You must read this if you’re fearful or reluctant to run or even slowly jog on a treadmill.

Just about anybody can jog, run or sprint on a treadmill, even if they’re intimidated.

I say “just about” because some orthopedic conditions are not compatible with any kind of running.

However, fear of a treadmill is never a solid reason for being unable to use this cardio equipment, and as a former personal trainer, I worked with several people who were a bit uneasy about running on something that was moving beneath their feet.

Your intimidation of this large, sometimes very noisy equipment can be overcome with some easy steps.

Get on the treadmill and do just that: Take easy steps. You don’t have to run the first time you get on a treadmill.

However, be warned about a disastrous mistake that many trainees engage in: holding onto the equipment.

  • There is absolutely no need to do this.
  • Don’t look around at other treadmill users and think, “Gee, everyone ELSE is holding on, so it must be the smart thing to do.”

Don’t follow the herd. You are the tiger, in charge, empowered and passionate about your fitness goals!

Step on the machine and begin with a comfortable speed; start walking, swinging your arms.

Model: Sharon Smith, 71

If you begin feeling dizzy, slow down. Do not hold on. You must force your body to adapt to this new stimulus.

This new stimulus will force neurological adaptation very quickly. Focus on good posture, which can be achieved only by swinging your arms.

Swing them naturally, as you would if walking the same speed outdoors or even from the gym’s lobby to your car.

At some point you will feel comfortable enough to begin running on a treadmill.


This may not occur during your very first session, and it needn’t. However, if you feel ready to begin running during your first treadmill workout, then do so.

  • Do not fear falling off.
  • Set the speed at 3 mph if you’re still intimidated by the treadmill.

Jog at 3 mph and keep your eyes straight ahead. If you feel like drifting your attention to a TV screen, that’s fine, as long as you feel in control of your balance.

I know I sound like a broken record, but do not fall prey to any temptations to place your hands on the rails or elsewhere. This will set you backwards. It will shut off opportunities for your body to adapt.

Fitness and weight loss are achieved only when the body is forced to adapt to an unfamiliar training stimulus.

Another way to overcome treadmill intimidation is to jog or run for only brief periods, alternating with walking.

Sharon Smith has been in the fitness industry for 20+ years and specializes in the over-40 client.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Iam_Anupong