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Running Outdoors VS Treadmill

Do you love hitting the gym and running on a treadmill? Or are you more into running in the great outdoors? Maybe you're into both? With so many New Year's Resolutions involving running, we thought we'd explore the benefits and pitfalls of running indoors vs. outdoors!

running outside vs running on  a treadmill

Which will make you more fit?

The biggest difference here is wind resistance and terrain changes. When you're running outdoors, you have to deal with the forces of nature, making your run more likely to be more challenging. A study conducted by Exeter University, however, found that you can compensate for this on the treadmill by setting the gradient to 1%.


Being outdoors means fighting with environmental challenges, especially in urban areas where you have to stop at intersections, dodge bystanders, make sharp turns and run up and down hill. If your goal is to run a marathon or a triathlon, you'd be better to run outdoors to get your body accustomed to the changing terrain.


Conclusion: Even with the gradient increase, we think the changing environment of the great outdoors makes for a more challenging run.


According to a study carried out in Singapore, you are more likely to run slower on a treadmill. Participants were asked to run outdoors, then match their speed on a treadmill, however, researchers discovered that when on the treadmill, they ran significantly slower.  This may be due to the surroundings being observed during the run. Whatever the reason, we seem to unconsciously run faster outdoors.


Conclusion: Outdoors takes this one hands down. What could be more motivating than seeing the end the track in sight, or the end of the trail?


When running outdoors, you have to be aware of your surroundings. Falling branches, cars, slippery surfaces and many other things can be hazardous and cause injury. Don't be fooled though, the treadmill comes with its own set of trouble! When running on a treadmill, your feet hit the surface using the same movement over and over again, which puts you at a higher risk for joint or ligament damage. You can help avoid this by alternating your speed and incline. Compared to when you run outside, your feet are always running on a variety of surfaces, making it a constant challenge for your muscles and can even help improve your sense of balance.


That being said, we have to agree that when the weather is bad, the treadmill has a definite advantage! A nice drizzle can be relaxing to run in, but we'll skip the downpour and thunder and lightening. And there's definitely no encounters with nasty animals.


Conclusion: Treadmill takes this one! No banana peels to contend with or accidentally stepping into dog poo...

Better for Overall Health?

The University of Exeter found that exercising in natural environments helped improve feelings of revitalisation, decreased tension, confusion, anger, depression and helped increase energy levels. It was also discovered that those who exercised outdoors genuinely enjoyed it more than working out inside. Being outside also exposes you to sunshine, increasing your vitamin D levels.


Though, when it comes to calorie count, treadmill may have the advantage. There's no need to stop and go, no distractions or people to watch out for, so you're more likely to just keep running and maintain your momentum, burning more calories.


Conclusion: We think this is a tie. Though one or the other may be better suited depending on your goals, both activities will help improve your overall health.



- Running outdoors is a must if you're training for a marathon or triathlon or any outdoor activity.
- Though running on the treadmill may be safer, remember to change the speed and incline during your run to avoid joint and ligament damage.
- Running outdoors has a greater chance at reduces feelings of depression.