Running Outside Vs Treadmill Running

This question might be a bit odd since this website is focused on home fitness. However, it is a question I feel is important. Many people, including myself, often wonder if we're missing out by staying indoors on a treadmill. 

The debate on which is better is not a new one. Which is better for weight loss? Which is more satisfying? Is there really that big a difference? These are typical questions you may have asked yourself, whether you're a regular runner or just starting out. 

Running is running, whether you're outside, or indoors. Or is it? Truth be told, you'll probably find there quite a few differences you may not be aware of.

Running outdoors

A deep breath of fine, crisp air on an early morning is all many people need to get their day going. This is one reason why many prefer running outdoors. 

Pros

When running outside, you're able to enjoy the versatile scenery. It gives you a sense of freedom; you can basically run anywhere you desire. 

If you are into racing, running outside will automatically provide you with a better training environment to adjust your techniques. You're likely to burn extra calories and it may be more motivational and satisfying. And you can't simply get off when you hit a runner’s wall as you might do on a treadmill.

Being outside makes it easier to run with friends, or maybe your dog. You can discover new places you might not have seen before. 

Cons

One of the first reasons why people choose not to run outdoors is because of poor weather conditions. If you don't have a treadmill, your regular run will likely be canceled if a blizzard or heatwave hits. 

When running outside, you might be more susceptible to injuries. Unless you're running on grass or a cushioned track, the surface beneath your feet provides little cushioning. This makes it harder on your knees and joints. 

If you run in an area where you might feel your safety could be compromised, a treadmill might be a better option. 

It is not always easy to bring a bottle of water with you while you run, which in turn, could lead to dehydration. 

Running on a treadmill

A treadmill is an excellent machine to have. Over the years they've advanced in technology, and today many are able to mimic an outdoor route, giving you a better workout. 

Pros

When running on a treadmill, you won't experience any unfriendly weather. Even if there's a blizzard outside, you can continue running in your shorts and tank top. 

You'll have more control of your workout and can stop at any time. Most treadmills come with different training programs, to keep your workouts versatile. Some will even let you connect to platforms, such as iFit, which allows you to choose from tons of workouts, and the treadmill will adjust accordingly.

A treadmill is a lot softer on your knees and joints because of the cushioning. 

You may also feel better on a treadmill with regard to personal safety. You won’t have to rely on a running partner, and can run any time, day or night. 

If you live a busy lifestyle, a treadmill can save you time. You can to catch up on your favorite shows while you run, as it can easily be placed in front of the tv. Some treadmills even let you attach a screen.

If you’re looking for a treadmill, here is an overview of the best treadmills for home use (in my opinion).

Cons

Treadmills are fantastic, but they also have some negatives. 

A treadmill might become boring in the long run. When using a treadmill, you'll likely be facing the same wall or window. Or you’ll be looking at the same digital lights blinking away on the panel, counting down the minutes until your run is over. 

If you are into racing, a treadmill might not be your best choice for your daily training session. Yes, you can adjust speed and incline. However, according to Runner's Connect, a treadmill is very limited when it comes to the mental side of running. 

While racing, it's essential to know how and when to pace yourself to preserve your energy. But because a treadmill does most of the thinking for you, it eliminates that important lesson. 

When running outdoors, you'll burn more calories. Outside you have to make your way through wind resistance which is pushing your body backward. 

But before you give up on the treadmill, take note of this: studies have shown that if you adjust your treadmill to a 1% incline, it will mimic the same resistance you'd be running against outside.

So, which is better?

I'd say if you're into racing, you’re probably better off running outside. Use a treadmill when you want to focus on a specific workout or when weather conditions are against you. 

But as often as you can, stay outside. This will help your body adjust to the harder surfaces. Wear shoes with a good cushion design to take most of the impact. 

If your aim is simply to get, and stay, in shape or your outside environment won't allow you to run, a treadmill would be the better option. 

Studies show that a 30-minute run each day will improve your health immensely. A treadmill might make it easier for you to get that daily run checked off your schedule.

But what is your preference? Do you find treadmills boring? Or do you feel a treadmill is more beneficial? Please leave us a comment below.

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