Running Outside vs Treadmill


Running Outside vs Treadmill

Throughout the week, I switch between running inside and outside during the week.

However, whenever possible, I prefer to run outside as it is more effective for your body. If you are someone who enjoys running, it’s good to understand the differences between running indoors and outdoors. There are some differences that might make you rethink your comfort zone on that treadmill and get you to step outside for your next run. You also want to make sure you’re using the proper running form in general.

Let’s take a closer look…           

Treadmill Running Benefits

There are some advantages to running inside, but most of these are circumstantial. For instance, if the weather does not permit you to run outside, clearly it will be more logical to run indoors.

It’s also statistically safer as well to run indoors.

For example, if the road is iced over or it’s dark outside, you might be better off inside. It’s also more convenient for you to adjust the workout quality as well, like changing the pace or incline or running to exhaustion without having to worry about getting back home on an empty tank.

Also, running inside provides a more controlled environment and is therefore, preferable for injury prevention and a few other reasons. For instance running on the belt is more forgiving than running on pavement as the belt is moving under you and provides a softer impact than pavement. This also reduces your impact and is much less demanding on the body. Trying to recover from an ankle sprain is no fun, so running inside will reduce this risk. If you’re recovering from an injury, it will also be ideal to run on a treadmill verses trying to make a come back outside.

If you’re a family person and have others to watch over, it will be easier on your time and attention to run inside as well. Being stationary will obviously allow you to keep an eye on others or even watch your favorite movie or Netflix show. If you’re a die-hard runner you don’t need to be held back by time constraints with the option to run indoors.

outdoor exercise

Benefits of Running Outdoors

While running indoors has its advantages, the reality is, running outside can yield much better results for your body. For your hamstrings, it makes a big difference to run outside, this is because the belt is not moving from under you like on the treadmill. When you are outside you stimulate your hamstrings and your quadriceps by propelling yourself forward, versus mostly just your quads on the treadmill.

This is because when you’re running on the treadmill, the belt finishes your stride, versus the need for propulsion when running outside.

The treadmill is consistently flat, whereas running outside your environment is constantly changing, because of this you are burning more calories. The change in the terrain requires more energy exertion and effort from your body. Some studies show that running at the exact same speed outside will burn up to 5% more calories than if you were inside. Another thing to factor in is the resistance you face from wind. Changing conditions and terrain make running outside much more rigorous. And no, the fans on the treadmills do not count as wind resistance!

There are some drawbacks to running outside for instance you will need to pay attention to your surroundings more to avoid injury. It’s especially important to protect your ankles because if you are running on trails or uneven terrain, you have an increased risk of injuring them. To safeguard your ankles in the gym, perform one-legged workouts or use a Bosu ball. This will help you build up more stability in your muscles/ligaments and straighten them when you hit the uneven terrain.

Help Your Vitamin D Levels

It’s also important to understand another advantage to running outdoors that is often overlooked by most blogs, shows, and magazines. Everyone needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Your body will naturally synthesizes vitamin D from the sun and a great way to obtain that is running outside. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease. They said one of the main caused for vitamin D deficiency is “decreased outdoor activity”.

Coined the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D will also help ward off a host of diseases, osteoporosis, heart disease, colon, prostate, and breast cancers. It can also aid with insomnia, overactive immune system and protecting against depression. The government recommendation is at least 200 IUs a day. So don’t underestimate the benefits of getting a little sunshine on your run—a tan doesn’t hurt either.

treadmill or outside

Make the Change to Outdoor Fitness

If you are someone that has been training primarily indoors, then it’s important that you have a smooth transition to the outdoors. Make sure to run just a couple short runs outside to acclimate your body accordingly. You’ll have to get used to not having the belt beneath you and it’s a good idea to gradually get used to the pavement or trail. Plus, incorporating a couple balancing exercises (previously mentioned) in the gym will be a great help as well.

Some Cool Running Facts

  1.       Of the 8,000 dedicated runners surveyed in the 2007 National Runner Survey,53% were male, and 47% were female; 93% run at least three days per week, 64% at least four days per week, and 35% run five or more days per week; 35% have never completed a marathon, 64% have finished at least one or more, 33% have finished at least four or more, and 17% have finished ten or more marathons; 94% are college educated.
  1. At regular points during the running cycle, both feet are off the ground.
  1. The first recorded Olympic running games took place in 776 BCE.
  1. The Tailteann Games, an Irish sporting festival honoring Goddess Tailtiu, dates back to 1829 BCE; it is one of the earliest records of competitive running.
  1. Human feet can produce a pint of sweat per day.
  1. Running, though generally a faster means of transit, is less efficient than walking in terms of calories expended per unit distance. Due to air resistance at higher speeds, running on a track requires more energy than walking to cover the same distance. As reported by Hall et al., men on a track running at a pace of 6.3 mph use 1.2 times as much energy to travel the same distance as when walking at a pace of 3.15 mph; but, when on a treadmill running 6.3 mph they use just 1.01 times as much energy to travel the same distance as when walking at 3.15 mph.
  1. Exercise physiologists have found that stride rates are extremely consistent among professional runners; they are between 185 and 200 steps per minute.
  1. The fastest human foot speed on record is 44.72 km/h (27.79 mph), seen during a 100-meter sprint by Usain Bolt.
  1. 9.58 seconds: The current male 100-meter run world record set by Usain Bolt of Jamaica on August 16, 2009, at the 2009 World Athletics Championships.
  1. 10.49 seconds: The current female 100-meter run world record set by Florence Griffith-Joyner.


treadmill or outside


Today, I have provided you with several key differences between running outdoors and indoors. The decision is ultimately up to you, for some it might be more efficient to run indoors while others might prefer to step outside. At the end of the day, running in general is much better than sitting on the couch eating frosted flakes. A combination of resistance training, a healthy diet and a good cardio (running) routine is the recipe to have a very healthy lifestyle.

-Terry Asher

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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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