How Accurate are Treadmill Speeds – Here’s are why

When it comes to exercising, everyone knows about the functions of treadmills. There are many advantages to treadmill exercise over outdoor running, specifically, climate control. Furthermore, it is convenient, thorough, saves time and gives accurate results.

However, how accurate are treadmill speeds? That is a common concern for many trainers. As we all know, accuracy is necessary if you are committed to running a set distance at a particular speed. 

Without proper accuracy, there are chances of getting injured. Not to mention, the results highly vary on the speed accuracy of the runner. So, the answer is that it widely depends on the treadmill you are getting. 

In this article, I will thoroughly discuss the speed accuracy of treadmills. 

Reliability of Speed Measurements

You can calculate a treadmill’s speed by the belt’s length and the number of belt rotations. If you take simple and direct measurements into account, a treadmill’s speed reader can be considered fairly accurate. However, you need to put more effort into moving on a treadmill than you need on the ground. 

According to researchers, the reason it is fairly easier and appears more effective to run on the ground is simply because it is more fun. Because the runner has more space to sprint, they are automatically driven by the wind. 

The treadmill operates quite similarly to the outdoors environment at paces slower than 7 minutes per mile which is the average running speed on the treadmill. On a treadmill, the effort increases as the rate or speed rise because there is no wind resistance. So, the user must raise the inclination to match the effort.

Reliability of Speed Measurements

Treadmill Speed Accuracy

It is not always correct to correlate the measurements of a treadmill’s speed. The greatest problem here is the speed information on the treadmill’s front. It is not correct, and the majority of treadmills lack proper calibration. 

For instance, you might be jogging at 6.6/6.9/7.3 mph if you choose a treadmill to set the speed to 7.0 mph. This is an acute issue you cannot overlook and puts a great troll on your energy.

Even if you get your hands on a great quality treadmill, the function ability might change after each calibration. For the good quality ones, the speed numbers only stay accurate for about six months. However, the decreased caliber measurement happens mostly because of the usage, not the time. 

So, how do I know that my treadmill speed is accurate? You can wear a properly calibrated running accelerometer set at 7.0 mph. Otherwise, you can divide the distance by the time recorded to get the treadmill speed. 

For instance, if it took 20 seconds for the belt to complete 15 revolutions and its length was 3 m, the speed would be (3 x 15) / 20 = 2.25 meters/second, or 8.1 km/hr or 5 mph. This calculator also converts speed measurements.

Treadmill Speed Accuracy

Is Speed Important in Treadmill?

Many people still believe that running on a treadmill is relatively easier than running on the grounds. However, it is a total myth and a misconception. Well, it is kind of true that the energy you require to run on a treadmill at a low speed is lower than running outdoors.  

However, this does not necessarily translate into a diminished effort level while using a treadmill. In actuality, it can also be the total opposite. Furthermore, you can only measure the efforts by the speed level. 

Although the cardiometabolic load is lower when jogging on a treadmill, studies have shown that running at any given pace feels harder on the treadmill than outside. This is why the treadmill’s “incline” mood is difficult to operate when running at high speed. 

So, is it harder to run on a treadmill? Well, it is, but it varies on your condition, speed, and pace set up on the machine. One needs to get accustomed to the increasing pace of the treadmill. You might injure yourself if you resort to sprinting from the very first day. 

Outdoor Running VS Treadmill Running

The cardiovascular risk load is lower when jogging on a treadmill. However, studies have shown that running at any given pace feels harder on the treadmill than outside. The reason is that the perceived effort is not just based on heart rate. 

The difficulty of running at a specific pace is also influenced by a number of other variables, including psychological influences. Various researchers found that running outside is simpler than running on a treadmill simply because it is more enjoyable. 

However, I believe there is a matter of control and perception when running on different surfaces. You have better control of speed and accuracy when running on a treadmill, but you enjoy it more while running outside in the mildly cold weather. 

There you have your treadmill pace vs. road pace solution. It is not about the pace or efforts, but all about the environment and reinforcements. Precisely, the effort given on a treadmill is higher than on the road. 

Outdoor Running VS Treadmill Running

Pace and Precision

Your speed is never exactly steady when you run outside. There are little rhythmic changes even while you’re trying to run at a perfectly steady rate. However, it is not the case on a treadmill because your rhythm is firmly fixed. 

Evidence suggests that this restricted environment slightly increases perceived effort. A study discovered that if you follow the power wavelength voluntarily, your perceived efforts will be lower. However, the perceived effort will rise if the wattage or power is imposed on you.

It is more about the psychological aspects than the physical capabilities. But, if you have been asking yourself, does running on a treadmill makes you faster? The answer will be that it does, but it is an eventual process. You learn to cope with the set pace of the machine, whereas you can always lay back a bit while running outside. 

On the other hand, it has been evident that runners run faster outside than on the treadmills. According to a 2014 study, 18 leisure joggers from Brazil’s State University of Maringa participated in one-hour trials on a treadmill and an outdoor track. 

On the treadmill, they ran 11.8 km and 12.2 km on the track. To put it another way, they detected 3.3% better results on outside running. On the other hand, their heart rates seemed lower on the treadmills. It is because of the difference in efforts. 

Even though you need to give more effort to your speed while running on a treadmill, you need more precision on the outside. The wind can be both an obstacle and reinforcement when it comes to running outside, so you learn to cope with the pacing. Furthermore, you must measure your pace as you need firm steadiness on the ground. 


A treadmill is a great running tool for exercise lovers. Both treadmill and outside running have their particular merits. Some get better results on treadmills, and some get better on the grounds. However, it also depends on your target and conditions.
So, if you still wonder how accurate are treadmill speeds? The answer will not be much. Even though it varies on the quality of your treadmill, the machine will eventually die down. So, it will need constant repair.

James Manley

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