Running On A Treadmill Vs. Outside: What Are The Differences?

Running On A Treadmill Vs. Outside: What Are The Differences?

There's long been a running debate (pun intended) between those who prefer to run in the great outdoors and those who prefer the controlled environment of a treadmill. The interesting thing is, most people are fairly one-sided in the argument. Some hate running outside, and others can't stand the idea of running inside.

Running obviously has several great health benefits such as:

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Increases endurance
  • Mood-lifting effects
  • Relieves stress

Despite the obvious benefits, runners still haven’t stopped arguing about which way to run is the best way to run.

Running on a treadmill vs. running outside is even a debate among people who hate running and haven’t owned a pair of running shoes since high school gym class. When you ask them why they don’t like to run they’ll say something along the lines of, “It’s way too hot/cold to run outside” or, “I couldn’t stand running in the same place on a treadmill.”

Treadmill vs outdoor running.

Although each person is entitled to their own opinion, both forms of running have their own advantages and disadvantages. To help you better understand which side of the running outside vs. treadmill running argument that you stand on, we’re going to break down both sides.

Some of you long-time treadmill runners might just take a step outside for a change, and some of you sunlight sprinters might just decide to stay indoors for once.

Why People Like Running Outside Vs. Treadmill Running

First, let’s take a few minutes to look at why so many people prefer to run outside over a treadmill, and why it’s so popular to see in your local city parks and walkways.

Fresh Air And Sunshine

One of the best parts about running outside is that you get all the fresh air that you could ever need. If you’ve spent all day working in a small office somewhere, it can be immensely freeing to put on your running shoes and step outside and soak in the last few rays of sunshine before you go home and cook your dinner.

They’ve Never Tried Running On A Good Treadmill

Many people’s first experience of running on a treadmill was with the rickety old-school treadmills that they found in their grandparents’ basement. Almost breaking your neck during your workout is the best way to ensure that you never try a treadmill again. Thankfully, treadmills today are far more advanced and safe.

It’s Entertaining

For those who get bored easily, running outside provides a constant source of entertainment. You can take in the scenes around you, watch the people, and even take your dog with you. There’s something that’s really nice about being able to have constantly-changing scenery while you’re doing your workout.

A woman running outside.

Pros Of Running On A Treadmill Vs. Outside

You Don’t Have to Worry About the Weather

One of the biggest buzzkills is when you're really craving a morning run, and you open the window to see pouring rain, snow, or feel the latest 100-degree heat wave. With a treadmill, you can run from the comfort of your own home while you're watching your favorite tv show or listening to your daily podcasts.

You Can Track Your Calories/Mileage

If you’re trying to keep track of specific weight loss, distance, or time goals, then treadmills are great. A well-designed treadmill will be able to tell you exactly how many calories that you’re burning, how far you’ve run, and what your mileage-per-minute is.

You Can Stop When You Want

If you’re running outside and you injure yourself, get really tired, or forget about the date you had, then you’re out of luck. You have to turn around and run all the way home. On a treadmill, however, you can just press the stop button and jump straight in the shower.

It’s Low-Impact

If you’re prone to injuries or you have weak joints, then you’ll find treadmills to be a lot easier on you than running on hard pavement all day. Treadmills usually have the softness of a traditional track, which means that your shoes will last for longer, and so will your joints.

Cons Of Running On A Treadmill

As great as treadmills can be, they do have a couple of disadvantages which are worth mentioning.

Treadmills Can Be Expensive

A high-quality treadmill is definitely an investment. Although many offer financing, it's often more than many people can reasonably justify spending on a piece of workout equipment. However, if you're a serious runner and looking for a way to practice your sport year-round, no matter what the weather is, then they're worth considering.

Treadmills Can Be Monotonous

The biggest complaint about treadmills is that they’re “boring.” While this was certainly the case with older treadmills, modern treadmills are equipped with entertainment systems, interactive workout modules, and other features to keep things interesting.

Treadmills Are Large

Once it’s put together, a treadmill can be very large. If you’re living in a tiny apartment, then a full-size treadmill could easily take up an entire room. Others make the mistake of buying it and just leaving it in the garage where they forget about it and never use it.

There are several small-size or collapsible treadmills on the market, though. If you live in a smaller space, these are definitely worth considering.

Should You Be Running Outside Or Inside?

Hopefully, we've helped to spread some more light on the running on a treadmill vs. running outside. As you've seen, there are a bunch of great advantages to both styles, so one shouldn't limit themselves. It's been said that the best way to stay in shape and keep things interesting is to change things up and add some variety.

Running outside vs on a treadmill.

If you've been running on a treadmill every day for the past year, then try getting some fresh air outside from time to time. If you've been running outside all year, and you don't like being held up by inclimate weather or your sore joints, then you should definitely try running inside on a treadmill periodically.

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