How Much Ceiling Clearance Do I Need To Use A Treadmill?

Treadmills are a great way to get your miles in, especially during extra hot or extra cold weather. The question you might be faced with now is how much ceiling clearance do you need to use one?

It is a good general practice to have at least eight feet of clearance (ceiling to floor) for a treadmill. On a case-by-case basis, you can take your height on the treadmill and add 6 extra inches on top or 12″ if the treadmill has more than 10 degrees of maximum incline.

Eight feet might seem like a lot of space to you, but there is indeed a good reason for it. We’ll discuss that reason, plus a few other benefits, later on.

The Right Treadmill And The Right Location

The primary reason for needing so much extra space for your treadmill is, obviously, a question of safety. If you squeeze an overlarge treadmill into an inadequate space, you pose risks to yourself and your property. Just imagine how annoying it will be to be constantly knocking your elbows on the wall, bonking your head on a low rafter, or something similar. You will avoid head injuries if you have enough room to accommodate your treadmill.

Suggested post: How much space do you need around a treadmill?

Additionally, if people are continually trying to slip past the treadmill in its tiny area, you also risk having people trip over the treadmill or you. A rapidly turning belt deserves a bit of elbow room for everyone’s safety! This being the case, you should just purchase a smaller, more compact treadmill, right? Wrong! Narrow, compact treadmills are far less comfortable to use, plus they greatly limit your stride.

Having an eight or nine-foot ceiling is ideal, but if the best you can do is seven feet, you probably need to be a little more cautious with the measurements. If you measure and come up with a height that is less than or equal to your ceiling’s height, you are golden.

Remember that you’ll likely need a mat under your treadmill which will take up about 1/3″. Not much but every little bit counts. Read more about treadmill mats here.

An ideal place to keep your treadmill is an empty room in the house where it will not be disturbed and people will not be disturbed by it. Your bedroom is also an okay place for it. If you were to purchase a folding treadmill, it would be far easier to store and you would have more options of places to put it. You can also use your garage or basement to store your treadmill but exercise caution. Both of these places tend to have lower ceiling clearance, so measure and plan accordingly.

Want to know what else to think about when picking a place for a treadmill?. Click here for the best spots.

If you are living in a place with low ceilings, do not worry! There are options for you, a few of which are in the table below:

These treadmills are excellent for homes with low ceilings.

Suggested post: 6 Treadmills with the lowest step up height.

Do’s And Don’ts: Safety Tips For Use

Image of a person running on a treadmill.
Man running in a gym on a treadmill concept for exercising, fitness and healthy lifestyle

If you are going to install/place and use a treadmill, do it right. Here are a few dos and don’ts you should be aware of before getting started!

Even if you are a fairly short person, a treadmill will add several inches to your height. You’ll also be bounding up and down when you run, so you’re at risk in an area with low ceilings. 8 feet is the best standard to aim for but try for at least 8 inches of space above your head if nothing else.

Suggested post: The best cardio machines for use under low ceilings.

Besides the height, it’s also important to get the right size treadmill belt for your purposes. A treadmill that’s too small can mean you limit yourself, because there is not enough space for your feet to land. For most people a belt size of 20″ by 60″ is suitable. Read more about the right size treadmill belt for you.

As mentioned before, you need to leave plenty of space for your treadmill. When you are using it in a place with low clearance or tight corners, you could very well suffer a head injury or the like. If it is too close to the wall and you happened to slip, you’d slam right into it. It may take extra time to measure everything out, but in the long run, you won’t be sorry you took the time to do it right.

If you get tired and need to take a break do so, be shut the machine off first. If your pet or small child happened upon the treadmill without realizing it was running, that could pose all sorts of problems. Plants, cords, garbage, and other household items could easily get caught up in the machinery if it’s in a camped space.

Suggested: How to hide a treadmill in a room

It is also advisable to face forward when using your treadmill. If you are constantly distracted and glancing around, you could very well take a wrong step off the side or trip over your feet.

Do not ever stand on the treadmill when you start it up. Treadmills are designed to start slowly and gradually gain speed. However, this safety feature can cause a malfunction if the treadmill gives a sudden burst of speed instead of starting at a measured pace. This can take you off your feet if you are not careful, so straddle the treadmill when starting it up rather than standing directly on it. It is also a good idea to wear running shoes when on the treadmill to avoid scrapes, burns, and blisters.

Image of a woman walking on an inclined treadmill.

Additionally, you need to make sure your speed and intensity are not too high. If you find yourself having to hold on to the rails for dear life, that might be a sign that you need to slow it down a bit. If you are just a beginner, be sure you know what all of the buttons on your machine do before getting started.

Starting slow is probably one of the most important things to remember when becoming a treadmill user. If you start too fast it might not only cause harm or do damage but it could very likely decrease your motivation. If it feels too hard, most people will not want to keep going. Warm up before you start running. This will help your body to feel ready for the workout and allow you to perform at your best.

Be repetitive with your workouts so that your body can settle into a routine and use that routine to up your game. You should also do your best to stay light on your feet. If your footfalls are constantly heavy it could lead to the development of shin splints or something twice as annoying and painful.

Always make sure your treadmill is up to scratch and running properly, especially if your treadmill is older or secondhand. Treadmills do need maintenance now and then and keeping up with it will make them last longer. Read more about treadmill maintenance in this post.

Once you’re familiar with running on a treadmill, consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) This is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.

Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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