What's Better For You: Treadmill Or Running Outdoors? Find Out Here!

What's Better For You: Treadmill Or Running Outdoors? Find Out Here!

Running, being the vital part of cardio, has always been a topic of debate amongst fitness enthusiasts. Some say outdoor running is more beneficial, while others claim that the treadmill offers more versatility in terms of speed and strength. And there are some who believe it doesn't make a difference. Every runner has a different opinion based on their targets. However, outdoor running and running inside a gym are two very different concepts. 

Did you know most athletes and their coaches prefer outdoor training over indoors? Turns out, there's a good reason for that. To understand it better, let's dig into the four factors that majorly affect running - energy, safety, speed and exposure for well-being.    


Running outdoors consumes more energy as compared to a run on the treadmill because of wind resistance and diverse road structure - you run on a footpath, on the grass or on a road. This variety helps the body release and receive energy in the most natural way possible. However, as per a study conducted by Professor Andrew Jones of Exeter University, if a runner runs on 1% gradient on a treadmill, the energy difference between outdoor and indoor running can be compensated. 

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Gym protects you from tripping on the road, bumping into a tree and traffic or getting stuck with mud on your shoes. However when it comes to injuries, gym machines are equally risky, if not used properly. In fact, consistent running on the treadmill can lead to an overuse injury. 

When you're moving on a treadmill, you cut off from everything and your foot hits the surface a thousand times in one mile on an average. This process is monotonous and the lack of variety can put you at a greater risk of joint or ligament damage. So if you are not a fan of outdoor running, do make sure to balance a combination of the incline and speed.     


Have you ever felt that by running on a treadmill for 10 minutes straight, you did a great job? Turns out that we tend to overestimate our hard work on the treadmill. As per a study carried out in Singapore, indoor runners feel that they are running faster even when they are running significantly slower. This experiment made scientists realise how different indoor running is when compared to outdoors for a human brain as well. It's not just your body that reacts differently to the outdoor environment, but your brain also gives you cues of visuals when you are running indoors and this causes an illusion.     

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Exposure for well-being 

Running indoors may seem more relaxing, but that's just an illusion. Your body and mind feel more relaxed and are more receptive when sweating in a natural environment. Outdoors not only pull you close to nature, but as per a study done by Exeter University, exercising in greener places can help you revitalise, decrease tension and confusion, and even diffuse anger.

When you exercise outside, you tend to enjoy it more, and the workout feels more satisfying. It also exposes you to natural Vitamin D from sunlight which is extremely important for a human body.  

While running inside you give limited visions to your brain, but outdoors, the visions are cleaner, happier, natural and more realistic.

So, is a treadmill worth the effort?

Clearly, outdoor running is a healthier option but you can always create a balance of indoor and outdoor exercises to make your training more versatile. Go for a balanced 'incline' on your treadmill and give your mind and body a regular breather by going out in the sun.

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