Running and jogging are two of the most popular methods of getting exercise for people all over the world. As a solid, aerobic exercise, and one that is easily accessible for anyone, it’s easy to develop an affinity for running or start off with jogging when looking to boost your exercise habits.
As technology continues to advance, inventions like bike desks allow you to get your exercise in while you’re at work or while working from home. But for this article, we’re going to focus on some more traditional methods of running and break down the differences between running outside and running on a treadmill. Which is better for you? Why? Keep reading to find out.
According to Statista, nearly 60 million people reported participating in running, jogging, or trail running in 2017. Additionally, walking as a means of fitness drew 110 million Americans in the same year, and 24 percent of Americans reported that exercise was the primary reason to start running.
And it makes sense if you think about it. You don’t need a gym membership, just two legs and a bearable weather day. It’s the easiest exercise you can do by yourself, and you can begin or stop at your own pace. But are there differences between running on the outside ground and running indoors on a machine?
Outside Vs. Treadmill Running – Pros and Cons
There are many pros and cons to running outside and running on a treadmill. See both arguments below. But if calories are your focus, the answer is clear.
According to The New York Times, several studies have revealed that in general, outdoor running burns about 5 percent more calories than treadmills do. This is attributed to there being more wind resistance outside and the fact that treadmill belts provide some assistance.
But there are many more reasons for choosing to use a treadmill instead, including convenience, not reliant on weather conditions, and more. Keep reading to find out which option is better for you.
Why Use A Treadmill?
The first thing to consider is access. You must have access to a treadmill for that to even be an option. This requires some cost, either in the form of a gym membership or purchasing one yourself. Often, if you live in an apartment, there might be a fitness center that comes included with your lease. But the fact remains that running outside doesn’t require any additional equipment.
However, on a particular gross weather day, like if it’s storming, icy, or too hot to run, your options become limited. Having access to a treadmill allows you to run whenever you’re able; after you get off work late at night or super early in the morning in a secure place. Also, running on a treadmill indoors at night might be safer than running out in the dark around the park or through the city. Or, if you have kids, it can be hard to find time to go run around the block.
Plus, you can track your calories, scale your incline levels, and control and adjust your speed. Using a treadmill eliminates traffic as well: you don’t have to stop for lights, cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists. In this way, a treadmill can be much safer than running outside. A treadmill also often has shock-absorbing components that otherwise would cause damage to your legs while running outside.
Why Run Outside?
Running outside often provides mental benefits on top of the physical ones. A change of scenery after a long day or week of work could be just what the doctor ordered to take care of your mental health. Getting vitamin D from the sun is essential, and the ability to enjoy nature and see new sights is a strong incentive to run outdoors.
This can be much less boring than the mundane environment of a gym or if you’re feeling boxed in at your house or apartment. If you aren’t bored, the possibilities are greater that you’ll run longer and burn more calories.
Plus, depending on where you live, you can run to different areas of your town to mix up your incline, speed, and endurance levels based on the environment around you. While running on a treadmill can get repetitive, running outside allows you to try different runs every time. In this way, you’ll be more refreshed, have more fun, and be more likely to enjoy your running versus it feeling like a chore.
Consider Trail Running
Take your running to the next level by switching up the environment and turf you’re running on. If you’ve ever run on the beach or on a trail, you know it’s more difficult than running on flat or paved surfaces. Trail running provides a new challenge that often brings more exciting views and forces you to become a better runner.
You have to watch where your steps are landing, but taking your jogging or running to a trail will push you to new limits and expand your perspective on the different ways to challenge yourself and mix up your routine.
Conclusion – Which Is Better?
While running outside may feel more difficult, and burns more calories, deciding between outside and a treadmill really depends on several personal factors, including:
- Where you live
- When you can run
- Weather conditions
- If you have children
- What your fitness goals are
- If you have access to a treadmill
Also, it comes down to what you enjoy. Maybe you use running as a way of not only exercising but also sightseeing as well. Treadmills don’t provide the best sights, but they are highly convenient for running whenever works best for you. Running is great for promoting your overall health, so getting into the habit one way or the other is going to be beneficial for you.
Whichever option you choose, you’re working on improving your fitness levels, and that’s what’s most important. Develop a habit that you enjoy and stick to it. You can always mix it up in the future if you wish. For those that really want to push themselves and have the options available, try running on different terrains like a trail or sandy beach.