Running on a Treadmill vs. Running Outside

Is it better to work out inside or outdoors? That question weighs on the minds of many runners, especially since treadmills are specifically designed for their preferred fitness activity. Learn more about the benefits of running on a treadmill vs. outside to decide which one is the best fit for you.

Workout Intensity: Running

One of the biggest factors to consider in this debate is the quality of your workout. You actually get more muscle activation when you run outside. That’s because the movement of the treadmill belt does some of the work propelling you forward with each step. In addition, you could be at a greater risk for injury on a treadmill because the movement is so repetitive and linear. Essentially, running outside is more conducive to a natural running gait while also requiring more exertion.

Convenience: Treadmill

Treadmills win when it comes to convenience. If you have one at home, you can safely run at any time, day or night. You can keep an eye on your kids rather than arranging childcare. You can keep water nearby and watch TV or listen to music. Running outside, on the other hand, requires planning ahead. Fortunately, you can use a FlipBelt to bring along a phone and headphones, a water bottle and other necessities when you run outdoors.

Cost: Running

Running outdoors is free, which makes it the clear winner in this category. You can step outside anytime you want without having to pay a dime. Treadmills, on the other hand, are a relatively expensive investment. Those who can’t afford a treadmill or don’t have room for one have to get access through a gym, which requires monthly fees and doesn’t guarantee a machine will always be available when you need one. 

Control: Treadmill

It’s much easier to create a controlled setting when you use a treadmill. If you’re going to run a hilly race, for example, you can use the treadmill to simulate those conditions (which is especially helpful if you don’t have hills to run on near your home). You can also control the pace and track your mileage easily. It’s certainly possible to do those things when running outdoors, but it will require more effort and planning on your part.  Using the FlipBelt Zipper Running Belt ensures that you can keep essential items close by even with high-impact treadmill running.

Environment and Weather: It Depends

Studies have found that outdoor exercise offers benefits for your mental wellbeing. Being surrounded by a natural environment helps to decrease tension and depression and can leave you feeling more energized and revitalized after a workout. However, conditions like icy roads, extreme heat or heavy storms can put you at risk when you run outside. When it’s dark out, it’s also important to take extra precautions by wearing a FlipBelt Reflective PT Belt for added safety. Treadmills, on the other hand, make it possible to stick to your running routine or squeeze in a workout even when the weather outside isn’t cooperating.

Treadmills and running outdoors each have their pros and cons. Running outside is superior for your fitness and muscle activation, but treadmills can be a great alternative when it’s not convenient or safe. And while treadmills can be great for race prep and pace control, it’s best to incorporate some outdoor running in your training as well to get the benefits of both.


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