Treadmills: How Much Space Do You Need To Use One?

Treadmills are large pieces of equipment and you need a good bit of space to place it. But how much extra space do you need to actually use your treadmill. Here’s your answer.

To properly use a treadmill have at least 2″ of free space on all sides and about 2 feet at the rear to be able to get on/off it. Also, it’s necessary to have a ceiling that’s your height +21″ tall to make sure you can use the treadmill on max incline without hitting your head.

Keep reading below to find out the details of the space you need, and why.

How Much Space Do You Need For a Treadmill?

Now you’re wondering how much floor space you actually need for a treadmill? Of course you can look up the exact size of a treadmill and that’s how much floor space you need to place it in a room. But how much space do you actually need to use it?

Suggested: Treadmill Dimensions List

Let’s see how much space you need around your treadmill to properly use it. You can then simply add those margins to the dimensions of your specific treadmill to see how much floor space you need.

Looking for a good spot to put your treadmill? Click here for a breakdown of the best places.

Free Length & Width Around a Treadmill

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Luckily, you don’t really need all that much space around your treadmill. There are a few things that require a little space;

  • Avoid the treadmill rubbing on the walls
  • No interference in incline/decline function
  • Space to get on the treadmill

To avoid rubbing and interference in incline movement, you just need about 2” on each side and in front of the machine. It either touches the wall or it doesn’t so technically 1mm would be enough but, with use treadmills can move around a little so a bit more space is good.

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To get on the treadmill, you just need a little path to the rear of the treadmill. About two feet of space behind the treadmill will be enough to get on and off although a little more doesn’t hurt.

To find out how much free space you need to place a treadmill, take the dimensions of the treadmill and add 2” on all sides and 2 feet on the rear. That allows for enough space where nothing is touching the walls and it’s easy to get on and off.

So for example, if your treadmill measures 35″ x 75″, you’ll need a space 39″ wide and about 100″ long. That is the space when the treadmill is in use. Many domestic models can fold up the deck which means a lot smaller footprint after you’re done.

That’s what’s absolutely necessary. For comfort, you probably want more room around the treadmill. Pushing it into the corner just 2” from the wall might be a bit claustrophobic. If you have a TV on the wall you want to look at, you want to be at least a few feet away. And to get a bit of fresh air, having more space on at least one side makes things more comfortable.

Necessary Ceiling Height For a Treadmill

A part most people forget to think about is the ceiling height you need to use a treadmill. Most people forget about it because most ceilings are tall enough. But, if you’re worried about hitting your head, here’s how you can figure out if your ceiling is high enough.

There are three parts we have to think about;

  • Your height: You stand up straight during walking/running
  • Step up height of the treadmill: How high is the belt from the floor (7”-9” is common)
  • Headroom: You need a bit of space while standing on the belt so you can run.
  • Incline: Incline pushes the front of the belt in the air. That means you’ll be higher as well.

You likely already know your height and the step up height is usually easy to find. You want about 5” of headroom to allow for movement and another 7” if you want to use the incline.

So that means you need a ceiling height that is at least equal to: Your height + 21”. If you have a treadmill with low step up height (less than 7”) you can subtract a corresponding amount of inches from the 21”.

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Don’t Buy a Small Treadmill Because It Fits

That leads me to the next point. You might be tempted to buy a compact treadmill because it fits in your space. However, it’s very important to think about what you want to do with your treadmill and how big you are.

Image of a treadmill with man running on it.
Not all treadmills have the same size.

As said above, small treadmills tend to have smaller belts. Smaller can mean shorter as well as narrower.

By far, most treadmill belts are 20” wide. A few are narrower and a few are wider. 20” is the most popular width because it just works to run on for the vast majority of people in the population. If you are anywhere near a normal size, a 20” wide belt is fine.

For normal sized people as little as 16” wide is OK for just walking although 18” is better. For running 20” is much better.

Looking for a second hand treadmill? Click here for 12 buying tips.

The length of a treadmill belt is even more important. It dictates what you can do with your treadmill but it’s also dependent on your height. Let me explain;

When you run you move your feet further in one step then when walking. That means you need a longer belt to run on than to walk on otherwise your foot could land outside the belt and that’s not going to be fun. Sprinting needs more length than jogging which in turn needs more length than walking.

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How much treadmill belt length do you need exactly? That depends on your height. (Or more specifically, the length of your legs but height is a good proxy). The taller you are, the more belt length you need because your feet will land further apart.

In the following links you can find the average stride length for walking.

Stride length by height (walking)

Those are the stride lengths for walking, but that doesn’t mean that’s the size belt you need. You’ll want at least 10” extra belt length on top of your stride length. However, even the tallest person can walk on the shortest treadmill in the list above.

For running, things change quite a bit. Olympic sprinters have stride ratio (height to stride length) of 1.14 to 1.35. Those are Olympic level sprinters though. During sprinting, you take longer strides than while jogging/running. Also, Olympic athletes are a bit different from us normal people.

A good rule of thumb is multiplying your height in inches by 0.8 to get an approximation of the needed belt size to run on.

That means you have to think about; how tall you are (or any other users) and if you want to run or just walk on your treadmill. That’s why choosing a treadmill just on size is not a good idea. However, once you picked a belt size, you can choose the smallest treadmill within that category.

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Treadmill belt size chart

Here is a little chart that will help you choose the right length belt to run on.

HeightInchesBelt length


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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