Is It Better To Go Fast Or Slow On A Treadmill?

Both walking slowly and running fast are good on a treadmill. Slow walking reduces joint stress and injury risk, while fast running increases calorie burn and endurance.

The best speed for your treadmill workout depends on your goals, capabilities, and preferences. Consider your fitness level and goals to determine which approach works best for you.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both approaches, as well as some tips for finding the right balance between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise on a treadmill.

You can also check out our separate article on how to get the most out of your treadmill workouts.

The Benefits of Walking at a Slower Pace on Treadmill:

1. Reduces stress on joints

Walking at a slow pace is an ideal option for those experiencing joint pain or injuries. It is a low-impact activity that puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and hips, as opposed to running or other high-impact exercises. Walking on a treadmill can help you stay active and fit without excessively straining your joints.

2. Lowers risk of injury

Walking is a safe and low-risk activity that can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels.

It is a great option for beginners who want to start a fitness routine but may not be ready for intense workouts. Walking at a slow pace on a treadmill can help you gradually build endurance and strength without putting yourself at risk of injury.

Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Walking on a Treadmill:

1. Use proper form

Maintain proper posture when walking on a treadmill. Keep your head up, shoulders relaxed, and core engaged. Avoid leaning forward or backward, as this can strain your back muscles. Ensure that your arms swing naturally at your sides, and your feet land softly on the treadmill belt.

2. Incorporate incline variations

Adjusting the incline of the treadmill can help increase the intensity of your workout and burn more calories. Start with a low incline and gradually increase it over time.

Walking on an incline can also help target different muscle groups in your legs and improve your balance.

3. Pace yourself

Begin with a slow pace and gradually increase your speed as your fitness level improves. Avoid overexerting yourself, as this can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue.

Use the built-in programs on your treadmill to vary your speed and incline and keep your workouts challenging and engaging.

The Disadvantages of Walking at a Slower Pace on Treadmill:

1. Lower calorie burn

Walking at a slower pace burns fewer calories compared to walking at a faster pace. This can limit weight loss or fitness gains.

If weight loss is your primary goal, you need to increase the intensity with time.

2. Reduced cardiovascular benefits

Walking at a slower pace may not provide the same cardiovascular benefits as walking at a faster pace.

This is because the heart rate may not increase enough to achieve a significant aerobic workout.

However, walking at a slower pace can still be beneficial for those with mobility issues or as a recovery activity after intense workouts.

3. Limited muscle strengthening

Walking at a slower pace may not engage the muscles as much, limiting muscle strengthening and toning benefits.

Incorporating resistance training or adding weights to the workout can help increase the engagement of muscles.

4. Boredom and lack of motivation

Walking at a slower pace can become monotonous and boring, reducing motivation to continue the workout.

To make treadmill workouts less boring, one can incorporate music or audiobooks, watch TV or movies, or vary the workout routine with different inclines or speeds.

You can also take help of these tips to make treadmill workouts less boring.

5. Longer time commitment

Walking at a slower pace may require a longer time commitment to achieve the same workout benefits as walking at a faster pace.

However, for those with injuries or mobility issues, walking at a slower pace may be the only option to stay active.

Gradually increasing the duration of the workout over time can help achieve similar benefits as walking at a faster pace. It is important to prioritize consistency and gradual progression in any workout routine.

Benefits of Running at a Faster Pace on Treadmill

1. Increased Calorie Burn

Running at a faster pace can help you burn more calories per minute than slower-paced exercise. This can be especially helpful if you are looking to lose weight or improve your overall fitness.

2. Improved Endurance

High-intensity exercise can also improve your endurance by increasing your body’s ability to utilize oxygen efficiently. This can help you exercise for longer periods of time without fatigue.

3. Improved Cardiovascular Health

Running at a faster pace can also improve your cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of heart disease. This can be accomplished by increasing your heart rate and pumping more blood and oxygen to your muscles.

Risks of Running at a Faster Pace on a Treadmill

1. Increased Risk of Injury

Running at a faster pace places more significant stress on your muscles, joints, and bones, increasing the risk of various injuries, including strains, sprains, and stress fractures.

2. Overtraining

Overtraining occurs when you push yourself too hard without adequate rest and recovery, leading to a decrease in performance, increased injury risk, and compromised immune function.


Treadmill workouts can be an effective way to improve fitness and achieve a variety of health goals.

High-intensity workouts, such as running fast on a treadmill, can be useful for improving cardiovascular endurance and burning calories, while low-intensity workouts, such as walking slowly, can be beneficial for reducing stress, improving joint health, and promoting recovery from injuries.

The key is to find the right balance based on individual fitness goals and physical capabilities, and to gradually increase intensity over time while also incorporating variety and cross-training to prevent boredom and overuse injuries.

It’s essential to listen to your body and know when to dial back intensity or take rest days, and to also stay hydrated, wear proper footwear, and incorporate strength training to balance out treadmill workouts.

Experiment with different approaches and find a personalized workout plan that works best for them while prioritizing rest and recovery to prevent injury and burnout.