Remember that seemingly endless supply of energy you had as a kid? Maybe you remember sprinting across the playground or running laps around the school gym. Kids, of course, aren’t often aware that running is a form of aerobic exercise; back then, running was a way to play or get from here to there. But for adults, it’s a way to improve health, increase muscle mass, and maintain a healthy weight.
Running offers us a wealth of health benefits. It’s a great way to lose or maintain a healthy weight. On average, a 140-lb person can expect to burn about 445 calories per hour by jogging. On an eight-minute mile pace, that same runner can increase that number of calories per hour to 751. In addition to weight loss, running also supports heart health and can enhance mental health too.
If you’re ready to commit to running as a pastime and form of exercise, you might be wondering about your options: whether to run outdoors or indoors on a treadmill. Some runners do both. Here, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using indoor treadmills versus outdoor running.
Is Running Outdoors Better?
Some runners prefer the outdoor setting with its dynamic weather and temperature changes. Some people enjoy running in hot weather because they feel like they get in a more intense workout, while others want a cool breeze. If you’re a pet parent, it is a great activity to enjoy with your furry friend. Whether or not running outside is better than running on a treadmill is entirely up to you. However, some of the advantages associated with outdoor running include:
Unlike treadmills that come with a price tag, running outdoors is pretty much free once you purchase a pair of quality running shoes, some running gear, and workout clothing.
People enjoy running outdoors because the setting changes depending on the route they take. The terrain is also dynamic and subject to different surfaces and inclines. For this reason, outdoor running can sometimes feel more exciting than running inside.
Run When Traveling
People who run outdoors can take their sport with them no matter where they travel. It’s pretty hard to pack up a treadmill readily.
If you recently moved to a new city, you can use this as a great strategy to get to know your new community. Or if you moved a few years ago but still don’t know much about your community, this is a great way to familiarize yourself with it.
The Benefits of Running Outdoors
Running outdoors offers an array of mental and physical health benefits similar to those experienced by treadmill runners. These may include:
Running outdoors is associated with increased calorie burning. This is likely due to wind resistance as well as the more challenging terrain associated with outdoor runs.
Simply getting outdoors into the sunshine helps many people feel less stress than staying indoors.
Sunshine and exercise can amazingly brighten the moods of outdoor runners. Runners can take a break from their thoughts, their attention absorbed by the sights and sounds of their run.
The intensity of an outdoor workout and fresh air can improve a person’s sleep quality substantially.
Improved Psychological Well-being
Running outdoors allows you to take a break from your indoor climate, which is a definite benefit for people who spend their workday cooped up inside. Spending time outside can enhance feelings of well-being.
What Are the Cons of Running Outdoors?
Just as the weather can be advantageous to outdoor running when the temperature is optimal, it can also hold back people from running when extreme temperatures or precipitation like rain and snow occur. This is when treadmill lovers will benefit. Some other disadvantages of running outside include:
Risk for Injury
Because of uneven terrain, bumps, cracks, curbs, and debris, outdoor landscapes pose more risks for injury to runners than a treadmill with its predictable surface and programmable inclines.
Running outdoors may also pose a security risk depending on the setting. Although anyone can be subject to harassment or even a crime when running, 54 percent of women have reported sometimes feeling concerned about their security before or during a run – according to a CNN report.
Is Running Better on a Treadmill?
There are many advantages to running on a treadmill and using other indoor workout equipment like ellipticals. Perhaps the most significant benefit to a treadmill is that it is done in the comfort of your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, sleeting, or snowing; runners can take to the treadmill and get their workout in, burning just as many calories as if they were running outdoors.
In addition to its indoor convenience, a treadmill also has benefits such as:
A treadmill features a predictable surface. Unlike the sidewalk or street, there are no bumps, cracks, and potholes that could lead to an accidental slip or fall. Its surface stays the same, so runners can concentrate on choosing to listen to music or an audiobook. You can also go to the extent to work at home by adding a treadmill desk to your home gym or workspace.
Treadmills come with a series of controls that allows you to set your warm-up pace, speed, incline, and cool-down pace. Some models even allow you to set up customized programs designed to support your own workout goals.
Many of today’s treadmills are also outfitted with fitness tracking controls so you can track your progress. In addition to distance tracking functions, some treadmills will also offer heart rate monitoring and step counting.
Treadmill Running Benefits
For many treadmill owners, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of running on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill is a convenient way to exercise indoors at any time. Once you begin using a treadmill, you can expect to enjoy various benefits that may include:
Running on a treadmill is every bit the aerobic exercise as running outdoors on a track or along a running path. While running on a treadmill, you can expect to burn calories, increase physical endurance over time, build muscle mass in your legs, and enhance your heart health. Running can also help boost metabolism.
After a long, frustrating day, many people hit their treadmill because running is an effective way to reduce stress. Running can allow you to take a break from your thoughts and focus on just physical activity.
Running on a treadmill can help release the body’s feel-good endorphins. These endorphins not only target sore muscles, promoting healing, but they also go to work in the brain, triggering positive feelings.
Running on a treadmill can help establish healthy sleep patterns. Not only can running help you fall asleep more quickly, but it may even improve your quality of sleep.
A treadmill routine can help you increase your self-image and feelings of confidence. The goals you set and work towards can provide you with a positive focus that can enhance your psychological well-being, just like running can improve your physical health.
What Are the Cons of Running on a Treadmill?
Of course, not all runner enthusiasts use a treadmill 100 percent of the time. One of the disadvantages of treadmills can be their price tag. According to Consumer Reports, a top-rated treadmill can cost over $4,000. The average cost, however, is about $600. The higher-end models come with a broader range of functions, including special fitness tracking applications. So we recommend contacting the experts to check out your best options. A few other cons associated with treadmill use include:
Space and Weight
Most treadmills require space and, once set up, can be cumbersome to move around. Some manufacturers offer fold-up models on wheels that store away easily when not in use, but you still need the space for a stored-up treadmill. And, if you’re in an apartment or smaller area, it can be hard to find the room for a set-up treadmill when you’re using it.
When something goes wrong with a treadmill, it typically requires the help of a maintenance professional. You may live in an area where this type of skill isn’t readily available, making fixing your treadmill difficult.
Running indoors can become boring if you tire of staring at your own walls during a run. For this reason, many indoor runners prefer to listen to music or set up a television in their home gym. Just FYI, these are things to think about when deciding to build your home gym.
Deciding What Is Best for You
When deciding whether to run on a treadmill or hit the outdoor track, you should consider your community. How safe is it to run in your town or city? Are there specially designated areas for runners, such as trails or an outdoor track? Are these features monitored for security? And of course, you’ll also want to consider your preferences after weighing all the pros and cons associated with each. It is also easy to say that the best option might be to do both. So you can take advantage of all the benefits and avoid the cons when they present themselves!
If you plan to run, you may want to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that you have a green light to exercise. Running can be strenuous. You may benefit from a personalized consultation with your medical caregiver before you begin your running regimen.
Always be sure that you warm up properly before you start running. You’ll need to find or develop a stretching workout that you can perform before you run. These habits will help you prevent injuries. Also, be sure you stay hydrated during your runs. You may want to purchase a lightweight water bottle when shopping for your running gear. You can find even more tips before you start running here.
Before running, you’ll need to purchase some running shoes specially designed for runners, this is really important. These shoes will provide you with the optimum support you need whether you’re running outdoors or on a treadmill. Other gear you might want to buy could include running shorts, t-shirts, sun hats, and sweatbands. If you intend to run outdoors, don’t forget to purchase sunglasses to protect your eyes. This would be a really good excuse to splurge a little on yourself! Or you’re partner if you are deciding to run together.