If you work out a lot, you’ve probably wondered what’s better for you – your good old treadmill, or pulling on your jogging shoes and your tracksuit and going for a proper run outside. Or maybe you don’t even work out much, but you’ve recently decided that you should get into shape, and you’ve been wondering whether it’s worth investing in a treadmill for your evening workout sessions.
Some people actually already have some pretty strong opinions over which one they prefer! Some think a treadmill is a bit of a yawn, while others love having the controls of the treadmill so they have some structure to their workout. But there are pluses and minuses to each, really. Let’s look at them.
I mean, fresh air on a nice day is hard to resist, right? Especially if you live in a nice neighbourhood or if you have a really nice park to run in, it can be a really good, refreshing experience to get your workout gear on and go for a nice, long run.
You’re also not running in a straight pattern as you would on a treadmill, so you don’t have to automatically shorten your stride. You might also be burning more energy, because your feet have to grip the ground as you run. Whereas on a treadmill, the machine is doing some of the work for you. Also, running outside, you’ll naturally be using more muscles, because when you’re on a treadmill you won’t be required to dodge strangers or impending traffic. Your body adjusts to circumstances and often activates more muscles that way.
Also, if you’re a sociable runner, you might have trouble getting your friends on board with the treadmill…it’s a solo activity, unless you’re running in the gym. Running together is what many fitness freaks do, which is really out of the equation if you’re on a treadmill at home.
However, if you’re not accustomed to running outside, it can be a bit of a switch for you. Hitting the hard ground with your feet over and over can toughen up your bones over time, but can be a bit intimidating if you’ve just gotten home from work. If you’re a treadmill runner, you might not have the leg muscle strength required to suddenly switch to full-time outdoors running.
Honestly, treadmills can be a really good option when you’ve just gotten home from work and you just don’t have the energy to throw on a decent outfit and go for a run outside. Also, for women, it can be harder to justify if it’s getting dark and you don’t live in a very nice neighbourhood.
Many people don’t want to run in bad weather. If you live in a place where it rains a lot, a treadmill can be an alternative. You might not get the natural unevenness of the roads that will test your stamina, but you will have a pretty good, controlled environment. You’ll get used to running at a certain speed evenly, and you can adjust the controls of the treadmill to change the incline so it can be more challenging for you.
Also, if you don’t have that much free time to dedicate to working out, and you have a lot of other things you have to do, you can always catch up on your favourite shows or watch the news while running. You definitely can’t do that outside. It also gives you something to look forward to if you’re not normally too enthused about exercise.
Basically, treadmills can work very well if you’re not an expert runner who’s training for a race and you just want to get some regular exercise in. You can always slowly transition to running outside too.
There is no right answer to the treadmill vs running outside debate. Yes, nothing beats some good old Vitamin D and running outside can be good for your mental health, but it all depends on your circumstances.
If you’re something of a professional athlete, a regular run on the treadmill isn’t going to cut it. But if you just need some regular exercise, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a treadmill run. You can always change the incline or decline to make it harder for yourself. You have to pick what’s right for you, because no one else is going to do the runs.