Low-Impact Treadmills

Muscular male legs

You can get an effective aerobic workout using a treadmill even if you suffer from joint pain, chronic leg or muscle injuries, or if you think you are too overweight to use such a machine. The answer is a low-impact treadmill or treadmill alternative. This type of cardiovascular exercise machine offers the health benefits of a treadmill but with less impact on your joints.

The Facts

If you suffer from sore joints or have a chronic joint-inflammation disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, you may find it painful to run or walk on a traditional treadmill deck. However, a low-impact treadmill or treadmill alternative will allow you to get exercise with little or no joint pain. According to the Family Doctor website, those suffering from RA or similar joint-inflammation diseases can benefit from regular exercise. Exercise can help to ease joint pain naturally, and it can help you maintain a healthy weight, which plays a major factor in easing the pressure on your joints.


You may benefit from a low-impact treadmill in several different cases. Joint- or knee-pain sufferers can use a low-impact treadmill with less pain that with a traditional model. Secondly, a low-impact treadmill is the ideal choice if you are recovering from a joint, knee, tendon or muscle injury that needs to be exercised but is too painful to rehab on a regular treadmill. Finally, if you suffer from pain or loss of feeling in your feet when using a traditional treadmill, you may be able to benefit from a low-impact treadmill.


Treadmills, including low-impact treadmills, provide significant health benefits when used regularly, and are particularly useful when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor exercise. According to the fitness experts at the NutriStrategy website, a 155-pound person walking at a moderate pace — 3.5 miles per hour — can burn 267 calories per hour. The same person can burn more than 400 calories per hour by increasing the incline of the treadmill deck. Completed daily, this workout regimen burns at least 1,800 calories per week, or the equivalent of about a half-pound of body weight.


There are several types of low-impact treadmills on the market. The Orbiter Treadmill, for example, offers a trampoline-like deck that cushions your feet as you walk or run. Another low-impact treadmill is the TreadClimber from manufacturer Bowflex. This machine uses two individual decks — one for each of your feet — that simulate an uphill or stair-stepper action with less pressure on your joints. A quick way to lessen the impact of a traditional treadmill is to increase the incline of the deck, which effectively lowers the impact pressure on your joints to comfortable levels in some cases.


There are several alternatives to low-impact treadmills that offer the same type of aerobic workout with less of a jarring effect on your joints. One alternative is biking. Whether on a stationary bike or a traditional bike, bicycling offers a low-impact aerobic workout ideal for most people with joint pain. A second alternative to low-impact treadmills is water aerobics. Many gyms and fitness centers offer water aerobics classes; these work well for joint-pain sufferers because the water provides resistance while lessening the pressure on all of your joints. Two other alternatives are ski or elliptical cardio machines, which both offer the similar cardio benefits of a treadmill workout but with less impact on bones and joints.