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Running and Trail Running Blog

How effective is running on a treadmill compared to running outdoors?

Running Sunglasses for road running

Did you know that running increases the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in addition to improving respiratory health? Well, regular physical activity has several benefits, especially running.

Typically, hobbyist and avid runners either go for an outdoor run or use a treadmill. Both are highly popular activities in running. However, there has been an ongoing debate about which one is more effective than the other.

Experts have studied and debated this topic for years without reaching a satisfying conclusion. So now, we have addressed the subject by comparing the two different disciplines of running and analyzing their advantages and disadvantages.

The positive aspects of the treadmill and running outdoors

Running on tapis roulant
Running on a treadmill has its respective advantages. You don’t have to worry about attire or fear developing ankle problems. With a comfortable machine that reduces joint impact, you can enjoy your fitness activity like never before.

For beginners, perhaps the treadmill offers an advantage over outdoor running because it has a greater capacity to absorb shocks (which is especially beneficial for individuals aiming for weight loss). The cushioned surface absorbs impacts in a completely different way than asphalt, thus placing less stress on ankles and joints.
Additionally, when you’re on the treadmill, you can accomplish about 2-3 other activities, such as browsing a website you haven’t had time for. You can listen to music or maybe flip through a magazine. This is particularly applicable during brisk walking workouts or recovery runs.

Furthermore, it keeps your fitness program independent. You don’t have to rely on the weather to determine whether you can go for a run today or not. Being indoors, you can set a schedule and exercise according to your training needs.

When it comes to outdoor running, however, be aware that it also has numerous respective advantages. The variable terrain teaches better lessons in running technique compared to cushioned surfaces. It helps build endurance. The challenges that come with it foster a sporting spirit and allow us to fully appreciate nature.
Running glasses for running and trail running demon

The negatives

Treadmills can have great advantages, but the disadvantages should not be overlooked. According to CPSC reports, treadmills cause approximately 24,000 injuries each year in the United States. These injuries include both short-term and long-term effects.

Short-term effects (strains, falls, and injuries) Long-term effects (cardiovascular problems due to overexertion) Furthermore, treadmills are stationary. You can’t go downhill or uphill. (These movements strengthen leg muscles.)

You also can’t do intervals. And honestly, running with a panel in front of you for long periods can be particularly boring.

Sure, you can listen to music and podcasts. You can watch your beloved shows and movies. But how long before the entertainment turns into boredom?

Well, in the case of outdoor running, you can see different things every day. And let’s not forget about those out-of-control machines, passion-blinded cyclists, and our feline friends waiting to pounce on any passerby.

Even outdoors can present challenges. The rule of running with common sense while respecting the rules of the road applies.

Yellow fluorescent trail running women glasses with mirrored lenses

Both outdoor running and treadmills have their advantages and limitations. However, the circumstances of the global pandemic in 2020 have increased the demand for treadmill purchases.

Isolated and socially distant, the new norm advises staying confined within our homes. The more you stay indoors, physically distant from others, the safer you will be.

During quarantine, the majority of running enthusiasts spent their time indoors. They didn’t get to experience outdoor life for weeks, if not months!

In such a circumstance, where outdoor life was a red zone and people were working from home, treadmills proved to be an efficient way to run. You could get all the required physical activity and stay fit without fearing to violate the imposed rules.

Well, the convenience and ease offered by treadmills during the pandemic opened up a new dimension of desk exercise. Believe it or not, treadmills allow people to work out right in front of their desks!


Analyzing the pros and cons, the advice is to alternate between the treadmill and outdoor running during the colder months to avoid injuries caused by the cold, and to run outdoors as soon as temperatures rise.

The treadmill remains a valid option for days with adverse weather conditions, to avoid interrupting or altering the training schedule.

Running on tapis roulant or outdoor differences

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