How much time can one spend walking on a treadmill before it starts becoming something bad for the body?

Spending a lot of time walking on a treadmill can be defined as very prolonged periods on the machine, but not necessarily daily.

Or, it can refer to walking on the treadmill every day for long periods.

“No, a lot of walking on the treadmill is not bad for your body” says Jennifer He, a NASM certified personal trainer based in New York City who specializes in women’s weight loss.

This of course assumes that you are doing two things:

• Wearing proper footwear
• Swinging your arms rather than holding on

For any prolonged periods of being on your feet, you want to make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear.

Secondly, holding onto a treadmill will distort natural gait and cause you to engage in poor posture while make-believe walking.

Our ancient ancestors walked several miles every day without holding onto anything for support. In fact, our primitive forbearers often carried things while walking for very long distances.

And those walking treks included unstable ground, often in the heat.

So you see, there is no excuse for holding onto a treadmill while walking. Otherwise you can end up with repetitive stress injuries in the hips and shoulders.

Plus inability to achieve your fitness or fat loss goals!

A Lot of Treadmill Walking Won’t Hurt You

Now that you know that you can walk on a treadmill for as much as you’d like without it harming your body, it’s time to reassess just WHY you want to do so much walking in the first place.

When I was a personal trainer at a health club, I noticed a woman spending three to four hours at a single time, on a treadmill, every time I was there.

It was an average paced, level walk, and I inquired about her goal.

She replied she was preparing her body for a walk-a-thon. That made a lot of sense.

If you’re training for a walk-a-thon, prolonged periods on a treadmill will help you tolerate the many miles of the actual event.

On the other hand, maybe your goal is to burn body fat by doing tons of walking on the machine.

“However, since this is considered a low-impact workout, results will not be as significant,” says He.

“Doing a 10 minute, high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill is more effective than spending hours walking on the treadmill. The only downside of it is the time wasted.”

When I worked at the gym, I saw the same people spending inordinate amounts of time walking on treadmills, hoping this would burn off many pounds of body fat.

Though it beats sitting at home on the sofa, please take note that sitting at home on a sofa is a VERY LOW STANDARD to try to beat!

You’ll want to dramatically raise your standard of reference! HIIT will blast off fat like you won’t believe.

Here’s more information on high intensity interval training; ANY BODY can do it.

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/Khakimullin Aleksandr