Can You Install a Treadmill Outside?

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Training outside in the sun is one of my favorite ways to train. I even installed a giant screen door on my garage (link) that allows me to train with the door open whenever the temps allow!

Here in Illinois, that’s about as close as I can come to setting up my gym outdoors. If I lived somewhere it never rained, I’d for sure at least move the weights outside.

But what about my treadmill? Could that be installed outdoors? It would certainly be more enjoyable to use if it wasn’t in my dirty garage!

Should You Set Up A Treadmill Outside?

Setting up a treadmill outdoors is not recommended. Even the smallest amount of humidity or rain can cause corrosion in the fine wiring inside. Direct sunlight can cause your belt to stretch and wear, as well as crack and dry the plastic parts of your machine. Damage like this voids your warranty.

That said, I know from personal experience that plenty of treadmills are installed outdoors in areas where it rarely, if ever, rains. It’s more common than I initially thought.

But even in areas that have ideal weather year-round, it still might not be the best idea to install a treadmill or any other electricity-driven cardio machine outside.

Let’s take a look at the possible sources of damage so that you can make an educated decision on whether or not you want to install your treadmill outdoors.

And, oh, by the way, if you haven’t bought your treadmill yet, make sure to check out our complete buyer’s guide here!

Direct Sunlight

If you live in a sunny climate, you know exactly how quickly direct sun can damage things!

It cracks the upholstery of your car seats and dash. It dry rots your siding. It bleaches the color of your shingles. It fades pictures on the wall and destroys vinyl windows with ease.

A treadmill outside near the ocean

The sun always wins. Always! And your treadmill has no chance!

Direct sunlight will discolor, dry, and crack every bit of plastic on your treadmill over time. It will also dry and crack the tread belt itself on a slightly longer time scale. Not to mention damage to your display, which won’t last in hot, direct sun.

If you decide to install your treadmill outdoors, ensure it is in the shade. This could be under the shade of trees or a man-made structure. At the very least, use a treadmill cover like this one you can buy on Amazon every time you are done using your machine.

Moisture and Rainfall

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that anyone living in a high-rainfall area isn’t reading this article. Folks in that type of climate already know they shouldn’t install a treadmill outside. 

Even if the treadmill is covered, there is always a chance that rain could find its way into the machine, leading to damage or malfunction.

Furthermore, high humidity levels in wet areas can lead to corrosion of metal components, such as the frame and bolts, causing them to rust and weaken over time. This can lead to safety hazards and reduce the lifespan of the treadmill. 

An even more severe issue is that moisture can seep into the electrical components of the machine, causing damage and potentially creating a fire hazard.

I bring the subject of moisture up because of areas like Florida where many people have gyms installed outside by their pool. If you’ve ever been to Florida, you know that many pools are enclosed. This not only keeps out the bugs but also the rain that comes every afternoon.

It might seem okay to set up a treadmill in this environment. After all, it’s out of direct sunlight and can’t get rained on. In this case, it’s the high humidity and salty sea air in Florida that present a danger.

Humidity can be more insidious than rain as it gets into every nook and cranny. Even under roofs, covers, or other shelters! And humidity causes water damage just like rain does!

Overall, it is not recommended to place a treadmill in an area with high levels of moisture or rainfall, even if it’s in a covered location.

Heat and Cold

Treadmills are not designed to withstand extreme temperatures. 

If the winter temperatures in your location regularly drop below 40℉, it may be risky to keep the treadmill outside.

Keeping a treadmill in icy areas can lead to several issues, such as damage to the motor and electronic components due to extreme temperature fluctuations. The lubricant in the belt and deck can also thicken and harden, leading to increased wear and tear. 

In addition, the display screen and buttons can become unresponsive in the cold, making it difficult to use the machine effectively. If you live in an area with harsh winters, bringing your treadmill inside or storing it in a climate-controlled area is recommended to prevent damage and ensure longevity.

Thermometer showing a cold garage gym

The same goes for areas where the top-end temperature regularly hits 90℉ and higher.

Operating a treadmill in temps this high can cause control board failure, display issues, and overheated motors.

In other words, unless you live in a temperate climate, it’s best not to consider an outdoor installation of your treadmill.

Risk of Animal Damage 

If you live in a rural area where wildlife is common, it may also be worth considering the potential risk of animal damage to your treadmill. Large animals like bears may be curious and want to play, while smaller animals could take up residence in the hidden underbelly of the machine.

Mice and other small rodents are known to not only make nests in things like treadmills, but they love to chew on the wiring inside. Anyone who has had mouse damage in their car can relate!

Animal damage like this is another reason to avoid placing your treadmill outside. Wildlife can cause significant damage to your equipment. Animals such as bears, raccoons, and squirrels may scratch, chew, or break parts of the treadmill, rendering it unusable. 

The scent of sweat and oils on the treadmill can also attract animals, making it a potential target for their curiosity and destruction. 

Therefore, it is essential to take the necessary precautions to protect your treadmill from animal damage, including keeping it indoors or in a secure and enclosed area.

Voiding Your Treadmill’s Warranty

I’ll save you the time of looking up your treadmill’s warranty.

Here are things it does not cover regardless of the unit you bought or its price.

  • Water damage
  • Damage from dirt or debris
  • Animal damage
  • Sun damage
  • Dry rot
  • Motor failure due to overheating

In other words, if your treadmill breaks due to being outside, you are on the hook for all repairs or replacement.

The Verdict

Lots of people have their treadmills set up outside.

Like most things in life, it’s not a matter of “can.” It’s a matter of “should.” Can you set up a treadmill outside? Yep! Should you? Nope!

But if you do decide to go the outdoor route, make sure you take proper precautions. Also, make sure to understand that you are artificially shortening the life of your treadmill.


I live in San Diego where it never rains and is always 75 degrees. Can I put my treadmill outside?

Can you? Yes. But I don’t recommend it. Even in San Diego, placing your treadmill outside will shorten its life. Sure, you have great weather, but you also have salty sea air. And that will corrode your machine over time.

If it were me, I wouldn’t. But you aren’t me. And neither are your neighbors! This is one of the “educated decision” moments. I’ve listed the drawbacks above and how to mitigate some of them.

As long as you go into it with open eyes, have at it!

Do you recommend a treadmill cover inside and outside?

That depends on the room it’s in. If it’s in your garage or basement, and those areas are relatively clean, then no. But, for example, if you have a wood shop in your garage, too, definitely use a cover.

In other words, use a cover if you are worried about water, dirt, or debris. If not, then don’t!

How about ellipticals and rowers? Are those okay outside?

Everything in the article above pertains to any cardio machine. That includes ellipticals, rowers, stepper, and everything else!

Photo of author


Tim Steward has been training at home since he got his first weight set from Sears in junior high. Over 30 years later, Tim has helped thousands of people build home and garage gyms that they love and use regularly. He also holds CPT and Nutritionist certifications with the ISSA and is an NCCPT nationally accredited trainer. When Tim is not training or writing about home gyms, you can find him at the dog park with his two Australian cattle dogs, Anny and Beans.

6 thoughts on “Can You Install a Treadmill Outside?”

    • You, clearly, have not lived where there are bears! I’m originally from Colorado and can personally attest to bears destroying random things in your yard. They are also known for destroying Amazon and other packages sitting on your doorstep. California is another area where this is a real issue.

  1. We live in Hawaii and have had our treadmill outside for years. Lots of salty air and regular rain with no issues. It is in a covered area, so rain doesn’t fall directly on it, but it’s still outside.

    • Well, I know people who have smoked for 30 years and don’t have cancer too. Count yourself lucky, but don’t use your luck to give advice to others. Sure, there are tons of treadmills outside, especially on the west coast and sw regions of the US. All of them would have lasted longer inside.


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