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Treadmill vs Outdoor running

"Runs end, Running doesn't" - Nike

Treadmill running vs Outdoor running: Sounds like a debate we've either heard or been involved in before. Certainly both are worthy "heart-healthy" exercises that are tremendously beneficial to the muscles and the body as a whole.
They are in fact the same kind of activity in different settings! But yea ,there's more!

People will tell you that running outdoors improves stability by forcing you to navigate ever-changing terrains while others will claim that a treadmill forces you to sustain speed and performance levels that might other lag outdoors.

Ultimately, both settings surely have their pros and cons based on the training needs and goals of the individual.


If you can enjoy a good run and multitask while at it, why not? 
Treadmill running does provide a good an effective avenue to exercise and maximize your indoor workout time.
The same way the airport escalators propel you, the treadmill probably propels your running in a manner that is different from how you propel yourself when running outdoors.

While some may look down on treadmill running as a second class form of running, it definitely can help runners get the best of their time, when weather or environmental conditions don't permit.

Treadmill running has many advantages.

Advantages of Treadmill running

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of cardiovascular equipment in gyms all over the world these days.While treadmills are considered the safer option for running exercises by most users, large numbers of treadmill-related injuries running into thousands are reported yearly. Injuries in form of sprains, falls, head injuries, and even cardiovascular events in people who might have pushed too hard are among the most commonly reported.

Outdoor Running

There really is something special about lacing up your trainers and heading into the Great Outdoors (sense the bias?). There is certainly a physiologic difference between both exercises. Some experts believe that by running outdoors, you are stimulating the muscles in your feet and legs in a different way, getting a more well-rounded workout for your legs and ankles actually. Outdoor running also allows you engage different muscles groups by running downhill and uphill which most treadmills don't allow to.

While elite athletes will use a treadmill as part of their training routine, they will do the majority of their running outdoors on tracks, trails, or pavement. 

Which do you benefit the most from?

Basically the amount of effort you apply determines how much you get from a running workout or most workouts for that matter. You can get the same workout whether running on a treadmill or outside as long as you maintain the same effort level. But "effort," in and of itself, is a highly variable measure.

Medically speaking, effort is based on your heart rate and a phenomenon known as perceived exertion. Perceived exertion refers specifically to how "hard" you consider an activity to be, irrespective of how your body responds to that activity.

For example, the perceived exertion of running indoors will generally be less than running outdoors on a rainy day even if you burn more calories or have a faster heart rate. Even on a sunny day, the very act of running up a hill may be perceived to be "harder" than running at the same incline and distance on a treadmill.

The harder we perceive a workout to be, the sooner we tend to give up.This psychological component tends to influence how much we get out of one exercise compared to the next.

Our Verdict

So it all depends on what you intend to gain from running. If your sole intention is to meet and maintain your cardiovascular fitness goals, then a treadmill should suffice. 

On the other hand, if you are training for a race you will clearly benefit more from running outside, and you may incorporate treadmill running to train your endurance and improve your cardio health.

And it may just be down to which environment you prefer!

Medic-ALL 2018

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