measured by the revolutions of the belt. The belt is a specific length and the treadmill records how many times it has covered this length.

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Whether you're running with the treadmill set at zero or at an incline, the distance covered remains the same. However, the intensity of your workout increases as the incline becomes steeper, because you're running "uphill."

Measurement Options

Many treadmills can be programmed to operate in metric or U.S. units. The metric measurement for distance is kilometers and the U.S. measurement for distance is miles. Make sure the treadmill is set to measure distance in your preferred units.

Calories Burned and Distance

Although the distance reading on a treadmill is accurate, that doesn't mean ​all​ the data is accurate.

While the speed and distance readings are "straightforward and fairly accurate," the calorie counter is set to calculate the metabolic rate of an average exerciser, not the individual specifically, as reported by the Washington Post. Therefore, the calorie information is an estimate and not as trustworthy as the distance information.

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