How Accurate Are Treadmills on Distance?

Treadmills are a very effective tool for new runners and seasoned pros alike. They can help runners learn how to set their pace and offer a simple way for individuals to slowly and safely increase their stamina and endurance. Additionally, these machines can also offer instrumental data and measurements that can help an individual track their progress over time. Most modern treadmills can track a user’s distance, speed, pace, and calories burned. However, the accuracy of this data is still in a bit of contention. This guide explores how accurate treadmills are on distance and how different factors may impact the overall validity of a reading.

How distance is measured

Most treadmills measure distance by calculating the number of revolutions that the belt completes during a workout. The belt is a specific length, and the treadmill tracks each time that the belt completes a full revolution. No matter how fast the belt goes, the treadmill will always only track one full revolution. This calculation method doesn’t change, regardless of the speed or incline of the treadmill.

Overall accuracy

So how accurate are treadmills on distance? Due to the calculation method, it’s often quite accurate. The reading doesn’t change because of the weight of the user, the intensity of the workout, or the incline of the treadmill. It’s important to note, however, that treadmills may not always provide an accurate measurement of distance. Over time, a treadmill belt will sustain slight wear and tear. This can stretch the belt slightly, causing the treadmill to give a slightly inaccurate distance reading. Additionally, as the treadmill ages, its sensor and internal software may become a bit less sensitive. Therefore, it may be unable to correctly assess the length of the belt and the number of revolutions it completes. In these cases, the treadmill may calculate distance inaccurately.

Important note

As we stated, many treadmills also calculate other metrics, including speed, incline, and calories burned. These metrics may be a bit more subjective and may not provide as accurate a reading as distance. The method for calculating calories burned, for instance, often requires the user to input their weight. Providing an incorrect weight can skew the calculations slightly and cause the treadmill to provide an inaccurate reading.

Find a treadmill that works for you at American Home Fitness. Browse through our online store, or stop by our fitness stores in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.