Is Watching TV On A Treadmill Safe?

Is watching tv on a treadmill safe?

Is watching TV on a treadmill safe? While watching TV may motivate you to exercise more often or for longer, there are risks involved with this practice

If you struggle to motivate yourself to work out, you might wonder, is watching TV on a treadmill safe? The short answer is no because distraction can lead to disaster or reduced productivity. However, the longer answer is that you can watch TV while on a treadmill if you’re doing so in a specific way. Let’s dig in.

Why Watching TV On A Treadmill Is A Bad Idea

The consensus from experts is that you should not watch TV while running or walking on a treadmill. You might also find our explainer on the correct arm position while running helpful. 

It Causes Neck Strain

Is watching tv on a treadmill safe?
All of these body parts should be lined up

It’s important to face forward with your heart, head, and hips while on a treadmill. All of these body parts should be lined up. If you’re looking down at the TV screen, or if you’re looking up high by watching a wall-mounted TV, you’re not looking straight ahead. 

In this awkward position, you’re at risk of injuring your neck. If you’re going to watch TV while on a treadmill, be sure you’re not craning your neck. 

You Burn Fewer Calories

Who knew that watching TV on a treadmill burns fewer calories? It’s not the TV that’s the problem in this situation. The fact is, when you’re engrossed in a TV show, your main focus is on that. For this reason, you won’t work as hard if you’re watching TV. 

Many people hold onto the sides of the treadmill if they’re watching TV. This causes you to work less and, therefore, burn fewer calories. 

Equally important, when you do the same thing all the time, it easily becomes repetitive, and you do the task on autopilot. You may stick with the same incline and speed and fail to mix up your workout frequently. For an effective workout, you need to shock your body with incline and speed intervals periodically. 

Stress Relief Benefits Are Reduced

Stress relief is one of the primary benefits of working out. When you watch TV while on the treadmill, your mind goes into a sort of meditative state. While on the surface, it seems that this would be relaxing, it’s really not. It’s actually escapism. What happens is that when the session is over, the stressful stuff is still there waiting for you. 

Benefits Of Watching TV On A Treadmill

Just to be sure I’m exploring and presenting all sides, I do want to point out some of the benefits of watching TV while you’re running or walking on a treadmill. You might also be interested in our explainer on can you run barefoot on a treadmill

Workout Guidance

Workout guidance
A TV can provide workout guidance if it’s an instructional video

Watching TV during your workout doesn’t have to be the latest legal drama or sitcom. A TV can provide workout guidance if it’s an instructional video, and some of these types of videos can be both entertaining and motivating. 

Multi-Tasking And Motivation

If the only way you’ll hop on the treadmill is that you can catch up on your shows while you do it, then, by all means, do that. The important thing is that you get your workout in.

While watching TV while running or walking isn’t the best idea, if that’s what it takes to get you moving, then you should use that. Ideally, you’ll eventually get to a point where you listen to music while working out instead. 


If you don’t love working out, watching TV can make a treadmill run or walk speed by. Again, whatever gets you moving is what you should do. 

What You Can Do Instead of Watching TV On A Treadmill

If listening to your own thoughts isn’t your favorite thing to do while working out, there are other things you can do to help the time pass in an entertaining way. First, pop in your earbuds or Air Pods. Then listen to any of these things. 

  • High-tempo music: Research has shown that listening to music while working out makes your workout more effective. Here’s another bonus: When you listen to music while you run or do another workout, you’ll actually work harder. One study even found that when listening to music, cyclists used less oxygen to do the same amount of work. 
  • Podcasts: If you like to feel productive even when working out, plug into one of your favorite podcasts. While listening to podcasts doesn’t offer the same benefits as music, entertaining yourself with a podcast is better than watching TV.
  • Audiobooks: Do you love science fiction or romance novels? Get your books on audio and escape into your favorite adventure.