- Exercise & Fitness
Is it Better to Run Outside or on the Treadmill?
When it comes to exercise, you can’t get much more effective than running. It may not be the most fun activity out there (although my marathon maniac sister might beg to differ), but it certainly gets the job done. Not only is it just about the most efficient way to burn calories, but it’s been shown to strengthen your heart and lungs, promote a healthy flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body, and build your stamina. Plus, because it induces pressure on your legs and back, it’s considered a weight-bearing exercise, meaning it builds bone density. As if that wasn’t enough, research indicates running regularly can add a few extra years to your life.
So, there’s no doubt that running is a great exercise to pick up, but how should you go about doing it? That is, should you head for the treadmill or the great outdoors? It depends.
If you’re looking for less impact…
Go for the treadmill. There’s a reason they speak of pounding the pavement. When running outside, your feet are beating down on concrete and your body is what absorbs the shock. Technology in treadmills on the other hand continues to evolve and the machines you can get today are equipped with cushioning and shock absorbers that help reduce the impact. They won’t completely eliminate it, but running on a treadmill is a lot more forgiving than running on a concrete sidewalk.
If you’re looking for a better workout…
Head outside. All that fresh air blowing in your face creates wind resistance, which according to some studies can increase your workload by 2% to 10% (depending on your running speed). In addition, when running on a treadmill you’re moving in a confined space on a belt that is helping to propel you along, which means a shorter, less powerful stride. You can help even the playing field by increasing the incline on your treadmill by as little as 1%, but just make sure you’re not holding onto the treadmill – it decreases the energy your leg muscles need to exert and therefore reduces your calorie burning power.
If you’re looking for less boredom…
It’s a toss-up. These days treadmills are equipped with everything from iPod® ports to built-in TVs to Internet capabilities, making your workout seem a little less monotonous. For some runners though, nothing beats the freedom and scenery of the great outdoors, allowing them to pass the miles as they take in the ever-changing sights and sounds around them.
If you’re looking for convenience…
You’ll probably want to opt for the treadmill. While you theoretically could head outside on any given day just like you could hop on the treadmill, running in inclement weather (extreme cold, rain, snow, extreme heat, etc.) isn’t all that convenient or advisable for that matter. Assuming you keep your home at an optimal temperature, the treadmill will offer a suitable running environment no matter what’s going on outside.
If you’re looking to work more muscles…
It doesn’t matter which option you choose because you use the same muscles running outside as you do running on the treadmill (providing you’re not holding onto it).
Both outdoor running and treadmill running have their pros and cons, and you’ll have to decide which regiment works with your lifestyle. Regardless of which option you choose though, as long as you get up and get moving, you’ll be sure to benefit.