Running on a Treadmill VS Running Outside: Which Is Better for You?

There’s been much debate about whether running on a treadmill is better than running outside. Many people argue that one has a more significant health benefit than the other. But the good news for you is that whichever you choose, you can still have a great workout and do great things for your body.

Yet there are always pros and cons that you can consider to help you choose between running on a treadmill vs. outside. We are here to help you with just that. So read our article, and you might learn something new that can help you on your journey on fitness.

Definition of Running on a Treadmill and Outside

Treadmills are one of the most popular ways to get your daily cardio exercise. It’s convenient for the various running condition features it offers and gives you the ability to exercise from the warmth of your home or the gym. But it’s also great for its excellent weight loss purposes.

Running outside, meanwhile, can activate every muscle in your body, making sure that you get the best training for any type of fitness or weight loss. In addition to its health benefits, it will significantly transform your body into the one you want it to be.

So, let’s check out our pros and cons of running on a treadmill vs. running outside.

Treadmill Running Pros and Cons

Pros of Running on a Treadmill

  • No Weather Problems

Running on a treadmill lets you work out in a controlled environment, safe from inclement weather. Running outdoors in bad weather can be uncomfortable. You risk exposing yourself to dehydration and heat exhaustion if you run in hot weather. Meanwhile, it’s equally risky to go out for a run in snow or ice and accidentally slip or catch a cold. On a treadmill, you don’t have these problems. You don’t need to make sure you have the right outdoor gear, nor do you need to expose yourself to the elements just to get exercise on that day.

  • It’s Convenient and Safer

If you have a treadmill at home and you decide at 10 p.m. that you would like to run, you don’t need to go outside into the dark of night. Instead, you can just turn on your treadmill, work out in front of your TV and watch a bit of Netflix while you run. It’s convenient and safer since you can now avoid running alone in the dark.

  • Multitasking

Having a treadmill at home is terrific for multitasking. You can put it in front of your TV, watch your kids or pets and don’t have to be away from home for an hour to exercise. You can even check up on your cooking while running since you can always pause the treadmill whenever you’d like.

  • Use Race-Like Features and Control Your Own Pace

If you are training for a marathon and want to prepare yourself for rough parts (hills, mountains) but don’t have that kind of terrain around you, don’t worry. You can just hop onto your treadmill and adjust it to replicate different scenarios. You can also try out your new running gear and see how it operates under those conditions.

In addition, if you run outside, it can be hard to keep up the same pace. But if you try your hand – or should I say foot – on a treadmill, you can adjust and control your rate. You can also see how many miles you’ve run so far, and you can set new goals.

Cons of Running on a Treadmill

Although running on a treadmill can be considered safer, there are still some risks, and you can still get hurt.

  • Pushing Too Hard

A treadmill can malfunction and suddenly stop working at any time. This can lead to you falling off, tripping, and getting injured. And because a treadmill can be easily adjusted, people can even push themselves to run longer or faster than they should, which can also cause many injuries. I, for one, hate when I have to suddenly go off a treadmill because it always makes me feel dizzy.

  • No Downhill or Turning Feature

If you are training for a 5K or marathon where the course winds left and right downhill, a treadmill can’t replicate those conditions. You can’t turn right or left on your treadmill, so if you want to work on your race turning style, the treadmill is not for you.

  • It Can Get Boring

If you plan to run for hours on a treadmill, you may find yourself getting bored. Even if you listen to music or watch TV while on a treadmill, it can get very monotonous. Very few changes in that environment can get boring very quickly.

Outdoor Running Pros and Cons

Being able to enjoy nature’s beauty is just one of the great things you get to experience while running outside. But there are always problems lurking too. So let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros of Running Outside

  • The Beauty of Nature

If you want to feel the fresh air while you are running and not listen to the droning motor of a treadmill, then you should most definitely try running outside. Almost every city in the world has a running park where you can meet people on the same fitness journey as you while enjoying the view of nature or the magnificent city around you.

  • No Expense; Run Anywhere

Buying a treadmill is not cheap. In addition, it can malfunction or stop working altogether, meaning you’ll need to get it repaired. But you can always put on your running shoes and go outside to your nearest park for free.

Also, if you are fond of traveling, you don’t need to bring your treadmill with you, nor do you need to find a hotel with a gym. All you need to do is go outside and run.

  • Burning Calories

Studies have shown that running outdoors burns more calories than running on a treadmill. So if your goal is to get rid of fat, it’s best to go with the actual running.

  • Sport Training

We have mentioned above that although a treadmill has many features, it does not have every feature that can help you train for a specific aspect of running. For example, it cannot reproduce downhill running, which activates the muscles in the front of your legs. But, on the other hand, you can train for any specific sport by running outdoors through obstacles.

Cons of Running Outside

  • You Can Hurt Yourself

While running outdoors, you can encounter obstacles and hurt yourself by overcoming them. The most common injuries during outdoor running are to the knees, ankles, and feet. However, it can be perilous if you already have an injury in one or more of those areas. In those situations, running outdoors is not advised.

  • The Ever-Changing Weather

It doesn’t matter if you run during summer or winter; bad weather can always surprise you. Even if you are prepared for rain or snow, it can still be hazardous to run in those elements, and it comes with a lot of downsides for your health.

  • Danger Is Lurking

Running alone can get pretty scary and dangerous. Things such as downed tree limbs, cars, animals, or even other people can make running in the dark outdoors an unsafe situation.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

If you are a visual person like me, we have an infographic that will explain the pros and cons of running on a treadmill vs. outdoors.

running on treadmill vs outside knees | running on treadmill vs outside for weight loss | why can i run on a treadmill but not outside

How to Decide Between Running on a Treadmill vs. Running Outside

Despite your running preference, it does not have to be one or the other. It can be both. Yet if you still want to know which is more effective between the two, we have prepared bullet points on the subject that may also help you along the way.

Run on a treadmill if:

  • You prefer the comforts of your own home or the gym.
  • You want to multitask while exercising.
  • You want to control your running pace.
  • You want to burn more fat.

Run outside if:

  • You want to enjoy nature while exercising.
  • You want to burn more calories.
  • You don’t want to pay for a gym membership or buy your own treadmill.
  • You want a more efficient way to prepare for a marathon.

Final Thoughts on Running on a Treadmill vs. Running Outside

Running can be a great way to add movement to your life. The pros of the sport of running are many. It will train not only your body but also your brain. You will control your fitness journey by doing an activity that you don’t have to have a unique talent for. Running on a treadmill or outside are beneficial, and both have risks. So, if one or the other – or even both – suits you, it’s your choice. But if you have to decide, we hope we have made it a bit easier for you to choose which to use for your fitness journey.

Do you prefer running outside or on a treadmill? Let us know in the comment below which exercise suits you the best.

running on treadmill vs outside | disadvantages of treadmill running | pros and cons of running outside