Pros and Cons of Using a Treadmill Versus Outside Running

It’s a beautiful day.  Mid-80s, sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky, and it’s that perfect summer combination of radiating heat and cool breezes. On your walk to the mailbox, this weather has you realizing what a beautiful day it is.

Should you go for a run?  Or just stay in and get a workout on the treadmill instead?  Sure the sun and breeze will be nice, but you don’t want to chance the twisted ankle or weird tan lines. Plus you can catch up on that T.V. show you’re a couple episodes behind on.

While we strive to thrive off nature’s greatest contributions by dipping in a lake, scaling a mountain or jogging the coastline, we’ve become accustomed to living the indoor lifestyle with gym memberships that promote results just like the great outdoors.

When it comes to running, what do you prefer, the treadmill or outdoors? There are certainly pros and cons for each option, and it really depends on each individual.

Some benefits associated with treadmills include the climate control, safer terrain and convenience factor. Treadmill users don’t have to worry about a torrential downpour, icy roads, or extreme temperature fluctuations. It’s also difficult to justify getting out of bed for a morning neighborhood jog when it’s cold, wet and dreary while your living room is at a comfortable 75 degrees.

On a treadmill, runners aren’t concerned about uneven sidewalks, slick roads or cars whizzing by. Daylight isn’t a limiting factor and you can run into the night without facing eerie neighborhoods, flickering street lights or blinding headlights. Additionally, if you don’t have access to an incline or steep hill for added intensity, you can create your own grade level on a treadmill. 

One factor that transitioning gym-to-outdoor runners promptly realize is that running outdoors requires a lot more focus. Music is a great motivator, but it’s difficult to maintain alertness on where you’re running when you’re focusing more on the music. Being fully aware of your surroundings is the best way to prevent accidental injury due to trips, falls or changing terrain.

For runners that don’t need music to keep going, outdoors is likely the best choice. Running outside provides a refreshing twist to the mundane hamster wheel effect that has often been used to describe constant treadmill usage. Additionally, your running stride is much different on the road than it is on the treadmill belt as each form uses different leg muscles. Treadmill belt propulsion finishes the stride cycle for your body and relies on quads to push off for the next cycle. In comparison, with no belt, your hamstrings are finishing the stride cycle and your quads are still pushing off for the next cycle. Outdoor jogging uses muscles more uniformly and also builds a stronger muscle tolerance.  

For runners who have any health problems or physical limitations, using a treadmill is the safer and more preventative option. All elements are controllable and the belt of a treadmill is much more forgiving than the hard pavement when it comes to the impact on the body. Treadmills are great for those wanting to stay in shape but aren’t looking to compete or drastically change body composition.

However, for those looking to participate in 5Ks, triathlons, races, or physically demanding challenges, they should turn to the outdoors for the optimum terrain challenge. Running outdoors has its own set of pros and cons, but for dedicated runners it can be the ultimate workout. For beginners or air conditioning addicts, treadmills provide a means to build running muscle memory and a quasi-equivalent workout.

If you’re in the market for a quality in-home or in-office treadmill, FITREV can help you discover the perfect workout machine for your lifestyle and workplace. 

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