Discover Running on a Treadmill vs. Running Outside: Pros and Cons

The treadmill is a commonly used exercise machine at the gym or in a fitness aficionado’s home.

It is a piece of reliable exercise equipment commonly used for cardiovascular workouts or training for a marathon.

The treadmill facilitates a runner to become faster and stronger.

As a runner, you certainly have your preferences when it comes to carrying out your workouts. You may be a person who prefers running outdoors.

You may find the treadmill dull to use. Otherwise, you may be a fan of the well-loved fitness equipment.

You think that it is convenient and you appreciate it for offering you the accuracy of an organized indoor exercise machine.

Plus, you appreciate the digital controls of the treadmill which provide you with the fitness statistics that you need to keep track of your weight-loss and wellness targets.

Woman running on treadmill

When looking at the aspects of running on a treadmill vs. running outside: pros and cons, there is no right or wrong answer people ask runners about their preferences.

These matters are subjective, and they all depend on which workout technique feels comfortable for them.

There are fitness enthusiasts who can perform their physical exercises better on the fitness machine than outdoors, while for others, it can be the other way around.

You may ask how running on a treadmill is different from running outdoors. You may also wonder if one is more effortless to do than the other. Let us find out more in this discussion.

Running on a Treadmill vs. Running Outside: Pros and Cons

Is Running on a Treadmill Different from Running Outdoors?

As a runner, you may wonder if it would be best for you to run on a treadmill or to do this exercise outside your home or of the gym.

Scientific research has proven that setting the treadmill to a one-percent grade enables the runner to simulate outdoor running.

Therefore, if you are curious if running on a treadmill is in any way different from running outdoors, have a look at these discoveries:

  1. Research has found out that the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) level, or the maximum rate of oxygen your body can use during intense physical activity, is similar when running on a treadmill and outdoors.
  2. Studies also revealed that the biomechanical patterns such as the runners’ bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, remained the same when they ran on the treadmill as compared to when they ran outdoors.

Therefore, when you think about running on a treadmill vs. running outside: pros and cons, running on the treadmill actually has similar outcomes as running outdoors.

Again, this is possible through setting the treadmill on a one-percent grade.

What are the Advantages of Running on a Treadmill?

Running on a treadmill has its benefits when compared to running outdoors. Let us look at these upsides:

  1. Running on a treadmill protects you against unfavorable weather.

Since the exercise machine is securely lodged inside the comforts of your basement or somewhere in your home, you can use it conveniently.

You do not have to worry about the rainy or stormy weather which can hold you back from carrying out your day’s run.

If you merely need to keep up with your well-rounded fitness routine and do your exercises for the day, running on a treadmill is ideal since it allows you not to go outside anymore.

What Are The Best Shoes For Obese Walkers?

  1. The treadmill safeguards you against outdoor hazards.

Running outdoors exposes you to the dangers of damp and icy avenues, running in the dark by yourself, and the sharp turns on the roads with blind spots for the vehicles.

These concerning situations make enjoying your workout with your treadmill at home safely a better and more practical option.

  1. The treadmill facilitates the simulation of the actual marathon.

If you are race-training, the treadmill is the highly recommended fitness equipment when carrying out the structured speed workouts in your training program.

With the use of the treadmill, you can pretendas if you are already on the specific race course that you are training to join.

Treadmills can be programmed, and its incline, speed, interval, and recovery can be manually adjusted.

As your body gets accustomed to running at particular speeds, this development makes it easier for you to transition to outdoor running which includes the highly challenging hills.

  1. Your body does not have to contend with wind resistance.

It is easier to run on the treadmill because, as the belt moves under your feet, your body can freely charge ahead without having to push against any wind resistance.

You can jump on the exercise machine at any speed on which the belt is moving, and it would still record your actions as running.

On the other hand, when running outdoors, your legs have to contend with the wind resistance as they propel your body forward.

Man running on a treadmill

  1. You can bring food with you during your treadmill workout sessions.

When using the treadmill at the gym or in your home gym or during your marathon training moments, you can bring your essentials like food, water bottle, and a workout towel.

However, you cannot enjoy these conveniences when you are running outside.

  1. Running on a treadmill is the safe option for returning runners.

Did you recently get injured? Are you prepared to run again? The treadmill is ideal for runners who are returning after recuperating from their injuries.

Using the exercise machine helps them recover and slowly transition before running on theasphalt or concrete road again.

As you can see, running on the treadmill can bring you the effective workouts and convenience that you will surely enjoy.


What are the Drawbacks of Running on a Treadmill?

As a runner, you may find yourself interested in learning about the disadvantages of using the treadmill.

Using the fitness equipment, indeed, features challenges which you may need to look into such as the following:

  1. The treadmill confines you to particular running speed.

Race days require you to apply specific skills that you are required to develop such as your pacing instincts or sense of speed.

Since users can program the treadmill to a specific pace which you can get accustomedto, this feature can be a problem especially on the exact date of your marathon.

The running machine may prevent you from learning how to adjust to different speeds which are among its disadvantages.

  1. Running on the treadmill can be monotonous.

Since using the treadmill does not involve varying sceneries, it is highly likely that you would feel bored.

You cannot visualize the finish line, too, making running on the exercise machine mind-numbing as compared to when running outside.

Your concentration can, therefore, become tested, so you need to keep pushing yourself to work harder.

  1. There is a tendency for you to suffer from injury.

When you run on the treadmill, the exercise machine subjects you to a completely controlled environment.

This situation means that it is highly likely for you to engage in the same, predictable physical exercise programs.

Did you know that this condition tends to damage your muscles? Through running on the treadmill, repetitive physical exercises overwork the muscles and the bones.

Therefore, they become deconditioned and frail, leading you to suffer from injuries. As you can see, running on the treadmill has its downsides.

Best Treadmills Under 2000

As you get more answers to your curiosity about running on a treadmill vs. running outside: pros and cons, let us now take a look at treadmill running’s opposite: Running outdoors.

What Are the Upsides of Running Outdoors?

Another option that runners possess is to enjoy their passion by running outdoors. Here are the perks of this mode of physical exercise:

  1. You get to strengthen the bones and muscles on your legs.

Rondel King is an exercise physiologist and a certified conditioning and strength expert at the New York University’s Langone Health Sports Performance Center.

He explained that the runners’ leg muscles become more active when running outdoors because their feet have to grab and stay in deep contact with the ground to propel them forward.

King also affirmed that running outdoors offer strength-training for the legs and the bones.

Since runners move without having to follow a completely linear path, their legs become stronger and more prepared for actual marathons.

  1. You get to develop your natural running form.

King explained that running outside facilitates a person to move naturally. This physical exercise does not limit their movement unlike when they run with the treadmill.

Hence, without this exercise machine, runners do not have to deal with getting confined to its parameters, and they can freely go on their own pace.

  1. You can prepare for the actual marathon.

Running outside can be tremendously advantageous because it exposes you to varying weather conditions such as rainy or sunny weather.

These situations enable you to test your running skills and build your mental stamina.

Running outdoors also allows your body to train in an environment where the actual race will happen. Hence, your body gets to adapt and prepare well for Marathon Day.

Running on uneven terrain

  1. Running outdoors promotes your mental well-being.

According to Selena Samuela, a Peloton Tread instructor, runners who choose to carry out their physical activity outdoors experience mentally healthy boosts.

Moreover, they get more energized which helps them ward off unnecessary anger, tension, and depression.

The fresh air, the sunshine graciously emitting vitamin D for the skin, and just the gloriously gorgeous day outside certainly make the runners feel their best and stay optimistic.

These feelings are just right for their mental health.

Running in Sydney

Meanwhile, running outdoors may be unfavorable for returning runners who are just recovering from their injuries.

Also, extreme weather conditions like snow and storm make running outside not a viable option.

When thinking about running on a treadmill vs. running outside: pros and cons, you have the option to choose which mode of running is best for you.

The treadmill is preferable if you are merely interested in the cardiovascular advantages it brings.

On the other hand, if you are training for a marathon which would require you to adapt to the environs of the race venue, running outdoors is undoubtedly more preferable and beneficial.

The choice is yours regarding which option is right for you and your fitness routine.

Happy running

About Gaurav Dhir

Gaurav Dhir, B. Tech, PGDCM is an engineer and MBA by training. A fitness aficionado, Gaurav follows a strict diet and exercise regimen to keep himself vigorously active. He loves playing sports and being outdoors. Gaurav is responsible for the health and wellness of 4 generations including his son, elderly parents and very elderly grandparents.