Fitness / Running

Your Treadmill Buttons, Translated

What does pace mean on a treadmill? We've got that covered.

So you’ve ponied up, planned your workout, gotten yourself motivated, and made it all the way to the gym without a single passing thought about turning around.

You’ve loaded your new favorite treadmill workout (Juju On That Beat, or perhaps HIIT Remix), approached one of the many lined-up treadmills (or your home one), and pressed ON… only to be met with a slew of treadmill buttons.

Even some of the most elite indoor runners avoid certain buttons simply because they’re unsure of what they do or mean.

Sound familiar? Worry not. Aaptiv is here to act as your personal translator.

We’re decoding the display and going back to basics to clue in beginners and refresh avid indoor runners on exactly what those treadmill buttons mean. These are the words and phrases you’re most likely to see the next time you step on the belt.

If we missed a button you’re unsure of, let us know in the comments and we’ll tackle it next!

What the buttons on your treadmill mean


This button is fairly straightforward, once you begin your workout, this function records and displays how long you’ve been walking, jogging, or running. Be aware, it’s not uncommon for a treadmill to automatically go into cool-down mode after 30 or 60 minutes.

If this is the case and you’re starting a longer workout (for instance, You’ve Got Hills or Where Are You Running?), increase your workout time before you hit the start button, or, simply take a short break to use the restroom, stretch your hamstrings, and drink some water before starting again.


This is typically measured in English miles or metric kilometers. When measuring in miles, a 3 on screen represents 3 mph. Likewise, a 5 translates to 5 mph and so forth. The same goes for metric kilometers, where a 5 on screen represents 5 kph and so forth. You should have the settings option to choose between the two. In both cases you can adjust your speed by increments of 0.1. To compare mph and kph you can refer to this chart. The right speed for each person differs greatly, based on athleticism, training goals, body type, and workout.


The include button indicates how vertical the running surface is—this may be displayed as a number or a percent. When upped, incline simulates the feeling of running uphill, upslope, or up a ramp. The higher the percent grade or level, the steeper the “hill.”


This is the measurement of the distance you’ve covered throughout your workout. Distance on a treadmill is usually tracked by belt revolutions. Like speed, distance can be measured in either miles or kilometers. Quick tip: Regardless of whether or not you’re at an incline, the distance you run is the same, although the intensity changes.


While speed is the number of miles per hour, pace is the number of minutes per mile. Knowing your pace enables you to train for and reach timed mile, race, and general fitness goals. You can also use our running pace calculator to convert your speed to pace. Be sure to check out our other health calculators as well to calculate your BMI or daily calorie intake you should be consuming.

Heart rate monitor

For starters, your heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats per minute. The handles on either side of you while on the treadmill are actually censors that, when grabbed, measure your heart rate as you workout.

This is picked up through the pulse in your palms and fingertips and, provided you’re not moving too much, can give an accurate number. This can be useful when gauging whether you’re under or over training, however, to maintain good running form it’s best that you don’t hold onto the sides or handles of a treadmill.

With this in mind, you may want to invest in a wearable heart rate monitor (like this best seller) if this is a measurement you want to keep track of.


This button displays the number of calories burned throughout your workout based on height, weight, speed, distance, and incline. It is important to note that this is an approximate calculation and not always precise.


Properly known as Metabolic Equivalents, METs translates to the estimated amount of oxygen burned during your workout. Usually, humans burn 3.5ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight each minute when at rest, or 1.0 MET.

The treadmill uses your height, weight, speed, and incline to calculate how many METs of oxygen you’re burning while running. For example, if the display reads 5 METs, you’re likely working five times harder than you do at rest. This number will change as your fitness level increases.


If you’re looking to simply hop on the treadmill and get going, the quick start button is your best friend. Give it a push and then manually increase your speed and incline levels to make your workout more challenging.

Speed interval

Not all treadmills offer this button, but, if yours does it’s a good one to know. This can be a great function to use if you’re doing an interval workout. Start by pressing the button and entering your workout time and weight. Then, enter your low speed. After that, enter the fastest speed at which you’ll be running your intervals. Then, hit enter or begin. Once you’ve done this you can hit the “speed interval” button to toggle between your two chosen speeds—it’s a great shortcut.

Feeling fluent? Use all of your new-found knowledge to blast through a number of Aaptiv treadmill routines, like Take It From A Walk To A Run, What Are You Made Of?, or Keep It Burning.

Fitness Running


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