The idea of an outdoor gym is fantastic. Working out in nature, with the fresh air and the sun on your back. No broken air conditioning, no condensation on the walls… you’ll have a gentle breeze to keep you cool! You can get an incredible workout in, whilst enjoying nature.
But what about keeping your treadmill outside? What do you need to consider to keep your treadmill working well and safe from the elements?
Keep reading for our guide to keeping your treadmill outside…
- 1 Weather conditions
- 2 Consider the type of treadmill you have…
- 3 General care and maintenance
- 4 Where to put your treadmill outside
- 5 What’s the surface like?
- 6 Where on my property should I put my treadmill?
- 7 When NOT to put your treadmill outside
- 8 Putting your treadmill outside – is it a good idea?
The most important point to consider is the weather. What are the conditions you’re going to be keeping your treadmill in?
I’ll call this the ‘silent’ treadmill killer. You can’t see humidity – it’s not like rain or snow, but it can be as damaging. If you live in an area with high humidity, the water in the air can corrode the parts of your treadmill over time. Excessive moisture will damage both the electrics and the components.
How to prevent humidity damage: Keep your treadmill in a well ventilated area (not stored in a corner without airflow). If you see condensation on it, wipe it down. Static water can encourage mold and mildew growth.
Temperature – including fluctuations
Extremes in temperature can destroy your treadmill. Ever seen what happens with your iPhone on a hot day? It shuts down to protect itself. Imagine your (far more basic) electronics on a treadmill if they’re stored outside in the heat. They’ll be destroyed!
Likewise, if it’s exposed to the cold it’ll get damaged too. Water ingress, freezing components etc will take their toll and ruin the treadmill.
How to prevent temperature damage: Keep the machine safe from temperature fluctuations. A thick blanket protects from the heat and cold. The treadmill can’t sweat, so the thicket blanket actually prevents sun damage.
Anyone who lives by the ocean knows one thing… salty air corrodes! Treadmills aren’t immune to this, so if you live by the coast and want to keep your treadmill outside, be prepared. Repair any damage in the paint work – if rust sets in, it’ll spread like a cancer. You can’t avoid this with a treadmill cover either.
Keep the moving parts well lubricated. Keep the paintwork in good condition and keep the treadmill dry. Regular cleaning with a damp cloth will remove the salt from the surface, preventing damage. It’ll also give a much cleaner appearance to the machine.
How to prevent salty air damage: Keep the machine clean – remove any salt build up. Lubricate ALL moving parts frequently. Repair any paint damage immediately to prevent rust setting in.
If you live in an area with a lot of bright sunlight… lucky you! It can cause problems with a treadmill though. Your machine can suffer ‘sun bleaching’, whereby the coloring is bleached out.
Next up you’ve got to consider the screen damage – the thin plastic that covers the LCD screen doesn’t offer much protection. The screen can be damaged if it’s left in the glare of the sun for too long.
Finally there’s a temperature issue. Sunlight is often present with heat, so remember to protect against heat damage.
How to prevent sun exposure damage: Keep your machine in the shade if you can. If you can’t, buy a good quality cover for it – ideally with a reflective surface. Orientate the screen so it points away from the direct sunlight to protect against it.
If you live in an area of high rainfall, think twice about putting your treadmill outside, unless you can ensure it’s covered underneath a shelter. I can’t stress this enough… you can’t get your machine wet! You’ll destroy it very quickly if you do.
Consider the type of treadmill you have…
Different machines will respond to different types of conditions. Here’s what you need to think about…
More electrics… bigger potential issues
If you have a traditional flat belt treadmill with a console, there’s likely to be a lot of electronics. These can be damaged in elevated moisture levels, so be vigilant. Likewise, the metal frame under the deck can be water damaged, so always keep the machine covered.
You’ll also have to think about your power supply. The plug will need to be protected from the elements too.
Wooden slats or rubber slats on your treadmill belt?
Wooden and rubber slat belts are less likely to be damaged by water (the rubber is waterproof and the wood is protected), but they are likely to suffer at the hands of sun exposure. Rubber can perish, and protective coatings can be damaged on wood. Keep it covered when not in use.
Ideally, a slat treadmill will be in a shaded area to prevent sun damage.
A normal treadmill belt can be chewed on by small rodents, so again keep it covered. A damaged belt can lead to costly repairs.
General care and maintenance
A treadmill needs general looking after regardless of where it is kept outside, so you need to stay on top of these basics…
Keep the treadmill well covered
Buy the best quality cover you can afford. It has to be waterproof (unexpected rain showers can be a problem), and UV protective. The thicker the cover, the better. It’ll keep the cold at bay, but it’ll also prevent a treadmill from becoming too hot in the sunshine.
Do NOT cover it with a cotton cover. It’s not UV protective. It’s not water proof and it’ll hold on to water, making the treadmill stay wet for longer. I’d recommend a custom treadmill cover that is thick and waterproof. It’s best if it’s made to fit as well.
Avoid getting wet
This one is vital. Never let your treadmill get wet. Sure, sweating on it etc is fine, but if you leave it in the rain you’ll be buying a replacement very quickly. If the machine gets wet it can remove the lubricants, damage the electronics and will be a starter for rust.
Maintain the lubricants
Moving parts on anything need lubricant, so keep on top of the lubrication in a treadmill kept outdoors. Look underneath the machine (they’re easy enough to lift up from the back) and give them a quick spray with WD40.
Depending on how long it’s outside for, this will be around a once per month job.
Keep it clean at all times
A treadmill stored outside is more likely to get dirty… birds may try to use your treadmill for target practice, grass cuttings etc might find their way towards your treadmill. It means you’ll always need to stay on top of cleaning it.
A simple wiping down will be good, unless it gets very dirty (which it should never do).
Where to put your treadmill outside
A few important factors to consider when you decide where your treadmill will live…
Do you have a sheltered spot?
Sheltered spots will mean you’ll avoid the worst of the rain. It’ll be away from the sun damage and the wind won’t be a big problem. This is your primary spot – even if it means taking the machine a little further than you’d like to have done!
Do you need external power?
If your treadmill needs a power point, that’ll determine where you can put it, unless you want to get an extension cable involved. If you do need external power, make sure your power supply is outdoor safe. For a manual treadmill (like a curved treadmill), you’ve got more options when it comes to placement.
What’s the surface like?
A few basic pointers…
1. It needs to be level ground! Concrete, decking, asphalt etc are fine.
2. It needs to be clean and dry. Avoid grass, soil, mud, wood chipping etc.Too much risk of dirt and water damage otherwise. A treadmill is a heavy machine, so it’ll destroy a garden if it’s in the wrong spot.
3. Keep it away from areas that are liable to flood. If there’s a spot in your garden where water collects, it’s not worth the risk.
Where on my property should I put my treadmill?
1. Keep it away from areas where it’s in danger of damage – a stray baseball or basketball, a splash from a swimming pool etc!
2. If you’ve got kids, don’t put it in an area where they can’t/won’t run into it!
3. To protect the bottom of the treadmill, a treadmill mat is useful. Again, make sure it’s on a level surface. A mat can’t make up for poor ground.
4. Excessive moisture is an issue for fitness machines, so if you’ve got an overhead shelter, that might be a good spot.
When NOT to put your treadmill outside
There are times and places when it’s just not appropriate for a treadmill to live outside…
Very wet areas
If you live in an area with high rainfall, it’s not worth the risk. Even if you’ve got the treadmill covered, there’s a chance that with a change in direction of the wind, the rain may find its way towards your treadmill.
Very cold areas
Treadmills aren’t built to withstand extremes in temperature. If you live in a place where the winter temperatures drop low, you’re asking for trouble keeping a treadmill outside. If you see winter temperatures drop below 40 degrees F, you’re taking a chance.
Risk of animal damage
If your place is in the middle of nowhere and wildlife is a frequent visitor, question whether it’s worth it! Will a bear want to play?! Also consider that small mammals may want to make the sheltered underbelly of your treadmill their winter home. That’ll ruin a treadmill in no time!
Adverse conditions protection
Bear in mind you shouldn’t keep it outside all the time if the weather doesn’t allow. There’s nothing wrong with leaving the treadmill outside in the spring and summer, but bringing it inside over the fall and winter.
You’ll protect it from the harsh conditions and increasing damage over time. You’ll also add a good few years of life to the machine as well. Even in the summer though, I’d suggest you keep it protected with a custom cover.
Putting your treadmill outside – is it a good idea?
If you’ve got the right garden and the weather is suitable, keeping your treadmill outside is a great idea! Working out in the fresh air is amazing, so if you can, I’d encourage you to do so. Training outdoors is liberating and being in nature, even if it’s in your garden on a treadmill is awesome. From elite runners to leisurely walkers, being outdoors is wonderful.
You’ll have to be willing to put in the level of effort when it comes to maintenance, but the payoff is worth it.
If your garden isn’t suitable, your garage will be an ideal substitute. You’ll have none of the weather considerations, but you’ll be able to open the doors to invite the outside in when the weather is nice, so to speak. It’s the best of both worlds, and a lot less maintenance!
So pay attention to the advice in the article. If you can store your treadmill outside safely, go for it – you won’t regret it. Don’t be stupid though – damaging your treadmill because of your own negligence is an expensive mistake to make!