We all have personal preferences: dark chocolate over milk, red wine over white, running outside over running on a treadmill. Wait! I like both hitting the pavement in my sneakers and chalking up miles on a treadmill. And it looks like variety is a good thing when it comes to where you choose to run. You shouldn't really place yourself too strongly in either camp.
Running outside definitely has its benefits, like boosting your mood and making you feel more invigorated than running indoors. You also burn about five percent more calories when running outside. Which makes sense since you have to contend with the elements (like wind – oh how I hate running into a headwind!), and you don't have the assistance of the treadmill belt pulling your legs back for you. Studies have also shown that when running on treadmills, we tend to go a bit slower than we would on a track.
To see the benefits of running on a treadmill just read more.
On the other hand, or should I say foot since we are talking about running, treadmills reduce the incidence of overuse injuries by up to 50 percent. Running stresses the legs, particularly the lower leg. Think shin splints and you will know what I mean. By preventing and decreasing overuse injuries, the treadmill can help keep you running for longer and possibly farther (even though you are not really moving forward).
Once again the take home message is to mix it up. Treadmills, with their steady pace, work like a metronome on tempo runs. You set your pace a little past your comfort zone and the constant motion of the belt keeps you moving. Running outside is invigorating and a great way to see the world.
So where do you fall in this debate? And have I convinced you to try running on the other side? Tell me in the comments section below.