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Updated: April 28, 2021
Treadmill safety is important if you plan to use one to exercise at home. In many ways, treadmills are safer than exercising outdoors. There are no angry dogs, blind curbs, speeding cars or uneven asphalt in your home! With the recent pandemic, many people have purchased a treadmill to use at home.
However, as with any piece of equipment, treadmills must be used and stored properly to ensure safety for you and your family. Recently, the federal Consumer Protection Service Commission (CPSC) issued a warning over the Peloton Tread+ treadmill due to documented injuries to both pets and children and horribly, one child’s death.
In order to safely use any treadmill, here are some important safety tips to remember.
Treadmill Safety Tips Prior to Use:
#1: Read the Owner’s Manual
Before you ever step on your new treadmill – read the entire Owner’s Manual. The Owner’s Manual will specify how to plug and unplug your treadmill, where the power switch is, and how to use the safety key. These three elements are the primary barriers to prevent accidents or injury to children and pets.
Be aware of the power requirements for your treadmill. If a particular model requires a dedicated circuit, make sure you know this initially. Improper wattage can damage both your electrical circuit and your treadmill. If you are overseas, use an appropriate adapter as recommended by the manufacturer.
Some manufacturers will recommend a treadmill be unplugged after each use. Others may specify to turn off the power switch at the end of each session. We recommend both. While it may seem redundant, turning off the treadmill and unplugging it will prevent accidents with children. If a child sees you unplug the treadmill when you’re done, they may just walk over and plug it back in when you leave. By turning off the power switch and unplugging it, you have activated two barriers of protection rather than just one.
Know how your treadmill is activated. This may seem simple, but some treadmills will start in “Manual Mode” from the start screen or main menu as soon as you touch a speed button. Others require you to select Manual Mode or a specific program before the belt will move. While the jump-on-and-go method is convenient from a training standpoint, it can be more dangerous if a child can start the belt by just touching one button or turning a knob.
Verify the safety key is present and functional. Begin a program and then remove the safety key. Make sure the treadmills stops immediately and cannot be restarted if the safety key is detached.
Fully understand the layout and functionality of the console. Some treadmills can only be activated via touchscreen buttons while others have manual buttons on the console. Many have both options, which means you can turn on or increase speed in a number of different ways. Take time to fully use and understand your treadmill so you are aware of the different ways it can be turned on or up.
#2: Place the Treadmill in an Appropriate Location
Peloton recommends the Tread+ only be used in a locked room away from children and pets. We recommend all fitness equipment be stored away from children and pets at all times. A garage, basement or separate room with a door that locks is ideal. Lock the door when you are finished to ensure children can’t enter and play with equipment when you’re not there. (This holds true for all fitness equipment: kettlebells, weighted balls, resistance bands, jump ropes, dumbbells, etc.)
While having a separate space is ideal, not everyone has a dedicated room in their home to place their treadmill. (Ok, realistically, most of us don’t). If this is the case, carefully consider your home and measure where you plan to put the treadmill.
- Evaluate who will have access to it (Teenagers, children, pets?)
- Confirm how much space is needed for safe operation (Do you have enough ceiling clearance for any incline? Will people be able to get around it when it’s open?)
- Anticipate what will happen to it when you’re not around (Will it become a coat hanger, shoe rack or storage shelf?)
Do not place a treadmill near stairs or a door since treadmills can “walk” slightly during use and may impact a door or get too close to the edge of stairs.
If there is a ceiling fan in your room, verify you have enough overhead clearance when the treadmill is fully inclined. Measure this based on the tallest user at the maximum incline and add several inches for “bounce” when running.
Do not place your treadmill in a high-traffic area, even if you have all adults in your home. Expecting people to walk around or step over the treadmill is not a good idea. Even adults can trip or hit their head on a folded treadmill.
Do not plan to move your treadmill regularly. While many treadmills fold and have wheels, they are still heavy and difficult to move. Smaller users may hurt themselves folding and rolling a treadmill. We recommend most treadmills be placed where you plan to use them – out of the way of foot traffic – and then folded and locked vertically when not in use.
Do not place your treadmill near low hanging curtains or drapes. Be aware of cords for blinds that may inadvertently hang low when a window shade is open.
Discuss your plan to get a treadmill with family members, roommates and others who will be affected by it in the home.
#3: Verify your Treadmill Is Appropriately Sized & Powered
If you are a larger user, buy a treadmill that supports your weight and height. Don’t try to make a compact treadmill work simply to save a few dollars or fit it in a tight space. We recommend users over 6 feet tall get a treadmill that is at least 20” wide and 60” long. Shorter, narrower treadmills may not provide enough room for a full stride. Check the maximum weight capacity and do not exceed it – regardless of your intent to “lose weight.”
Similarly, if you have multiple users in your home, buy a treadmill that is rated for several users or longer hours. Motors can overheat or wear out with extensive use so if you have three people who plan to walk everyday for an hour – that’s three hours of daily use.
Treadmill Safety Tips During Use:
#1: Immediately Attach the Safety Key to your Clothing
Every treadmill includes a red safety key with a cord and clip so you can attach one end to your clothing while the other end is attached to the console. As soon as you get on the machine, and before you start a program, attach one end to your clothing. If you step off the treadmill or move and the key comes detached, the treadmill will stop immediately. This is the most important safety precaution when using a treadmill.
#2: Use Precaution When Getting On and Off the Treadmill
When first stepping on the treadmill, step onto the side rails and hold the handrail until both feet are fully on the belt.
Make sure you have good balance and feel stable before you start a program.
Listen for the safety “beep.” Nearly every treadmill will issue a warning beep or 3-2-1 countdown prior to the belt beginning to move. Familiarize yourself with this sound so you are aware the belt is beginning to move.
Hold onto the handrails when necessary but don’t lean on them or use them for support. Leaning on the railings or the display will detract from your workout’s intensity and could throw off your balance.
When getting off the treadmill, wait until the belt comes to a full stop, then step on the side rails and onto the floor. If the belt is moving too fast and you need to use the side rails as a safety measure, step onto them and immediately slow the belt speed. Do not attempt to jump onto a moving belt from the side rails.
#3: Pay Attention
When using your treadmill, make sure that you are paying attention at all times. Never run with your eyes closed. Surprisingly, this is one of the most common reasons people fall off treadmills.
Pay attention to what is going on around you. If older children or other adults are around, advise them you are on the treadmill. If you are listening to music, make sure you can hear ambient noise in the room in case someone needs to get your attention.
Know your limitations and exercise within them. Never run faster than you feel comfortable. Never “test” your limits by attempting a speed you can’t manage. Slowly increase your speed until you feel comfortable and then adjust from there. Don’t just hit 9mph and then try to keep up!
Only get on a treadmill if you feel 100%. If you feel poorly, exercising is never advisable.
Avoid looking at televisions not directly in front of the treadmill. Keep your eyes forward. Try not to turn and look at other people or objects in the room while you are running. This can throw off your balance and cause a fall. Also, your body tends to follow your gaze, so if you look left, you may find your stride drifts left slightly. This could cause your foot to hit the side rail and cause a fall.
Do not drink out of a bottle while jogging or running. Always make sure you’re walking at a slow pace while hydrating.
#4: Wear Proper Gear
Wear proper running shoes with laces tied tightly. Shoes with worn tread and loose laces can–and do–cause slipping and falling.
Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing that can get tangled up in or on the machine.
Headphones with cords should be avoided. They, too, can become a trip hazard or tangled distraction.
Do not drape a jacket, towel or other clothing over the handrails where it can slip onto the belt and tangle your feet.
Treadmill Safety Tips After Use:
#1: Remove Safety Key, Turn off, Unplug, and Lock Machine Properly
Remove and store the safety key away from the treadmill. Put the key in the same place after every use. Make sure it is up high and away from where children could find it.
Turn off the treadmill power switch. Most treadmills have a power switch close to where the cord goes into the base of the machine. Find this switch and turn it off after every use.
Unplug the treadmill and move the cord so it’s not dangling right in front of a wall outlet. Make it as difficult as possible for a child to accidentally turn on the machine.
Fold up and lock the machine as instructed. Some treadmills fold and some don’t. Make sure the treadmill is properly folded and locked according to the manufacturer’s directions.
When possible, exit the room and lock the door behind you.
Enjoy Your Treadmill
Treadmills are an excellent way to exercise in the safety of your own home. With these common-sense safety measures and good maintenance, owners can use and enjoy their treadmills safely for many years. If you’re looking for a treadmill that suits your home and cardio needs, check out reviews of our recommended treadmills.