How Does A Treadmill Work?

Treadmill Running

Jasminko Ibrakovic/

By Simon Gould

Treadmills have been around for hundreds of years. There used to be horse driven mills to drive agricultural equipment. There were even penal treadmills used as punishment for people convicted of crimes. These days they are exclusively used as exercise machines. They are all very much made and operate, in a similar way.

Electric and manual treadmills

The treadmill belt actually goes backwards so as you walk or run, you propel yourself forwards. A typical treadmill has two metal rollers and a fabric belt. Manual treadmills are smaller than electric ones because there's no motor. The deck has to be wide and long enough for a typical adult to be able to stride on.

A manual treadmill requires the user to actually move the belt as opposed to an electric one where the motor powers it. Manual treadmills take some practice to use but you get used to it. If you typically run on treadmills then an electric one is advisable. They do cost more and the more you pay the better product you get for your money. There are reviews all over the internet including this site through the menu on the left.

They require regular maintenance

Unfortunately treadmills, especially electric ones, require regular maintenance. There are things you need to do weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and more. Easy home treadmill care can be performed by the owner, you don't need an expert to be called out. The unit takes a lot of pounding and special silicone lubricant needs to be applied every 3 months.

The good thing is that with regular maintenance a modern treadmill can last up to 10 to 12 years. So picking a good one represents a great investment. They have become more advanced over the years with inbuilt calorie counters and many have the ability to monitor and display your heart rate. Many have workouts pre-programmed into them.


Treadmills are the most popular piece of exercise equipment and can really offer a fantastic boost to your physical and mental wellbeing. Most treadmills have the same components now and advancements are rare but do happen. Curved treadmills are the latest technology and have a price tag to match. They can last a lot longer but are relatively new and with few features.

Treadmills can benefit anyone, young and old. You can walk or run and have the convenience of stopping exactly when you want to. When you run outside you're committed to running back home whether you're too tired or not. With a treadmill you're always home. I love my workout on a treadmill and while the maintenance is a lot, I wouldn't be without one.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? See my top 3 recommended treadmills for 2021

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.

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