Running on a treadmill and running outside are two different experiences. Running on a treadmill is often seen as being easier because you are not fighting against the elements, such as wind or hills. However, running outside can give you a better workout because you are using more muscles to fight against the elements.

So, Running on treadmill vs outside, Which one is the best choice?

Let’s dive into this blog post to get more valuable information.

Running On A Treadmill

Running On A Treadmill

A treadmill is an exercise device with a rotating belt that you can control and move. You can find treadmills in many gyms, as well as online.


A treadmill’s most significant advantage is its accessibility. You can use most treadmills indoors at any time of the day and weather. Running can be made easier for people who live in areas with changing weather or exercise at night.

Many treadmill runners enjoy the many functions that a treadmill offers, including precise control over their pace, incline and intervals.

It is also beneficial for people returning from injuries since they can move slowly on the treadmill in a controlled environment.

Running outside, for example, may increase the risk of an ankle injury. This is due to factors such as uneven ground or slippery sidewalks.

Running on a treadmill is better for your joints, as most treadmills have cushioned belts that absorb some of the impacts. Hard ground, particularly sidewalks and roads, won’t.

Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that running does not cause joint or knee damage.


Indoor treadmill running is different from outdoor running. Instead of being surrounded by beautiful greenery and forests, you must stay in the same place where the treadmill is located. This can lead to boredom.

Modern treadmills have screens that simulate running outdoors, making it more enjoyable. However, this treadmill will not live up to outdoor running.

One study also shows contradictory results regarding muscle activity while running on a treadmill compared with outdoor running. While some studies show lower treadmill muscle activity, others find no difference. The treadmill belt pushing you forward may make it easier to keep your feet moving.

Due to the limitations of the treadmill’s parameters, many runners report a slower and less natural stride when running on the treadmill. This is, however, controversial. 2020 research found no difference in gait stride between outdoor and treadmill running.

The biggest drawback to treadmill running is its high cost. You can use a treadmill at your gym for as low as $10 per month. However, the cost of purchasing a treadmill on your own can run into hundreds or thousands.

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Outside Running

Outside Running

Running outdoors means running on a path, sidewalk, trail or another outdoor terrain.


Outdoor running is more fun than treadmill running for various scenery, challenges on uneven ground and endless options for routes.

The variety of options can help increase motivation to exercise.

Both outdoor and treadmill running has health benefits such as lower blood pressure and greater endurance. Outdoor running can also bring you more connection to the natural world.

A 2016 study showed that time spent in nature, such as parks or forests, can reduce depression rates by 7% and high blood pressure by 9.9%, respectively.

Outdoor running is a great way to strengthen your balance and activate other muscles. You might need to avoid other runners, jump over puddles or run up hills.

Research has shown that running outside can result in more muscular bones as you run on more complex surfaces. This increases the gravitational force and stresses the bones, which is crucial for bone metabolism.

Outdoor running is free if you don’t pay for running shoes or workout gear. Running is now more affordable for all income levels.


It is best to exercise outdoors in moderately dry temperatures. It’s safer and less risky to run outdoors in the rain, snow and extreme cold or hot temperatures. You can still run outside in all weather conditions if you have the proper clothing, training and preparation.

Running in extreme heat or cold can also increase your chance of becoming dehydrated. If you don’t have the suitable clothing or rehydrate, this can lead to serious health problems.

Running at night can increase the chance of injury and be dangerous.

To help you see at night:

  • Wear reflective clothing and a flashlight if you plan to run.
  • Share with a friend the route you plan to take and when you will expect to be home.
  • Find a running buddy.

Running On Treadmill Vs Outside – What’s The Difference?

Running On Treadmill Vs Outside - What's The Difference?

Running outside or on a treadmill is a different experience. Treadmills can be used indoors, so it is easy to exercise in any weather. Some people prefer to run outside, but the lack of scenery and terrain changes can make it boring.

Treadmills let you control every aspect of your run, from the speed and incline to intervals and intervals. This is great for people recovering from injuries who need to run in a controlled environment.

The modern treadmill belts can absorb some of your footfalls and protect your joints. These are great benefits, but treadmills can come at a high price.

Running outside allows you to enjoy the outdoors and explore your surroundings. Frontiers in Psychology reports that this can have significant benefits for people suffering from depression and anxiety. Concrete and hard ground are two familiar terrains that outdoor runners will encounter.

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The Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation says this could lead to stronger bones. Running outside can present challenges due to weather conditions, terrains and inclines. This can lead to injury if you deal with uneven or wet ground.

Running outdoors costs less than running indoors since there’s no equipment or gym to rent.


After you have decided to run regularly, it is time to invest your money. Which is more cost-effective: running on the treadmill or running outside? Standard costs for both running types include:

  • Fitness clothing
  • Durable and supportive trainers
  • Safety gear, i.e., head torch, reflective jacket or strips

You can also purchase accessories like:

  • Body weights, i.e., Weights at the wrist and ankle
  • A subscription to a music or fitness platform

You may have to account for certain costs depending on where you live when using a treadmill. You should also consider the cost of joining a gym membership. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, this averages out to $58.

Depending on where you live, the price of membership can rise to more than $100. If you live farther than the nearest gym, fuel or travel costs could be an issue.

It is also important to honestly consider whether you will use your gym membership regularly. A treadmill can be an option if you don’t want to use your gym membership. However, this will likely cost you between $100-$4,000.

Running outside is the most cost-effective option for running on a treadmill. However, prices and preferences may vary. You decide which option is best for you.

Weight Loss

You need to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit. Each day, you must burn more calories than you consume. According to Dr. Javier Gonzalez of Bath University’s Department of Health, weight management is about energy balance. We must eat fewer calories than we burn through resting metabolism and exercise to lose weight.

Harvard Health Publishing estimates that running regularly can help you lose more calories and create a 500-calorie deficit. Running on a treadmill or outside is the best way to lose weight.

Experts don’t believe that treadmill running is more effective than running outdoors for weight loss. No matter which option you choose, the National Library of Medicine recommends that aerobic exercise is an excellent way to burn calories and help you achieve your goals.

The American Council on Exercise found that the speed at which you run and the type you do of running directly impact the calories burned. Journal of Diabetes Research reports that high-intensity interval running can be an efficient and effective way to lose weight.

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HIIT is a fast running technique that involves sprinting for between 15 and 60 seconds, followed by walking or running simultaneously. Repeat this for 5 to 20 minutes.

You can do everything on the treadmill, including walking, jogging and steady-state running. Treadmills are not inclined, so it isn’t easy to simulate cross-country running or terrain on a treadmill.

Impact on Knees

Running is a repetitive, load-bearing activity. Many people who start running regularly may be concerned about their knees and joints. Running can cause damage to your joints, even though proper shoes may help reduce the impact of your foot strike.

Research has shown that runners tend to have shorter strides and a faster overall pace when running on a treadmill than outside. Sports Health’s 2014 study found that this could negatively impact your hips, knees, ankles, and knees.

Modern treadmills have belts that absorb our footstrike and provide cushioning. A 2017 study by the Osteoarthritis Institute examining the exercise habits of more than 2,500 people found that running may reduce the likelihood of experiencing frequent knee pain.

You can minimize the damage caused by running on your knees if you’re still worried about it.

  • Knee exercises (such as the ones from the NHS) to strengthen their muscles
  • Make sure you have the right shoes
  • Maintain a proper running posture
  • Wear knee straps
  • Use shorter strides
  • Reduce bounce while running

Making the Right Choice

A treadmill might be the best option if your sole purpose is to reach and maintain your cardiovascular fitness goals. A treadmill can be paired with a pulse monitor to help you push yourself properly while staying within your maximum heart rate (MHR).

Running outside will be more beneficial when you are training for a race. Although treadmill running can be beneficial for your cardio health, experts recommend that it not exceed 40% of your total training.

Whatever your fitness goals may be, it doesn’t matter where you run. You’re more likely than not to stick with a routine if you prefer running indoors to outdoors.

You don’t need to make a decision between running on a treadmill or outside. Get moving! You may find that a combination of both can work for you. If it’s feasible and works with your schedule, you will reap the benefits.

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