There has long been a debate about whether running outside is better for you than pounding away on the treadmill at the Gym.
The truth is, they both have their advantages and disadvantages and people will always have their preference or opinion.
- The belt on the treadmill will assist with leg speed, usually meaning you can run faster than outdoors – use the treadmill for speed interval sessions, meaning you’ll get a bit more bang for your buck than a constant pace workout.
- You don’t have to encounter the Great British weather with a treadmill session! It can be so disheartening to go out for a run, to be blown about by gust of wind and not feel the full benefit for the amount of effort and energy you’ve expended. Also, running when it’s slippy or icy can be quite dangerous – if the weather is awful, stick to indoors where you can.
- You don’t get the soft tissue ‘conditioning’ from a treadmill, as the belt will have a bit of ‘give’ built in, that you won’t get on a pavement. People have long talked about the negative impact of the repetitive striking of the foot onto the pavement, and this can be true for people with arthritis or lower back pain, but it can increase the bone density of the lower legs.
- You don’t get a difference in terrain with a treadmill. The run will always be on a smooth surface, without the risk of tripping over a tree stump or twisting your ankle on a rogue stone.
- What goes up, must come down! When you run outside you get the bonus of the downhill run to help you recover from the uphill bit you’ve just had to endure. Yes, you can set an incline on a treadmill but you can’t go downhill – yet!
- Both are a great workout for your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and abs – if you add in an incline then you’re putting more emphasis on your glutes, calves and hamstrings.
- Some people hate using treadmills because they feel like a hamster in a wheel, others hate running outside because they feel uncomfortable and prefer the Gym environment.
If I’m doing a Gym session, I’ll do everything but the treadmill. Not that I prefer running outside, but mainly for the variety in my workouts.
As I said, everyone has their opinion on which one is best or which they prefer but both have their benefits and both will help to increase your cardiovascular fitness, reduce your blood pressure and help increase the levels of feel-good hormones which are released when you exercise.