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Running for the hills: Is a treadmill incline a better way to feel the burn?

Anyone who has walked or run up a hill knows how much more challenging it is – you are fighting gravity, after all. But when using a treadmill for your workout, can the incline setting actually help you burn calories faster? The answer is a resounding yes!

Running hills activates more muscles, which in turn will increase the number of calories you burn. I get my hill work on Central Park’s rolling hills, but for those who use the treadmill, the incline feature will give you a similar workout!

Here are some more reasons you should hit the incline button next time you’re on the treadmill.

Burn more fat. Even though running burns more calories overall, lower intensity exercises like walking will burn a greater percentage of calories from fat, as explained on And you’ll build muscle – the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn while at rest!

Prevent injury. Many runners or walkers will speed up their movements in order to increase their heart rate, which causes a more intense workout. However, increasing speed may increase your risk of injury. You can up the intensity with less chance of injury by increasing the treadmill’s incline.

Tone your bum. Walking uphill on a treadmill is one of the best ways to tone your tush, according to Women’s Health Magazine. A 2007 study by researchers at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital looked at which workout machines will kick your butt the hardest – literally. Whether walking or running, using the incline feature on a treadmill was proven to tone the glutes.

Improve your performance. Adding hills to a workout regimen has proven results if you’re trying to improve your performance in a race, but it can also boost up your overall fitness levels and aerobic capacity. Professional athletes like Meb Keflezighi, the silver medalist of the Athens Olympic Marathon, incorporate hill training as an integral part of their training. Meb (who was also the first American to win the NYC Marathon since 1982!) trained on the desert hills of California’s Mammoth Mountain for optimal race-day performance. That strategy clearly worked out for him!

Using a treadmill is a great way to structure your hill workout for your specific fitness goals or level of experience. Give it a try!

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing