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Treadmill vs. Running Outside: The Pros and Cons of Each



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Strap in and hit the pavement for a better run.

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Run is a simple and effective way to work on your health and fitness. But most people hate running because it is monotonous, especially on one treadmill. Fortunately, there is an easy way to make running more fun: do it outside!

That is not only run more fun than outdoors run on a treadmillbut you can also become a better runner by opting for the great old ones outdoors. Ultimately, of course, the best choice comes down to personal preference and the options available, but here are some key benefits of running outdoors versus on a treadmill.

Read more: The best workouts for runners (besides running)

Why running outside is better than running on a treadmill

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

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You will not 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 get through more than 20 minutes on a treadmill without feeling like I’m going to mentally implode. Podcasts and a smashing playlist sometimes helps, but running outside is undoubtedly more fun.

You are more likely to run longer and further

Because you are not as bored while running outside as on a treadmill, you naturally run more. It’s easier to stick with it if your only focus isn’t the pain in your legs and lungs.

When you are outside, you have a distraction to take your mind off the physical exertion, such as the weather, your view, sounds, fellow pedestrians and vehicles. If running outside encourages you run on, that’s an easy way to improve your stamina.

You get fresh air and sunshine

Spending time outdoors can make you feel happier, and studies show that time outdoors is essential to our health. To begin with, you will receive your daily dose vitamin D while outside (something that many people are fed up with). Apart from that, getting fresh air is known to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

You are more likely to improve

Running outdoors versus on a treadmill offers more natural opportunities for improvement, not only in speed, but also in strength, coordination, technique and endurance. For example, if you live near hills or mountains, running routes with slopes, drops, and hairpins will challenge your legs more (yes, most treadmills have incline features, but they are limited compared to what you’ll experience in the great outdoors).

Trail running offers opportunities to improve your coordination and awareness skills as you need to stay aware of and avoid tree roots, loose rocks, and other obstacles that occur on difficult terrain (make sure to buy trail running shoes for extra traction).

Read more: How to Train for Your First Marathon

It’s more fun to track and see progress

If you run outside and a activity tracker such as a Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin or Polar watch, you can see all kinds of nice stats about your run.

Depending on how hard you are as a runner, you can track simple stats such as distance, time, pace and calories burned, or more in-depth stats such as cadence, jump, altitude, elevation change, heart rate variability (HRV) and headwind.

As your run log grows, you can visualize your progress and enjoy looking back on all the routes you’ve walked.

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

When to run on the dreadmill …

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The treadmill has its place.

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Sometimes a treadmill is the only option, for example if:

  • Bad weather occurs
  • You work too late or too early to run in the daylight.
  • You don’t have a safe route to run.
  • You have to keep up with your pace, but you don’t have an activity tracker.
  • You have kids at home and don’t want to leave them behind (and you have a treadmill at home).
  • You have joint problems and the treadmill helps absorb shocks.

While running outside has so many benefits, running on a treadmill has its benefits. On a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about cars, bicycles, or pedestrians, and you probably won’t feel the need to bring Mace or a taser. You can also turn up the volume of your headphones without worrying about your surroundings.

If you have to exercise at home because you have young children, investing in a treadmill is a smart move if you enjoy running but can’t get out on the sidewalk regularly. In addition, running on a treadmill is usually not that hard on your joints, as the belt absorbs much of the shock sent directly to your ankles and knees on an asphalt.

Still, for many people, running on a treadmill is just plain awful. Try this one tips to make your treadmill more fun and use these workouts on the treadmill to get faster and improve your stamina.

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


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