10 Ways to Make Treadmill Workouts Less Boring

by | Updated: June 21st, 2019 | Read time: 5 minutes

Sometimes, just thinking about the (dread)mill makes you want to blow off your workout completely. Indeed, the hamster wheel can feel pretty monotonous compared to running or walking outside. There’s no scenery or breeze blowing through your hair. But when bad weather or rough terrain keep you indoors, the ‘mill may be your only choice. That’s when you need these treadmill running tips to motivate you to get moving! 

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10 Treadmill Running Tips to Make Workouts More Fun

Sure, an energy drink or fruity pre-workout can get you amped, but that might not be enough to maintain your enthusiasm the entire time. What will work is having a few smart moves up your (short) sleeves.

Here’s how not to get bored on a treadmill:

1. Always play with the buttons

One of the best ways to avoid boredom on the treadmill is to keep busy. So start playing with all of the buttons on the board, including the incline (percent) and speed (miles per hour). You could, for instance, increase the incline and pick up the speed for a couple of minutes, lower back down and repeat using different inclines and speeds. Or, after you’ve warmed up (reminder: here’s how to warm up before a workout), take the incline to 10 percent. Every minute, lower the incline by 0.5 percent and increase the speed slightly, about 0.1 to 0.3 miles per hour.

2. Cover up the board

Don’t watch the clock! Even seconds will drag on if you spend your entire workout staring at the time. Besides, there’s a quick solution: Cover the screen with your gym towel. When you get the urge to peek, challenge yourself to wait a little longer. Before you know it, 10 minutes has gone by and you’re cruising. Of course, if you need to change the incline or speed, you may have to lift the towel and take a look. Just try not to fixate on the timeclock.   

3. Focus on yourself

Whether you’re strength training or running on a treadmill, it’s important to know how to stay focused on working out. One way to do that is to tune into the mind-muscle connection. When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, that means feeling your heart beating in your chest, your lungs rising and falling with each breath, as well as your arms and legs propelling you forward. It also helps to remind yourself that this treadmill workout is the “me time” you need to get through the day. This is all about you and YOUR body!

4. Set goals

Hop on the treadmill with a specific goal in mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broad focus, like “I’m going to run for 20 minutes without stopping.” Or, you could get nitty-gritty and tell yourself you are going to run two minutes, and then walk for three minutes. You can also set fitness goals for distance (“Don’t stop until you hit 3.1 miles!”). Whatever it is, establish a benchmark that excites you and feels within your limits for that day.

5. Create an awesome playlist

Making a playlist of your favorite songs is, perhaps, the easiest way to have a fun treadmill workout. Whether you choose a mix of ‘70s, ‘80s, hard rock, rap or disco doesn’t matter. If you love the songs, you’ll love your workout. Just make sure the beat of the songs matches the speed of your walk or run on the treadmill. With a strong playlist, you’ll be singing along and getting so lost in the music you forget you’re exercising.

6. Turn on some entertainment

Who has the time to Netflix and chill? You do, now! A treadmill workout is a great opportunity to catch up on any series you might have missed but have been dying to watch. Simply place your smartphone or tablet on the treadmill stand, put in your earbuds and zone out. Just be sure the speed is set to a decent pace so your heart rate stays elevate. Unless you have issues with dizziness or motion sickness, try not to stroll through this workout. It should still be challenging.

7. Listen and learn

Listening to a podcast is an excellent way to keep your brain busy. The best part is there are endless amounts of podcasts available. Whether you want to learn more about fitness, nutrition, travel, sports, finance or marketing, you’ll find something for you. Plus, you’ll feel so accomplished by working both your mind and body at the same time.

8. Tone up

Incorporating strength-based exercises while you’re on the treadmill not only eliminates boredom, but gives you a more well-rounded workout. Try to take the treadmill on the very end, so you have room to move around. For comfort and ease, place a yoga mat next to your machine along with a set of light dumbbells (3-5 lbs.).

Now, follow this fun treadmill workout, where you alternate between dumbbell/bodyweight exercises on the mat and 5-10 minutes of running/walking on the treadmill:

Warm up for 5 minutes

Perform 10 reps of each:

  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Crunches

Run/walk for 5-10 minutes

Perform 10 reps of each:

  • Squat to biceps curl
  • Plank with dumbbell low row

Run/walk for 5-10 minutes



Misery loves company, which is exactly why you should bring your own friend (BYOF) to the gym. Instead of meeting for lunch or coffee, plan a workout date. While you’re both on the treadmill, you can vent about work, catch up on each other’s family life or chit-chat about your favorite TV shows. Having a friend will instantly beat boredom and may even push you to work a little harder. Let’s say your friend is a slightly stronger runner. While you may have a hard time keeping up with them outside, the treadmill helps even the playing field. Here, you can increase the speed in a controlled setting and no one gets left behind.

10. Use an app

This list of treadmill running tips would not be complete without a nod to mobile applications. After all, apps are the answer to everything these days, including how not to get bored on a treadmill. Simply search your preferred app store, and you’ll easily find a variety of exciting options. Everything from pre-designed HIIT workouts to six-week weight-loss plans are available right at your fingertips. Even if you just need some motivational coaching to talk you through a run, there’s an app for that.

Have you tried any of these treadmill running tips before? What else have you done to add variety to your treadmill routine? Let us know in the comments below.