Manual VS Automatic Treadmill – Making The Right Choice

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Are you a fitness freak? Then treadmill is one of the best exercise equipment used to burn your calories effectively.

A treadmill is a perfect option for cardio workouts, but you need to ensure that you’re getting the right machine, as per your need & lifestyle. For best results, you can switch between curved manual treadmill and motorized treadmill to get effective workouts.

Before going to purchase a treadmill, the first question arises is whether to purchase a manual one or motorized treadmill. Even though both are beneficial for the fitness regime and each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Now let’s know the difference between these two types and which one suits perfectly for your requirement?

Manual/Non-Motorized/Self-Powered Treadmill

The belt of the manual treadmill moves due to the action of your feet against the deck. Here the belt moves until you keep moving on it. Either walkers or runners spend more effort and had higher heart rates at the same speed when compared with a motorized treadmill. For runners, the curved-belt treadmill is considered most than flat belt one. Whereas for walkers, either one is considered. So, a manual treadmill allows you to get a more intense workout at a lower speed.

Advantages of Manual Treadmill:

  • Affordable / less expensive than motorized option.
  • It allows you to spend more calories per mile. Great for walkers and let you exercise your lower body by keeping a regular pace.
  • Can be used anywhere, as it won’t require any power/electricity to run the device. All you need is your muscle power to operate the machine.
  • It let you stop easily, and you won’t have to wear a safety cord. It is safe for your children and pets as well.
  • Most of the Athletic trainers use curved-belt manual treadmills to have a high-intensity interval workout.
  • The flat-belt manual treadmills suit perfect for walking rather than running, if you want to use a treadmill for running, then choose a curved-belt treadmill.
  • Smaller, compact and easy to assemble option that can be moved easily than an electric one.
  • It requires less maintenance and care due to few moving parts without any motor.


  • You have to power up the machine to move the belt, which may cause you to get tired easily, and thereby burn fewer calories.
  • They are hard on joints and causes a lot of strain on the joints while moving on the belt. If you’re suffering from any ankle, joint or knee problems, then avoid using this manual treadmill.
  • It has a lack of features like apps, built-in workouts, and other features showing work out details as distance covered, speed, calories burned, heart rate, etc.
  • Manual treadmills have a less sturdy construction and are not as durable as electric ones. It doesn’t have heavy materials like motor and sturdy frame to support the treadmill by adding weight and stability.
  • Get off from your treadmill to set the incline.

Motorized/Electric/Powered Treadmills

Equipped with a motor that will set the belt in motion and assist you while you are running or walking. Its ease of usage will make it preferred as the best option for people who are starting a new fitness regime at their home. The horsepower of the motor should be at least 1.5 continuous horsepower (CHP). But for heavier users and higher speeds, you need to have a motor with more HP.

Advantages of Electric Treadmill:

  • Expensive & last longer
  • Belts move at varying speeds and thus motivates to keep up and result in burning of morecalories.
  • It let you adjust the incline and speed and thus, makes it more convenient and less/no strain on joints while workouts.
  • Due to its additional cushioning and shock absorption on the deck, it makes you feel comfortable to run/walk on it.
  • One can run at a constant pace to achieve their workout goals easily why because all the parameters like incline, speed and distance are set on the device.
  • These are stronger, bigger, heavier, and stable than non-motorized treadmills.
  • It offers more workout options and features by selecting from pre-set programs or create your own, to make your workout more effectively and burn your calories.
  • With its abundant features like speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, heart rate monitors, smartphone syncing, tablet holders, it makes your workout enjoyable and perfect for longer training sessions.


  • It requires electricity to run the treadmill. So, you have to place it near an electrical outlet.
  • It can be a safety hazard and won’t stop if you fall due to any distraction. One has to wear a safety cord to stop it in case of any fall.
  • Costs higher than manual treadmills. It is hard to find an acceptable quality motorized treadmill for under $1000.
  • Bulkier and consumes more space.
  • It requires maintenance and care to make the treadmill run smoothly and to extend its life.


Although, both types will aid in improving the cardiovascular endurance, strengthen your body and tone your leg muscles. It is the comparison of motorized and manual treadmills along with their pros and cons. It’s an individual decision that depends on their personal preference and lifestyle. All you need is to consider certain essential factors like budget, portability, existing physical health issue and maintenance cost.

Prefer to use a motorized treadmill for maximum calorie burning and exercise convenience whereas if you’re considering the cost then prefer to use the manual treadmill, which is best for walkers.

However, the choice is yours of buying an either manual or motorized treadmill, let me know which one you prefer and why in the below comments section.

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