Treadmill Workout Guide for Beginners

A successful treadmill walking workout consists of a warm up, aerobic exercise, and a cool down. How you begin your workout program depends on your physical condition. If you have been inactive for a long time (say, 3 to 5 years), or are severely overweight, start slowly and then increase your workout time gradually and monitor your heart rate while you exercise.

Essentials:

At the beginning you may only be able to exercise within your target zone for a few minutes; however, your aerobic capacity will improve over the next few weeks (say, 8 weeks, give and take). It is important to pace yourself while you exercise so you don't get tired too quickly.

Workout Intensity:

To determine if you are working out at the correct intensity, use a heart rate monitor or use the table (Target Heart Rate Zone Estimated by Age) below.

For effective workouts, your heart rate should be maintained at a level between 60% and 90% of your maximum heart rate. If you're just starting an exercise program, workout at the low end of your target heart rate zone. As your aerobic capacity improves, gradually increase the intensity of your workout by increasing your heart rate.

For cardiorespiratory training benefits, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends working out within a heart rate range of 55% to 90% of maximum heart rate. To determine the maximum heart rate, the following formula was used:

220 - Age = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

Target Heart Rate Zone Estimated by Age as per the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations:

AgeTarget Heart Rate Zone
(55%-90% of Maximum Heart Rate)
Average Maximum
Heart Rate 100%
20 years110-180 beats per minute200 beats per minute
25 years107-175 beats per minute195 beats per minute
30 years105-171 beats per minute190 beats per minute
35 years102-166 beats per minute185 beats per minute
40 years99-162 beats per minute180 beats per minute
45 years97-157 beats per minute175 beats per minute
50 years94-153 beats per minute170 beats per minute
55 years91-148 beats per minute165 beats per minute
60 years88-144 beats per minute160 beats per minute
65 years85-139 beats per minute155 beats per minute
70 years83-135 beats per minute150 beats per minute

Check Wrist Pulse You can also measure your heart rate periodically during your workout by stopping the exercise but continuing to move your legs or walk around. Place three fingers on your wrist and take a 6 second heartbeat count. Multiply the results by 10 to find your heart rate. For example, if your 6 second heartbeat count is 14, your heart rate is 140 beats per minute. A 6 second count is used because your heart rate will drop rapidly when you stop exercising. Adjust the intensity of your exercise until your heart rate is at the proper level

Warm-Up Before You Begin Your Workout:

The purpose of warming up is to prepare your body for exercise and to minimize injuries. Warm up for about five minutes before your treadmill workout. Perform activities such as brisk walking, jogging, jumping jacks, jump rope, and running, that can raise your heart rate and warm the working muscles.

Stretching: Stretching while your muscles are warm after a proper warm-up and again after your workout session is very important. Muscles stretch more easily at these times because of their elevated temperature, which greatly reduces the risk of injury. Stretches should be held for 15 to 30 seconds. Do not bounce.

For some examples of effective stretching exercises, visit:

Women's Heart Foundation: Stretching Exercises

Cool-Down After Your Workout:

The purpose of cooling down is to return the body to its normal, or near normal, resting state at the end of each workout session. A proper cool-down slowly lowers your heart rate and allows blood to return to the heart. Your cool-down should include some stretching exercises, and should be completed after each workout session.

The following demo video shows you how to walk on a manual treadmill. The manual treadmill model is Exerpeutic 100XL.