Running on the treadmill or running outside: which is the best workout?


Functioning is one of the most common exercises you can do. Not only is it an excellent cardio workout, but it’s a simple and effective way to work on your overall health and fitness. But most people hate running because it’s monotonous, especially on a conveyor belt. Luckily, there’s an easy way to make running more fun: do it outside!

Not only is functioning exterior more exciting than run on a treadmill, but you can also become a better runner by choosing the outdoors. Despite its multiple benefits, running on a treadmill also has its benefits, especially when it comes to safety and planning.

Ultimately, the best choice comes down to personal preference and what’s available and accessible, but here are the pros and cons of running outdoors versus a treadmill.

Read more: Best workouts to do outside this summer

Why running outside is better than running on a treadmill

Person running on a rocky hill at sunset

The scenery will inspire you to run further and the natural terrain will challenge you more than a treadmill.

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You won’t be so bored

Your body does the exact same thing on a treadmill as it does on a sidewalk, but it feels astronomically harder on a treadmill. The treadmill is just a mental game for most people. Personally, I can’t spend more than 20 minutes on a treadmill without feeling like I’m mentally imploding. Podcasts and one bang playlist sometimes helps, but running outside is definitely more fun.

You are more likely to run longer and further

Because you won’t get as bored running outdoors as you would on a treadmill, you might naturally run more. It’s easier to persist when your only focus isn’t the pain in your legs and lungs.

When you’re outdoors, you’ll have distractions to distract you from physical exertion, such as the weather, your sight, sounds, other pedestrians, and vehicles. If running outside encourages you to run furtherit’s an easy way to improve your stamina.

You get fresh air and sunshine

Spending time outdoors can make you happier, and studies show that time spent outdoors is vital for our health. To start, you will receive your daily dose of Vitamin D outdoors (which many people quite miss). Other than that, getting some fresh air is known to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

You have more room for improvement

Running outdoors rather than on a treadmill provides a more natural opportunity for improvement, not just in speed, but also in strength, coordination, technique, and endurance. For example, if you live near hills or mountains, running courses with inclines, declines, and switchbacks will challenge your legs more (yes, most treadmills have incline features, but they are limited compared to what you will experience outdoors).

Trail running provides opportunities to improve your coordination and awareness skills as you need to stay aware of and dodge tree roots, loose rocks and other obstacles that come with difficult terrain (be sure to purchase trail running shoes for extra traction).

Read more: It’s never too late to run your first 5K. here’s how

It’s more fun to track and see progress

When you run outside and wear a activity tracker like a apple watchFitbit, Garmin, or Polar watch, you can see all kinds of fun stats about your run.

Depending on your level of runner, you can track simple stats such as distance, time, pace and calories burned, or more detailed stats such as cadence, rebound, rise, temperature changes. altitude, heart rate variability (HRV) and headwind.

As your run log grows, you’ll be able to view your progress and enjoy the retrospective of all the routes you’ve run.

Read more: Nike Run Club, Strava, Daily Burn: the 7 best running apps

When should you run on the treadmill…

Young woman running on a treadmill

The treadmill has its place.

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Sometimes a treadmill is the only option, in the case of:

  • Severe weather
  • Working too late or too early to run in broad daylight
  • No proven safe route to run
  • Need to track your pace but no activity tracking
  • You can’t leave your kids at home (and you have a treadmill at home)
  • Using a treadmill helps absorb shock when you have joint problems

While running outdoors has many benefits, running on a treadmill has its benefits as well. On a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about cars, bikes, or pedestrians, and you probably won’t feel the need to carry Mace or a taser around with you. You can also increase the volume of your listeners without worrying too much about your environment.

If you have to work out at home because you have young children, investing in a treadmill is a smart move if you like to run but can’t move regularly on the sidewalk. Also, running on a treadmill is generally not as hard on your joints because the belt absorbs much of the shock which, on a tarmac, is sent directly to your ankles and knees.

Yet, for many people, running on a treadmill is just plain dreadful. Try these tips to make your treadmill more fun and use those treadmill workouts to go faster and improve your endurance.

More for your fitness:

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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