Treadmill vs running outside - What's the difference

Treadmill vs. Running Outside – What’s the Difference?

I’m not going to tell you that running on a treadmill is a waste of time, that it’s useless, or that it’s something you should never do. Running on a treadmill definitely has its own advantages.

Apart from anything else, it allows you to train indoors, which means you can avoid going out in the rain and means you can avoid having to talk yourself into training on wet days. Better yet, this means that you can put on the TV or listen to music without sweaty headphones. And that makes running a lot less boring!

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But there are definitely downsides as well. Read on to find out the difference between treadmill vs. running outside and why you should reconsider making this your primary way of exercising.


The first thing to recognize is that running on a treadmill is not biomechanically identical to running outdoors. That is to say, that the way you exercise is different and this results in different results for your muscles.

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More specifically, the difference comes from the fact that the floor is moving underneath you. When you run on a treadmill, you are stay completely in spot and the objective is really just to be off the ground long enough to avoid moving backward.

This is different to running outdoors, where you are actively pulling yourself forward and reaching out for that next step. The real thing works more muscles in the legs, burning more calories, and also improving your technique (1).

Getting Outdoors

Then there’s the downside of being indoors. One of the best things about running outside is actually just… being outside. That’s because running outdoors means you’re getting fresh air (which is incredibly good for your lungs and your circulation) and it means that you’re getting sunlight. Sunlight means vitamin D, which means stronger bones and more testosterone!

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But then again…

If we really compare the benefits of treadmill vs. running outside, many shreds of evidence claimed similar results. However, the treadmill running may not be as good as running outdoors in many ways, they are not only useful for their convenience.

But don’t write treadmills off completely. One thing treadmills have going in their favor is that they force you to keep running at a set speed and let you set this very precisely.

You can’t slow down or inadvertently take it easy as you’re running because the treadmill sets the pace. This makes them ideal for running to a very specific goal and also very good for interval training and the like.

It is an important question many enthusiasts ask. There is no specific answer to it. Though, with certain conditions, whichever type suits you – must be continued. The key is to exercise or run. You can take the help of our past article which elaborates in-depth difference between Indoors vs. Outdoors workout.