A treadmill safety key

Between 1997 and 2014, almost 5,000 people ended up in an emergency room with a head injury from a treadmill accident.

Here are six treadmill safety tips from CR experts to help you stay safe.

Give it plenty of space. Leave at least 2 feet of clearance on either side of a treadmill and 6 feet behind it to avoid falling into a wall or being wedged between the machine and a wall or a piece of furniture if you lose your balance.

Always use the safety key. It clips onto your clothing and stops the belt if you fall to prevent additional injury, such as friction burns.


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Straddle the belt when you turn on the treadmill. This will keep you from getting knocked off your feet.

Never step off a moving treadmill. Let the belt come to a complete stop before dismounting.

Keep your head up. You’re more likely to lose your balance when you’re looking at your feet.

Maintain the machine. Lubricate it according to the manufacturer’s directions, tighten loose hardware (only using manual tools), and wipe up any sweat—especially on the hand grips and controls—after each use.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the January 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.