Which is the best? Running on a Treadmill or Outside?

Usain Bolt, does that name ring a bell in your mind? Of course, it should. One of the best runners in the world. How do you think he trains? Does he train on a treadmill or the race track? That is some food for thought!

Just the other day during a fitness session, a friend of mine expressed some concern about running and how good it is at cutting down weight. The only problem is that she was not decided on whether to run outside or do it from the comfort of her house, on a treadmill.

I just came to realize that most people have the same concern. That is why we are here to help you out. Read on and get to learn more about the benefits of running on a treadmill and running outside.

Arguments for and against running on a treadmill and running outside

  • Energy

When running outside, the energy that you will use is far much more compared to the energy you’ll use running on a treadmill in your house or the gym. When running outside, you will experience resistance from the wind. Hence you will end up using more energy, unlike when you are indoors where there is no wind.

While running outside, you will experience some resistance from the wind, and so your legs will have to propel you forward as your body moves through the wind.

To help you achieve similar results to running outside, you can incline the treadmill to compensate for the absence of wind resistance.

The perfect inclination is at a 1 percent grade. A study has clearly shown that the VO2 max while running on a treadmill is similar to that of running outside. Also, the biomechanical patterns remain the same when a comparison is made on a treadmill or when running outside.

  • General well-being

Running outdoors will do great to your well-being since it makes you enjoy the nature. I have known nature to give me serenity: the flowers, trees, and grass make me feel relaxed, and this is the same I would recommend to you. Interacting with nature will decrease your tension, add to you some positivity and reduce any anger or depression that could be bothering you.

  • Speed

Running on a treadmill will make you feel as if you are running at a very high pace which is not true. This feeling can simply be attributed to the fact that when you are running indoors, you will not be experiencing the similar visual cues to those you get as you run outside.

  • Safety

As you run on a treadmill, the probability of falling, tripping, or getting hit by a low-lying branch are minimal. Trust me; you can still get injured while running on a treadmill, in the safety of your house or the gym. There is a common injury associated with running on a treadmill, known as an overuse injury.

This injury is caused by continuous repetition. Running outside could have its hazard, but it strengthens your muscles and ligaments since your steps will be different due to running on uneven ground. You will also have an improved sense of balance. If you can’t avoid running on a treadmill, you can run on it by varying the incline as well as the speed to avoid overuse injury.

Do you get the Same Workout when running on a Treadmill as compared to Running Outside?

You can achieve the same workout when running on a treadmill as when you are running outside. Your effort level defines the results of your running exercise. Having the same level of effort as you run on the treadmill as the effort you use when running outside will give you similar results. To determine your effort, you can simply determine your heart rate.

Running on your treadmill at the same pace as that you use as you run outside will make you spend less energy due to the absence of wind resistance, change of the terrain among other things.

Raising the treadmill inclination angle will help you make compensation for its momentum. The inclination will ensure that you spend more energy, same as that spent when running outdoors.

Advantages of training on a treadmill

You are assured of personal safety

Makes it easy for the joints as you will not have to strain a muscle since the surface is soft and cushioned

You will not experience barriers due to terrain, weather conditions or temperature changes

Gives you comfort

You can stop at any time when you feel the need

Disadvantages of training on a treadmill

You don’t experience the same running conditions as someone running outside.

You don’t enjoy what nature has to offer like the beautiful scenery

Running outdoors on the other hand also has its advantages and disadvantages. The following are the advantages and disadvantages of running outdoors as compared to running on a treadmill.

Advantages of Running Outdoors

Gives you the chance to experience something new on a daily basis since you can choose to use a different route

Acts as a motivating factor since you cannot drop out of running before you accomplish your mission

Quite challenging due to the varying terrains and you will also end up losing more calories

Gives you peace as you will get to get some fresh air, enjoy nature as well as the beautiful sceneries.

Disadvantages of running outdoors

May not be appropriate in harsh weather conditions

Involves running in uneven terrain

When should you opt to run on a Treadmill rather than outside?

When the weather is bad, running outside can be difficult. For instance, on a rainy day, it could get slippery, and when the sun is extremely hot, you cannot stand the risk.

On a day when you have a bad footing.


In my perspective, outdoor running will always have the upper hand. You will get to interact with nature and get the best from it, and at the same time, your muscles, as well as the ligaments, will get the right exercise.

This is because you will be exposed to a variety of land terrains which will require you to make different kinds of steps and strides. If the only option available to you is running on a treadmill, vary its speed and get it inclined so as to benefit from your running effort as much as people running outside.


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