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Benefits of Treadmill Walking For Seniors: 8 Science-Backed Benefits for the Elderly

By kbeveridge

Benefits of Treadmill Walking

Treadmill walking can benefit seniors by improving lung capacity, general fitness, leg strength, and gait. It can also benefit the abdominal muscles and help the elderly to lose weight. Seniors can use treadmill walking for physical therapy and daily exercise to achieve these benefits.

In this guide, we discuss the benefits of treadmill walking for seniors. We discuss all the health benefits and how to use a treadmill safely. We also compare this with other popular exercise equipment for the elderly.  

How Does Walking on a Treadmill Help an Elderly Person?

Treadmill Benefits for Cardio

1. Improved Lung Capacity

Walking on a treadmill allows seniors to improve their lung capacity and pulmonary function. If you have problems breathing, light exercise can increase your lung function over time. Therefore, it can make it easier for you to do other activities or perform your daily functions.

2. Increased Fitness for People with Chronic Strokes

It can be challenging to walk and move properly if you live with chronic strokes. Thankfully, walking on a treadmill can improve your fitness and gait as part of a physical rehabilitation program. In turn, this can assist you to be more mobile and independent.

3. Increased Fitness Over Time

Using a treadmill can benefit all seniors who want to improve their fitness. The walking action can increase your blood oxygen saturation. Using the treadmill regularly can also increase your capacity to walk long distances over time. Therefore, you can be more independent.

Treadmill Benefits for Legs

4. Physical Therapy Benefits

Treadmill walking can be an integral part of physical therapy, providing the same benefits or more than walking on the ground. It is also beneficial for people with Down syndrome, helping them to build muscular strength.

If you are recovering from an injury or living with a chronic condition, it can help you build strength and fitness.

5. Improved Gait

People who have suffered strokes or live with Parkinson’s disease may struggle to walk fluidly without falling. Thankfully, walking on a treadmill can improve your gait and coordination in both cases. This also drastically reduces your chances of falling and injuring yourself.

6. Building Leg Muscle

You can use a treadmill to build leg muscle, especially if you increase the machine’s incline. This slope forces your legs to work harder and increase muscle mass in your ankles, calves, thighs, and glutes.

Treadmill Benefits for Weight Loss

7. Burning Calories

Walking on a treadmill is a low-impact form of cardio exercise. Therefore, it can burn calories and help you lose weight. For example, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes burns around 140 calories. If you are trying to control your weight, you can spend short periods walking on the treadmill every day.

Treadmill Benefits for Abs

8. Strengthening Abdominal Muscles

Walking strengthens your abdominal muscles because they must work to stabilize your trunk and pelvis. You can raise the intensity of this strengthening by increasing your speed or the treadmill incline.

Strong abdominal muscles are essential for seniors because they help your posture, prevent falls, and maintain overall stability. If you have suffered a fall before, this could be a high priority.

What Are the Potential Risks for Seniors Using a Treadmill?

The main risk of using a treadmill is potentially falling. If you have poor balance or you are using the machine too quickly, you run the risk of slipping and crashing down. This could cause severe injury and prevent you from exercising again any time soon.

Treadmills Vs. Other Exercise Equipment for Seniors

Elliptical Vs. Treadmill for Elderly

Elliptical machines allow you to exercise with minimal impact on your joints and bones. Therefore, they can be a better option for people with arthritis or another joint disease. They also target many muscle groups.

However, ellipticals do not build bone density or help you with running as treadmills do.

Exercise Bike Vs. Treadmill for Seniors

Exercise bikes can be a safer option for seniors because the seated position reduces the risk of falling. Cycling is also a low-impact form of exercise that puts minimal strain on the body.

However, it has few benefits for the upper body or gait training. If you need to improve your walking, the treadmill is a better option.

Recumbent Bike Vs. Treadmill for Seniors

Recumbent bikes can be a better choice if you have a high fall risk. The seated position and lower-impact exercise can cause minimal pain and makes it unlikely that you will fall.

However, treadmills are better if you want to lose weight. In general, using one burns more calories than a recumbent bike. It also targets more parts of the body.

Rowing Machine Vs. Treadmill for Seniors

Rowing machines allow you to sit down, so they are ideal for people with knee or hip problems. They also let you burn calories and target various muscle groups in your upper body.

However, treadmills are better suited to improving functional fitness. If you need to work on your gait, walking, and general exercises, they will serve you better.

Tips for Using a Treadmill Safely

You can follow these tips to use a treadmill safely:

  • Start out slow. Do not increase speed or incline unless you are confident that you can handle it.
  • Exercise with supervision. Have a carer or trusted family member present in case you slip and fall.
  • Take breaks. Do not push your body too hard, especially when starting out.
  • Drink water. Take small sips of water before and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear proper walking/running shoes. Your other clothing should be loose enough to be breathable and tight enough that it won’t restrict your movements.

This video also discusses some treadmill safety tips for seniors.


In conclusion, treadmills can be valuable exercise equipment for seniors. They can assist you with cardio exercise, your legs, losing weight, and building abdominal muscles.

As long as you use the machine properly with supervision, you can avoid falling and injuring yourself. Take the time to learn how it works, and always remember to go slowly at first!

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