11 Sep 2020

Using a Treadmill vs Running Outside

/Cardio is one of the best ways to improve your fitness and overall health, but is running on a treadmill the same as running outside? Is it just a matter of personal preference? Or is one option actually superior to the other?

Although both options are effective forms of exercise and will help you reach your fitness goals, trying to determine where your running will be most effective can be confusing.

The question of “is it better to run outside or on a treadmill?” has been around for decades. If you’re not sure whether to pound the pavement or do your cardio indoors, we’ll explore the treadmill vs. outdoors running debate in this article so you can make the best decision for your fitness needs.

Environmental Factors


When weighing up the benefits of running on a treadmill, consider the weather and its potential impact on your motivation and safety. If you live somewhere that’s prone to cold, windy or rainy weather conditions, doing your cardio on a treadmill may often be the safest option. The same principle applies if you live in a warmer than average climate, as running in extreme heat can also be dangerous.

Treadmill training offers total control over your environment, so you won’t have to work up the willpower needed to exercise in less than ideal weather conditions. Of course, many people enjoy running because it gives them a chance to spend time outdoors. If being surrounded by nature is your favourite aspect of running and you don’t mind a bit of bad weather, there’s nothing wrong with swapping your treadmill for the pavement.

Fitness Level


Your fitness level can help determine whether you’re better suited to treadmill vs outdoor running. If you’re an experienced runner, you may enjoy the unpredictability that comes with running through a park or around your neighbourhood. Your knees and ankles will be better equipped for the twists and turns of an outdoor trail and your feet will be more accustomed to the impact of running on concrete.

If you’re just starting out on the other hand, running on a treadmill might make it easier to build your fitness gradually. You can adjust the speed and incline level of your treadmill to suit your needs, and if you get tired you can simply hop off the machine rather than facing a long walk home.

That’s not to say that running on a treadmill isn’t suited people with advanced cardio fitness. It’s still possible to get a great workout on a treadmill by turning up the speed and incline.

Personal Safety


If you only have time to run in the evenings but are reluctant to venture outside after dark, treadmill training allows you to exercise in the comfort and safety of your own home. Even if you exercise in a safe, well-lit area, it’s understandable that you may feel a little nervous being outdoors at night-time (especially if you don’t have an exercise buddy and must go it alone).  

By choosing to run on a treadmill vs running outside, you won’t have to constantly look over your shoulder and can enjoy the benefits of cardio without putting your personal safety at risk.

If you’re still not sure whether it’s better to run outdoors or on a treadmill, the truth is there’s no right or wrong answer. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether the benefits of running on a treadmill outweigh the advantages of outdoor cardio.

For more expert tips on cardio exercise, check our tips on How to Avoid Shin Splints While Walking or find out more fitness and exercise advice on our blog.

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