Is a Treadmill Really Better Than Running Outside?

The debate on whether a treadmill is better vs running outside has been going on for decades, but perhaps not when they were first utilized in prisons as a punishment device

The truth is — treadmills and roadside running have their own pros and cons.

Due to the numerous benefits they provide, treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of cardiovascular equipment, both at home and in gyms. 

Even if you dress for it, running in bad weather is unpleasant. There is a risk of dehydration or heat exhaustion in hot weather, whilst running on snow and ice is also dangerous. 

You can avoid these discomforts and risks by exercising on a treadmill indoors. 

When you run at home or at the gym, you’re in a climate-controlled environment where you’re protected from the elements. You also won’t have to worry about sunscreen, over-or under-dressing, or being stranded far from home if you lose your way in new locations. 

Treadmills at home allow you to run according to your schedule, even in inclement weather, late at night, or while keeping an eye on your children. It’s perfectly safe to listen to music or podcasts while running on a treadmill. You can watch television or read a magazine or book. 

Treadmills absorb shock better than pavement or roads, reducing stress on ankles and knees. And, just like running hills outside, running at an incline on the treadmill builds strength and endurance. However, you are not required to run downhill, which can be taxing on your body.

Even if you don’t have access to a hilly training route, you can run hills on the treadmill if you’re training for a hilly marathon. Examine the route and time your treadmill hills to coincide with the appropriate points. Treadmill runs can also be used to try on race day clothing, ensuring that your gear fits properly. 

It can be difficult to keep a consistent pace outside. As a result, if you’re recovering from an injury, treadmill training may be a good option. It’s simple to keep track of your mileage and pace on the treadmill. You can also pause at any time. However, you can use the treadmill’s speed to increase your motivation. After all, you can slow down outside, but you don’t want to fall off the treadmill or drop to a lower setting; helping to improve fitness. 

The various functions a treadmill can offer, such as precise control of its pace, incline, and intervals, are appealing to most treadmill runners. 

This is also beneficial for people who are recovering from injuries because they can progress slowly on a treadmill in a more controlled environment. Because of factors such as uneven ground and slick sidewalks, running outside, for example, may pose a higher risk to someone returning from an ankle injury. 

Lastly, because most treadmills have cushioned belts that absorb some of the impacts, running on one may be better for your joints. Hard ground, such as sidewalks and roads, on the other hand, will not.

These were the pros of using a treadmill, now let’s move on to the road running.

Because of the changing scenery, fresh air, challenge of uneven ground, and endless options for running routes, most runners prefer outdoor running to treadmill running. A person’s motivation to exercise may be boosted as a result of the increased variety. 

While both treadmill and outdoor running provide health benefits such as lower blood pressure, increased endurance, and a reduced risk of depression, outdoor running may provide additional benefits simply by allowing you to feel more connected to nature.

Running outside is free, and you’re not bound by a gym’s schedule or machine availability. Running outside does not necessitate the purchase of a gym membership or a treadmill. Exercising outside has even been shown to be more enjoyable in some studies. Running also allows you to explore a new location more quickly and easily. Because you cover more ground, you get to see more sights. 

Running outside can be motivating, whether you’re planning a route to the end of the block or further. Completing a distance goal outside is also enjoyable. If you’re doing an out-and-back route, you still have to finish it to get home, even if you’re not motivated.

Surprisingly, a 2016 study discovered that spending at least 30 minutes per week in the outdoor greenery, such as parks and forests, can lower depression rates by 7% and high blood pressure by 9%. 

Outdoor running can also help you activate other muscle groups and improve your balance by exposing you to a variety of environments and obstacles. Dodging other people on the trail, jumping over puddles, and running up hills are all possible actions. 

Furthermore, because you’re running on harder surfaces outside, research shows that running outdoors can help you build stronger bones. This increases the gravitational force and stress on the bones, which is beneficial to bone metabolism.

Lastly, excluding the cost of running shoes and workout equipment, outdoor running is completely free. This allows people of all income levels to participate in running.

There’s actually no right conclusion to this debate, both the things i.e treadmill and running outside have their own pros and cons. Both are good in their own way. In fact, scientific research has shown that running on the treadmill is roughly the same as running outside if you make a few simple adjustments.

“A balance of road and treadmill running can be beneficial for runners that want to use both for training,” concludes an expert. “Running on the road is obviously best to replicate real running conditions; being that races are on roads and trails, replicating those surfaces while training is best. Foot strike, stride length and the ability to self pace is enhanced when running outside. However, I do suggest supplementing treadmill runs for recovery runs, some specific speed work to work on turnover or pacing and for runners coming off injuries.” Hence, both are good in their own way.

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