Running Outside vs. On A Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Running either on a treadmill or outside is a great way to stay fit. It also enhances your brain health, lowers your blood pressure, and boosts your mood. This is why running is not for athletes alone – it’s suitable for everyone!  

Fitness enthusiasts have always wondered whether running on a treadmill is better compared to running outside. The one thing that everyone agrees with is – running on the treadmill is easier compared to running outside.

So should you run outdoors or on a treadmill?

Running Outside

Running outside ensures that you are more suited to your natural gait because you are the one who is regulating the pace. You can decide to run in short strides or long strides, with little to no thought or effort.

Running outdoors also is fun as it means that you can run in any direction you like; you can follow footpaths in a park while dodging people along the way, jump over curbs, and even engage in unexpected sprints with fellow outside runners. Here are more pros of running outside and some cons.


  • Fresh air and changing scenery
  • Running outdoors offers you a chance to enjoy fresh air and changes in scenery as you continue running. While on the run, you will experience changes such as overcoming the challenges of transitioning between even and uneven ground. There are also unlimited options when it comes to choices of the routes you can take when running.

  • Better balance and muscle activation
  • When running outside, you can expect to encounter many environmental differences. You will also be sure to encounter physical barriers such as hills, slopes, jumping over puddles, and dodging people, which will affect your pace and the exertion your muscles are experiencing. All of these barriers will help you improve your balance and activate other muscle groups.

  • No gym membership
  • Running outside is free. The only cost you can incur is just the cost of running shoes. This makes outside running desirable and easily accessible for people of all incomes.


  • High risks of injury
  • Research has shown that people who run outdoors have a high risk of developing injuries. The most common injuries include lower leg injury, foot injury, and ankle injuries.

  • It can be dangerous
  • People who run outside encounter many dangers, such as collisions with cyclists and cars and unexpected falls. If you like running outside, make sure that you wear appropriate clothing which can be reflective clothing and also wear a headlamp at night or at times of low visibility. It would help if you also told someone close to you the route you will take and the time you expect to get home.

  • Bad weather conditions
  • Running in extreme heat or cold increases the chances of you being dehydrated. This can be a serious issue if you are not wearing proper clothing. Bad weather conditions can also stop you from running all together as the path is simply too unsafe or the weather too severe.

    Running on a Treadmill

    Running on a treadmill is smoother compared to running outside. If you prefer structured workouts, then the treadmill is right for you as it provides you with an environment where you are in total control.

    Here are some of the pros and cons of running on a treadmill.


  • No weather constraints
  • Running on a treadmill ensures that you do not have to worry about the weather as you will be indoors. When running on a treadmill, you do not have to worry about wearing proper clothing or applying sunscreen.

  • You can replicate the conditions of a race
  • If you want to run uphill, you can effortlessly simulate those conditions on the treadmill, and it will work as if you are running uphill. If you are training for a marathon, you can plan the entire race on the treadmill, including setting the appropriate points, expected weather conditions, and even plan a try out for the actual race.

  • Set your pace
  • When running outside, it isn’t easy to maintain a consistent pace. However, when running on a treadmill, you can control the pace you want to run. This makes the treadmill desirable to people who are coming from recent injuries. You can also track your mileage and stop anytime you want.

  • Convenience
  • People who have treadmills at home have the luxury of running anytime they want. It does not matter whether it is day or night, and even weather cannot stop you from running. You can also run while at the same time watching your kids, so not even they can stop you!

  • Easy on the joints
  • The surface on which you run is smooth and cushioned. Therefore, it offers your joints a nice place to soften the shock which otherwise would have been absorbed by your joints. While running on pavement, all the shock is absorbed by the joints, leading to injuries. However, the treadmill ensures that there are less stress on your knees, ankles, and feet.


  • You can also be injured
  • While most people consider treadmills being safer, you can still get hurt. According to a CPSC report, there are more than 24,000 injuries resulting from running on a treadmill. The most common injuries include sprains and head injuries. Of course, your risk is significantly lower if you use your treadmill safely and appropriately.

  • You can only run linearly
  • When running on a treadmill, you cannot turn left or right. This limits your capability to improve your lateral agility.

  • It can be monotonous
  • While you can run on a treadmill listening to music or watching TV, the lack of scenery changes can make running on a treadmill for long period of time monotonous.

    Which One Is Better?

    You can’t go wrong with either, meaning the choice depends on the reasons why you are running. If you are a professional athlete recovering from an injury or enjoy running for fun and fitness, then the treadmill is the best option for you. With a pulse monitor, you can enjoy your run while at the same time monitoring your heart rate.

    If you are an athlete and want to train in anticipation of a race, the best option would be to run outside. You will get more muscle activation and will prepare your body for the race by using the race environment. Of course, you can always just do both! Having a simulation first before moving it outside.

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    Running Outside vs. On A Treadmill: Which Is Better?

    Running Outside vs. On A Treadmill: Which Is Better?

    Atypical Fitness Teams publish articles to guide you through your health fitness journey.

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