Are Treadmill Speeds Universal? (Choosing mph or kph)

Treadmill Running

wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

By Simon Gould

Treadmills come in 2 speeds. Those being mph (miles per hour) and kph (kilometers per hour). These speeds are different because the length of the distance between miles and kilomteres is different.

When you buy a treadmill it's usually preset for the country it's being sold in. For the US it will be mph and other metric countries it will be kph. You can usually select which one you prefer using the selection in the console menu.

Differences between the speeds

I'll give you a little table displaying the differences between the speeds. As you can see, because the distance is shorter, kilometers per hour is a higher number than miles per hour and yet is the same intensity. It won't be any harder to cover the distance as long as other intensity effects on the treadmill are the same, such as incline.

Activitymphkph
Walking1.01.6
1.52.4
2.03.2
2.54.0
3.04.8
3.55.6
Jogging4.06.4
4.57.2
5.08.0
5.58.9
Running6.09.7
6.510.5
7.011.3
7.512.1
8.012.9
8.513.7
9.014.5
9.515.3
10.016.1

New treadmills are calibrated

New treadmills have their speeds calibrated at manufacture. They do this using the belt and measuring the distance covered divided by a certain time. This gives the speed. Sometimes as treadmills age or are not as good quality. Then the speed may be slightly off especially when you start covering long distances.

This is not something for 95% of treadmill users to worry about. Elite runners may need to worry that their treadmill levels are not accurate. Professional runners will run on treadmills using speed workouts.

They'll use fartlek or interval workouts which help increase your normal running speed. These are perfect for the treadmill and, while speed accuracy is important, they train using the feeling of intensity more so.

How to choose mph or kph on a treadmill

Depending on where you bought your treadmill. The speed will be mph in the USA and km/h if you're in the UK. So which ever is normally used in your country, you'll normally see being used on your treadmill. If you've just bought it a manual will tell you how it can be changed. It's usually just a few buttons on the console.

If you can't find the answer, you could always contact the manufacturer and they can help you. If you're used to exercising at a certain speed, use the chart above to match your pace. When transferring between mph and kph, take care because you may notice a different speed but the same number on the console.

Summary

As I've said before, nearly all treadmill users do not need to concern themselves about the treadmill speeds accuracy. All treadmills can show your speed and if they only show mph or kph and then simply do a conversion to see what the speed you'd like to go at using google or a speed conversion site.

If you're a beginner or just trying to lose weight don't worry about the speed you're going. To benefit you most run slow and long for the best results as long as your doctor allows. Speed is universal but not something to be concerned with, don't compare yourself to other people, just try and beat yourself week after week if that's what you want.

If you're training for a race or you're at that stage where you want to run faster, then I will say the same. Don't worry about the accuracy of speed specifically, just that you're getting faster in your normal runs.

This should be the aim. In summary, treadmill speeds are universal but they're not that important for most runners unless you want to win your next race.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? See my top 3 recommended treadmills for 2022

Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

Follow Me

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin