Walking on a treadmill provides many possible benefits, from weight loss to improved cardiovascular health. Although you cannot specifically target the belly or other fat by walking on a treadmill, performing aerobic exercise such as walking can help you burn away overall body fat.
Combined with a healthy diet and strength training, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day can help you reach your fat-loss goals.
It’s not possible to spot-reduce body fat, but walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day can help you burn overall body fat and achieve a healthy weight.
Burn Calories on a Treadmill
As you walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, you'll be burning calories. In general, you'll need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of body fat. The calories burned walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes will vary based on your weight and the speed and intensity of your walking.
For example, a 155-pound person burns about 167 calories walking 4 mph for 30 minutes. A 125-pound person walking at the same pace burns about 135 calories. Picking up the pace and walking 4.5 mph for 30 minutes results in a calorie burn of 186 and 150 calories, respectively.
To further enhance the treadmill benefits for your body, increase your daily exercise time. Weight loss will be more likely to happen if you commit to a regular routine of walking 30 to 60 minutes each day. Aim for 150 to 300 minutes of walking or other moderate-intensity physical activity weekly, per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Add Intensity to Treadmill Walking
Try adding intensity to your walking routine to increase the treadmill benefits for your body even more. Performing more vigorous exercise can potentially shorten the length of your treadmill workouts and allow you to burn more calories. For example, add an incline on the treadmill. By working against gravity, incline walking requires you to use more muscle engagement than walking on a flat surface.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers yet another way to increase the intensity of your treadmill routine. HIIT training incorporates periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of recovery. The increased oxygen demands on your body during a HIIT routine will increase your total caloric expenditure both during and after your workout.
For a HIIT workout on the treadmill, run or jog for 30 seconds to one minute, and then walk for one to three minutes. Repeat several times until you've completed 30 minutes of exercise or more. As you build endurance, you can adjust your interval and recovery times to suit your fitness level.
Read more: What Is a Good Body Fat Percentage?
Why Burn Belly Fat?
Belly fat comes in two forms: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous abdominal fat is located in the fatty tissue just under the skin — it's the fat you can pinch with your fingers. Although a reduction in subcutaneous fat is ideal, visceral fat is the more concerning of the two.
Visceral fat, located around the internal organs, is linked with a variety of health problems, including impaired insulin regulation, increased blood sugar and cholesterol, abnormal heart function and cardiovascular disease.
Even a small reduction in belly fat can result in improved health. A study published in September 2016 in Translational Behavioral Medicine examined the effects of a 5 to 10 percent weight loss. Throughout a 15-week behavioral weight loss program, patients ate a calorie-restricted diet and engaged in 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity per week. A 5 to 10 percent weight loss resulted in improved cardiovascular risk factors for the patients, as well as reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Read more: How to Get Started With Weightlifting
Additional Ways to Reduce Fat
Although the treadmill benefits for your body are notable, strength training at least two days a week provides additional benefits. The added muscle will help you burn calories more easily and may help you improve balance and bone strength — which can translate into more efficient treadmill walks.
Perform strength-training sessions with dumbbells, barbells, weight machines and resistance bands. You can also perform body-weight exercises such as squats, lunges, abdominal crunches, push-ups and planks.
For even greater weight-loss results, eat a healthy diet focused on lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and minimal healthy fats, such as olive oil. Limit your intake of saturated fats such as cheese and butter, and avoid refined carbohydrates such as white sugar and white flour. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting less than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugars and saturated fats.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Wentworth Institute of Technology: "Why Can't I Spot Reduce Fat?"
- Health.gov: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- MedlinePlus: "10 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Treadmills: Tips for Using This Versatile Piece of Exercise Equipment"
- American Council on Exercise: "8 Reasons HIIT Workouts Are So Effective"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Abdominal Obesity and Your Health"
- NCBI: Translational Behavioral Medicine: "Effects on Cardiovascular Risk Factors of Weight Losses Limited to 5–10%"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 1. Key Recommendations: Components of Healthy Eating Patterns"
- American Cancer Society: "5 Benefits of Strength Training"