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The Benefits of Running: Treadmill vs. Outside

By Strength Tree

Running regularly is an effective way to become physically fit. Just 30 minutes a day is enough to increase your bone density, improve your circulation, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

While many athletes enjoy the ease and comfort of running indoors on a treadmill, its effectiveness when compared to running outside is a long-disputed issue. The best running environment for you will depend on your fitness aims and preferences.

Monitoring Your Fitness Progression

Tracking your progress allows you to assess any faults in your routine and ensure that your workout is efficient. The electronic gadgetry fitted to most modern treadmills makes monitoring your workout easy to do. By displaying your speed, distance, heart rate, incline, and calorie expenditure, the digital feedback helps you to easily understand and improve your abilities.  

Top choice: Treadmill

Calorie Expenditure

Weight loss is a popular reason to begin a new exercise regime. If your primary fitness aim is to burn off as many calories as possible, most experts consider outdoor running the best choice.

Negotiating the uneven surface of a road, battling against wind resistance, and propelling yourself along hard, unmoving ground uses up a lot of energy. On a treadmill however, the lack of wind resistance and the soft track offer less of a challenge.

Top choice: Outdoors


The practicality of running outdoors depends largely on where you live. Busy roads, lots of pedestrian crossings, or a lack of sidewalks can make it difficult. Your ability to run regularly may also depend on your local weather conditions because driving wind, torrential rain, or treacherous ice can easily disrupt a routine. In contrast, gyms open early, close late, and are always kept at a comfortable temperature.

Top choice: Treadmill

Performance Benefits

Running outside offers a range of performance related benefits. Most professional runners train outside, at least in part, because it helps them learn to deal with uneven terrain, and by frequently impacting a hard surface, their bones, joints and muscles are strengthened.

The smooth, even surface of a treadmill only prepares you for running in a gym environment and is not as useful if you partake in competitive events.

Top choice: Outdoors


The high price of the average gym membership makes running outside a far cheaper training alternative.  For just the cost of a pair of sneakers and some sports clothes, you can have access to miles and mile of free running track on paths, roads, and in your local park.

Top choice: Outdoors


Running outside is unpredictable, and it is easily possible for you to suffer a slip, fall, heart attack, or asthma attack.  If accidents do occur, training by yourself leaves you vulnerable and without assistance. Jogging late at night or through a high crime area is also risky.

There are several simple safety precautions you should take if you are training outdoors. Being able to contact emergency services when you go running is important, so most sports gear nowadays has a pocket especially designed to hold your cell phone. In addition, it is a good idea to inform a friend or family member of the route you are taking and the time you intend to get back.

If you are beginning your exercise plan from a generally unfit starting point, it is worthwhile spending one or two months at a gym first. The heart rate monitor on treadmills can tell you if you are pushing yourself too hard, and staff members nearly always have some level of first aid training. They can also coach you on the types of exercise that are suitable for your fitness level.

Top choice: Treadmill

Whether you choose outdoor or treadmill running, what is most important is that you enjoy yourself and can keep it up regularly. The best way to decide which style suits you are to get experience of both. Running in any environment means that you are taking positive steps towards becoming fitter and healthier. 


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