This or That

Treadmills vs Road Running

by Colin Butler
Vertex Education Ambassador, Fitness

Everyone knows that running is good for your health, but you may have heard that treadmills are better than outdoor running or vice versa. The truth is, they both work and both get you moving. There ARE a few differences though to consider for your personal lifestyle and preferences.

Below we break down the pros and cons. In the video that follows I break it all down for you!

Treadmills - PROSOutdoor Running - PROS
Believe it or not, treadmills are actually easier on your joints due to the shorter, quicker steps. (video: show stride/speed difference side by side)Running in fresh air and sunlight gives you a mental health boost and decreases tension, anger and depression
Treadmills are customizable. You can change the incline, train for speed or endurance, and sometimes they even have programmed workouts to choose from.You can burn more calories when outdoor running - you have to physically push yourself forward more, and regulate your body temperature.
Rain or shine, you can’t be stopped! You aren’t limited by weather or time of day.It can help build your muscles and bones as your body continually adjusts to navigate the outdoor environments, like cracks, uneven pavement, potholes, or branches.
It’s safer to wear headphones or multitask while you’re running on a treadmill.It’s inexpensive and you can keep training when you travel. All you need is your shoes and a road.
Treadmills - CONSOutdoor Running - CONS
You can lose agility running on a treadmill because you won’t encounter obstacles to avoid.You’ll need to be aware of hazards like potholes, cars, or other pedestrians so staying focused is important.
It can feel more boring without stimulation from the outdoors. Don’t forget, treadmills were originally created as punishment for prisoners and then BANNED for being too cruel.You may be limited to daylight hours as running at night may not always be the safest option.
You can’t run downhill which is needed to strengthen the anterior tibialis on the front of the leg.
Treadmills don’t translate well to running outside. You may be able to run a mile easily on a treadmill but struggle to run a mile outside. (To help fix this, you should increase the incline on a treadmill by 1% to compensate for the belt’s movement.)

When to Use Each?

Deciding whether to run on a treadmill or outside isn’t a strict one or the other choice. It’s all about what type of vibe you’re going for. If it’s a nice day outside, going outdoors is amazing and offers many benefits. But if you feel more comfortable indoors, then treadmill running is the way to go.

If your primary focus is on keeping up your heart health, a treadmill may give you everything you need. But if you’re getting ready for a race, you’ll get more out of running outside. It’s cool to mix in treadmill running to get your cardio up, but experts say you shouldn’t do it for more than 40% of your training.

Watch as Colin demonstrates the pros and cons of treadmills vs road running/walking.

Thanks to Our Education Ambassador Sponsor