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A Little More on the Treadmill vs. Running Outside Debate

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


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.


Join The Conversation
chrissybaby3 chrissybaby3 8 years
ah it gets so hot where i live and i always end up walking instead of running when i'm outside. plus, my neighborhood has lots of uneven pavement, like roots in the sidewalk and i sprained my ankle twice on them. on the treadmill, i'm not tripping on anything, its a nice temp, and i keep my running up. so i'm all for treadmills.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 9 years
I get heat exhaustion too easily when I do too much outdoors here in Florida. I'm not a fan of puking while working out. I'm also not a fan of sunburns or leering, honking drivers. I'll take the air conditioned, shaded, private indoors any day!
moonlite moonlite 9 years
I hate the treadmill, I'd rather just run outside. The weather isn't really a problem for me. On hot days (and we have plenty of those here in Texas), I go when it's a little darker and wear shorts and a sleeveless top. On cooler days I jog in a light sweater. Even when it rains, as long as it's not raining too hard, I don't mind--it's kind of fun to get wet and it makes me feel like a kid again when I splash through all the puddles. I definitely feel a huge elevation in my mood when I run outside; I just don't get that when I run on the treadmill.
ragus ragus 9 years
Not too safe in the city here, plus no matter the amount of hydrating i do i easily get heat exhaustion, summers too hot here in TX so i'm tredmill bound, as long as it gets done though right!
gelai gelai 9 years
I also hate the sun! Plus the pollution. So I'd rather use treadmill. ;-)
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
I like to sweat...a lot, and I hate the sun and I don't like to be looked at when I run, so I pick treadmill.
runfaster runfaster 9 years
I don't really like the treadmill, but sometimes it's unavoidable--like during a business trip to Vegas last summer, when it was just too hot for me outside. Sometimes not being able to run outside just makes me remember that I can do other things, too--like run stairs or swim or play tennis or volleyball or whatever. I get so focused on running-running-running even though I know it's good to mix things up a bit.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
I do both. I like the treadmill for interval workouts because I know exactly how fast & how far I run. I'm also surprised at the finding that people run faster on a track than a treadmill. It's hard for me to not slow down when I get tired while running outside, but on the treadmill, I can't slow down unless I actually push the buttons. So I'm forced to run at my desired speed.
labador labador 9 years
I mostly run on the treadmill in the summer and winter, and try to run once or twice a week outside when the weather is nice (like now!). I find varying what I do keeps me most energized.
littleladylove littleladylove 9 years
I heard running on the treadmill causes much higher impact on your feet! Ouch!
grossart grossart 9 years
Outside, in the rain beats inside any day. Though, for those of us who have snowy winters, inside is so much better. Generally, I prefer outdoors.
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
I do a bit of both. During the week, when I'm working on interval runs, I run on the treadmill before I do my strength training. But my long runs on the weekend, I run outside with my group. Having someone run along with me is a great motivator for outside, whereas seeing how many calories/far a distance I can go in a certain timeframe is great for inside.
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
I LOVE running outside! But due to some injuries I've gotten, I'm not able to really run on the road and that's all there is around me. So I'm stuck with the treadmill for now. It does give me the benefit of running when it's dark outside. It's so not safe to be on the road when it's dark where I live. Not because of people, but cars. Guys like girls who run cross country. Catch one if you can!
Half-Fast Half-Fast 9 years
I hate running on the treadmill. I'll run in snow, wind or rain before I'll run on the treadmill. I hate it, did I say that already?
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
I like both, but I like running downhill the best. I REALLY feel it in my bum and I feel like I am going really fast. I use the treadmill more, but it does bore me.
Nickey Nickey 9 years
I definitely enjoy running outside and hate the treadmill. I only do that when I have no other choice like there's snow on the ground or something.
smart-blonde smart-blonde 9 years
I'm too broke to join a gym so outside it is! I'll go in just about any weather (but I live in the Mid-Atlantic where winters aren't as bad as they were in my native Midwest). I find I go much further when I can watch the scenery go by and get some fresh air. I can see the appeal of a treadmill when there's ice outside, or if the heat index is over 90, but otherwise I prefer the semi-great outdoors.
kia kia 9 years
If I do a machine the treadmill still isn't my weapon of choice.
missyd missyd 9 years
I love running outside but it's just so HOT!! I sweat way too much. At least indoors on treadmill the a/c makes it a little more comfortable
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Same here Sugar.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I run my intervals on the treadmill, and my long distances outside. But I do find that my legs ache more after I run outside because of the uneven pavement.
Janegreenrrr Janegreenrrr 9 years
Outside is the way to go for me. I feel more alive when i'm running outside. When on the treadmill i can't wait for the work out to be over!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I love running on my treadmill hahaha. Outside is tough for me because of my athsma and all the pollutants and moulds and pollens realyl get to me and I take my inhaler a lot more then I do inside.
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