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Running on Treadmill vs. Outside

Running on Treadmill vs. Outside
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Running is a popular form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, enhanced mood, and increased stamina. However, one common debate among runners is whether it’s better to run on a treadmill or outside.

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll break down those factors to help you make an informed decision about your exercise regimen.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Running on a Treadmill?

Benefits of Running on a Treadmill

  • Controlled Environment: Treadmills allow you to run indoors, making it possible to exercise regardless of weather conditions.
  • Customizable Settings: Treadmills have features that let you adjust the speed and incline of your run.
  • Impact on Joints: Many treadmills feature shock absorption that can reduce the wear and tear on your joints compared to running on hard outdoor surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
  • Safety: Running on a treadmill reduces your risk of tripping over uneven surfaces, making it a safer option for beginners or those with injuries.
  • Convenience: Having a treadmill at home or accessing one at the gym means you can fit a workout into your schedule more easily.

Disadvantages of Running on a Treadmill

  • Monotony: Running on a treadmill can feel monotonous compared to outdoor running, which can affect motivation and enjoyment.
  • Cost: High-quality treadmills can be expensive to buy and maintain, as can gym memberships.
  • Limited Variability: Despite their myriad settings, treadmills can never fully replicate the natural variations and challenges of outdoor terrain.
  • Not Working as Many Muscles: When you run outdoors, you encounter varying terrains that engage your hamstrings more than the smooth, consistent surface of a treadmill.
Treadmill or Elliptical Closer

Is a Treadmill or Elliptical Closer to Running Outside?

The treadmill offers an experience closer to outdoor running than the elliptical. This is primarily due to the treadmill’s straight-line motion, which simulates the natural gait and consistent foot strike pattern of running on pavement or trails. Additionally, most modern treadmills allow users to adjust the incline of their runs to replicate outdoor terrain.

The elliptical requires a different range of motion that doesn’t closely mirror the biomechanics of outdoor running.

What Treadmill Incline Is Equivalent to Running Outside?

Running on a treadmill can feel quite different from running outdoors due to the lack of wind resistance and the uniformity of the treadmill belt’s surface. To better simulate outdoor running conditions, it’s generally recommended that you set the treadmill incline to 1% to 2%. This slight incline makes up for the absence of natural elements like wind and uneven terrain.

Do You Lose Weight Faster on a Treadmill or Outside?

Both running outside and running on a treadmill can generate weight loss. Research indicates that the most effective option for you will be the one you can commit to.

Is it Better to Run on a Treadmill or Outside?

Running outside offers a dynamic environment that can make your workout more engaging and enjoyable. On the other hand, treadmill running provides a controlled environment unaffected by weather, making it a reliable option regardless of season or climate. In addition, treadmills can be preferable for runners recovering from injuries or looking to avoid high-impact surfaces.

Both forms of running have their own unique advantages. The answer as to which is better for you will depend on your preferences and goals.


Both treadmill running and running outdoors have their own distinctive pros and cons. Ultimately, the best choice for you will be the one you enjoy the most.

If you’re looking to optimize your exercise routine, the Sanctuary Wellness Institute can help. When you work with one of our personal trainers, you’ll receive a customized exercise regimen designed to empower you to achieve your goals. What’s more, you’ll enjoy ongoing support and guidance from your trainer via online sessions.

In addition, if you’re seeking to lose weight, the Sanctuary offers an online medical weight loss program in which you can participate from the comfort of your own home. Book a free consultation today to learn more.

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