Is Running On A Treadmill The Same As Running Outside?

Is Running On A Treadmill The Same As Running Outside?

You would have heard people saying, ‘if you have health, you have wealth.’ It is indeed true; health is the biggest blessing for us. Diseases can take away the joy of life, regardless of the wealth you own.

Once your health declines, the material objects won’t bring any pleasure. Nonetheless, staying in good health isn’t a difficult task. All you need is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, where your body uses the calories it consumes.

Running is a great exercise to keep you healthy; it has numerous cardiovascular benefits and tones your muscles. Studies have proven a 30-minute workout can burn up to 17 calories per minute for an average 80-kg male.

Similarly, it will help you build your lower body muscles and prepare them for challenging terrains. However, whenever we think of beginning a running routine, the first question is where to start.

A runner usually has two options- treadmill and outdoor. Both options have pros and cons, and choices may differ. An outdoor runner thinks of a treadmill as a ‘dreadmill,’ while for a treadmill runner, outdoor running is running through the ‘hellfire.’

The former might object to the boring workouts that take the fun out of running, while for the latter, the wind breezing at the face puts them off their track into a non-healthy lifestyle.

If you are beginning your running routine, you will also have to decide whether to go for treadmill running or outdoor running. In this blog, we will discuss the two running types, their pros & cons, and whether they are different.

Remember, exercise isn’t designed to bring instant results, so you must choose a style that suits your comfort so that you can stick to it.

What’s the difference?

While our body is fundamentally doing the same thing on both occasions, running outdoors is quite different from treadmill training. The first difference is the wind resistance; once you are running outdoors, air resistance is unavoidable.

Sometimes, it will push you from the back, helping you in your run, while in other cases, it would be right at your face, slowing the process down. In treadmill running, you don’t have to face air resistance; you can run at a fixed pace without external interference.

Another key difference is your body movement; once you are running outdoors, your feet will have to propel the road and exert a force to move forward; it creates a more significant impact on your leg muscles.

However, you don’t have to do the same on a treadmill; you simply have to maintain the same pace as the belt, and the minutes will be recorded. Similarly, if you can jump and stretch without falling off track, your exercise time will keep increasing.

Thirdly, the other difference is the terrain; some parks are designed to create enjoyable landscapes for trainers; they contain different inclines and declines that add to the effort.

Similarly, the trees reduce air resistance in some areas, while open spaces don’t have air-stoppers. Practically, you can replicate the situation on a treadmill by changing the incline grade, but most trainers would usually stick to an incline and keep up with it for every workout interval.

Nonetheless, the most important thing for us is to measure whether outdoor running provides better results than indoor running. Experts have studied the subject in great detail, and they have concluded that a 1% incline on a treadmill requires the same effort as outdoor running at the same speed.

It means your body will have to go through the same strain and struggle to walk on a 1% incline treadmill as outdoors.

It is also proven that while fresh air may create a difference, overall, your body’s biomechanical processes take the same impact from both types of running. Hence, the results and calories burned in both methods would be similar.

The 1% incline sets off the effect of air resistance and changing terrains that may create a different experience running outdoors. Once we have justified it, running outdoors brings the same results as indoor running. It is important to judge them by their pros & cons. It shall help you decide your best choice. 

Outdoor Running Benefits


The biggest advantage of running outdoors is the ease of entry; you don’t have to think twice about your pocket’s burden before starting your jogging session. Outdoor running only requires you to have a good pair of trainers and a training kit, and you are all set to run.

No high costs are involved due to the lack of equipment required. Some runners may have to buy a torch or reflector to jog in an outdoor setting at night, but you could still avoid the cost by training in the sunshine.

An Upcoming Race Day

The best advantage of outdoor running is the training for future races; once you run outdoors, you will have to face higher air resistance and more demanding terrain. They not only require you to push your body to its limits, but it is also the same environment that you’ll face on a race day.

When you train on a track, you’ll be able to replicate the race day and will have better preparations for it. A cemented track doesn’t have elastane abilities, meaning your body will face a higher rebound effect that adds difficulty for outdoor runners.

However, if you train in the same setting for a considerable time, you will develop a habit of the consistent increased struggle, and it will be easier to manage your goals accordingly.

Higher Calories Burn

Outdoor runs present additional challenges for runners alongside running, which makes their exercise more intense, resulting in higher calorie burn. Once you run outdoors, your body is exposed to air resistance; it slows you down, and you would need additional effort to maintain a consistent pace.

Similarly, your feet will have to exert a force on the ground to move forward – the faster you move, the greater the power exercised. Hence, you exert more effort, which results in more sweating and weight loss. Moreover, roads have unique terrains that have different inclines.

Your body will have to adjust to higher inclines and exert greater force to surpass them. The additional effort boosts your blood pressure to the fat-burning zone and increases your metabolism.

Enjoyable Workouts

While you can replicate most of the previous advantages on a treadmill, the joy of workouts can’t be equal for both treadmill running and outdoors. Outdoor running presents a chance to explore new areas in your local area; it allows you to breeze past beautiful sceneries and breathe in the fresh air.

It helps reduce stress and sets off a newer perspective on life. Similarly, outdoor running helps you meet other runners in your area who could possibly become your running partners. They will not only help you stay motivated to work out but also help you with the technical aspect of running.

Hence, outdoor running is equally suitable for curbing depression and anxiety as it is at creating a calorie deficit.

Treadmill Running Pros

Flexible Hours

The best advantage for treadmill runners is the flexibility of exercise times. It is hard to imagine runners sprinting outside round your area at midnight; not a good idea in anyone’s books!

However, you don’t need to care about the perfect timing when running on a treadmill.

Any time of the day is perfect as long as you are ready to work out and burn calories. The flexibility also helps you stick to your goals and avoid missing out due to tiny excuses.

Some beginners will skip a workout because they feel too lazy to drive to a park or other place, but with a treadmill, all you have to do is to motivate yourself to step on the treadmill belt and set the dial to begin your exercise.

Reduce Injury Chances

A common problem amongst outdoor runners is their vulnerability to knees and joint injuries. The issue isn’t mainly due to weaker bones or inapt health; it is basically due to the rebound effect.

Every action has an equal reaction; once you sprint, your foot exerts a force on the ground, and as the pavement is made of tarmac or cement, it is usually tough, and it won’t absorb the impact; therefore, you would feel a greater impact. The impact transfers from your shoes to the foot and as high as the knees, making you prone to injuries.

Injuries don’t only sideline you for some time, but they also demotivate a regular workout routine, and many people tend to stop trail running after their first injury despite its health benefits.

A treadmill belt is intelligently designed to be perfect for your joints and help you lose weight. Most treadmills have an elastane belt made of polythene; the belt absorbs your foot pressure and transmits negligible amounts back.

It prevents a rebound effect, and you can run for longer on a treadmill. Similarly, the treadmill belt propels you forward due to the smart design, and you won’t have to use hamstring muscles; it prevents you from any lower body injuries and helps you stay committed to the workout routine.

The latest treadmills come with an 8-point suspension system; it is an advanced model that prevents the destabilization of the treadmill and keeps it working for a long time. It also helps your workout and avoids spine injuries or posture problems.

Longer Workouts

While runners can burn more calories in a short time by running outdoors, the cumulative total for treadmill running is often higher than the other type. It is usually because treadmills are designed to reduce runners’ fatigue and help them train longer.

With their suspension systems, the treadmill belt propels your foot to move; hence, you have to exert less force for every stride. A curved treadmill also allows you to sprint faster as it keeps your upper body constant, and the shape of the arch eases running.

Also, the treadmill belt is designed to absorb ground reaction forces.

Another reason for longer workouts is consistent speed; when running outdoors, you may note that your exercise rate declines over the duration of your run. The speed at the beginning is quick, more of your stamina is used up front, and the final period of the workout gets tough.

Often, runners have to cut their training short due to a lack of energy/strength and end up walking towards the end. However, you can set a fixed pace at a treadmill; it allows you to build up the workout by having a proper warmup and gradually pacing it up. The format will enable you to work out longer and burn more calories. 

No Weather Interference

If you are a lazy runner, any slight excuse is enough to miss a workout day. If it’s raining, it is a good enough reason to skip outdoor running; similarly, if it’s too hot, you’re obviously going to melt and so stay in your comfort zone on your sofa.

A treadmill helps you avoid these excuses to get you in your best physical shape. A treadmill is used in a controlled environment; the temperature and moisture can be altered to suit your workout needs. Similarly, you can change your workout’s incline with a simple tap of a button.

Everything is under your control, and you can train with no interruptions. 

Conclusion: What Should You Choose?

We have discussed the pros for both alternatives; the cons aren’t necessarily crucial as the con for one is the pro for the other. Both choices have significant pros and can help you achieve your desired health.

Our goal should be to minimize the cons while making the most of the advantages. For outdoor running, it is pretty difficult to replicate the same controlled environment as treadmill running.

Similarly, the vulnerability to injuries and joint pain is an inevitable outcome. However, for the treadmill, the disadvantages can be cured relatively easily.

You can easily find an affordable treadmill by researching the site and finding a good option. If you can’t get a new one, you can always get a used one; although with the great offers and options available you may as well take advantage, avoiding any issues with faulty or worn products second-hand.

Also, you can often buy treadmills on credit terms and pay an instalment after each interval. It will also provide you with a cover for repairs and other problems.

You can also cure boring treadmill workouts by using other distractions. You can place the treadmill in front of your TV and watch it while you work out.

It will help you stay distracted; similarly, you can use Kinomap or other apps to explore different running routes while running on a treadmill. The treadmill can be connected to the application, and the scenery will change as your distance changes.

As I mentioned earlier, scientific research has proven that a 1% incline can replicate the same running effort on an outdoor run. However, it keeps you protected against more ground reaction forces, and you can work out in a completely controlled environment.

Similarly, you can train for longer intervals and prepare better for a race day.

After looking at both sides and their solutions, it is pretty clear to have a single answer that is treadmill running. However, treadmill running doesn’t have to mean you stop outdoor running as a result.

You can still change your workout routine and go for outdoor jogs once in a while. The atmosphere will help you lose your stress and endorse better physical health. It will also help you get into a network of fitness freaks who will help you pursue your goals with increased motivation. The right match can help you achieve the best results.

I hope this article has given you an insight into which option is best for you but regardless of your choice the main thing to take away is that they’re both great options, so get those trainers on and get running today!


Should I buy a treadmill for running?

People make different choices, and there is no right or wrong answer. Outdoor running has its benefits and is easy to practice. You will be able to burn more calories in less time. It will allow you to meet new people and explore new locations in your surroundings.

However, it makes you prone to injuries, and there is always a chance of recurring knee pain.

On the other hand, treadmill running could be a better option. It has more diverse workout modes that can also help you practice HIIT workouts without any direction required from a trainer.

Similarly, it will protect you against knee and joint pains, and you may possibly be able to enjoy your workout for a longer period.

However, the main problem with the treadmill is its high cost. An excellent motorized treadmill will cost about £1000, with additional electricity and repair costs. The price may be higher for a curved treadmill.

At the end of the day, it is your choice to decide, it’s just a case of which you prefer when choosing how to run comfortably and consistently.

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