Is Treadmill or Running Outside Better?

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of equipment at any gym. Add that to all the treadmills that people have at home and you’d wonder if there was anyone left actually running outdoors. Regardless of the popularity of the machines, is a treadmill or running outside better? In this article, we’ll go over a list of pros and cons for each type of running and try and figure out which is better.

Temperature and Weather

One of the major problems of motivating yourself to run outdoors is when the weather turns bad. No one really wants to jog in snow, torrential rain or blistering heat, so it takes some extra willpower to force yourself out into extreme weather. With a treadmill, it doesn’t really matter what’s happening outside. You’ll get the same consistent run you do every time you hit the machine. That said if you always stick with the treadmill you’re missing out on the fresh air.

Pace and Terrain

On a treadmill, you get to choose the pace and you’ll always know the belt you’re running on will be forgiving to your knees and other joints. Want to push yourself a little more? Just turn up the speed and the incline. When you’re running outdoors the terrain is dictated to you and that will affect your pace. You’re going to have a harder time running up a sandy hill than you will running down the sidewalk. And although this may seem like a disadvantage, what this varied pace and terrain does is makes you better able to keep your balance while improving your stability. You also get real experience for what you’d face if you ever entered a marathon or other road race.

When Can I Stop?

When you’re running on a treadmill you can stop whenever you feel like it. If you need to go to the bathroom, it’s close by. When you’re running outside, simply stopping halfway through your session may leave you miles away from home and a convenient toilet. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your perspective of motivation. A treadmill may make it too easy to give up if you just aren’t feeling it. When you’re running outdoors, you’ll always have to get yourself back home – even if you have to take a bus or taxi.

Safety and Accessibility

It’s true that outdoor running leaves you more prone to injury. The surface you’re running on is less likely to be as forgiving as a treadmill. Running alone at night can be a dangerous proposition in certain neighbourhoods. That said, if you want to run on a treadmill, you’ll either have to join a gym or spend some money for your own piece of private gear. And almost no matter where you are in the word, you can go outside for a jog. It may be tough to find a treadmill if you’re nowhere near civilization.


Coming to a decision about which is the better running method really depends on who you are and what you’re looking to accomplish. If you’re planning on entering road races, there’s no doubt that it’s hard to beat the experience gained by outdoor running. But, if you just want to ensure you’re consistently raising your heart rate with a low risk of injury and few external forces to dampen your motivation, then maybe a treadmill is for you.

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