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Treadmill vs Outdoor Running

Some runners (or walkers) crave the great outdoors while others like the simplicity of the treadmill. Is there really a big difference with running?  Is one better than the other?  There is no simple answer as there are pros and cons to each, a lot depends on your training goals. Let’s take a look at Treadmill vs Outdoor Running.

Treadmills – Pros

– easy to workout in bad weather or when it’s really hot / cold outside.

– women can find it safer.

– can stop anytime you want (without the big walk back to the start!).

– easy access to toilet and water.

– can watch TV or online whilst running.

– smooth cushioned surface can be easier on joints.

– can improve your mental toughness as you push through the monotony.

Treadmill image

Outdoor Running – Pros

– can run anywhere with little equipment.

– can enjoy changing seasons, nature and breathe fresh air.

– provides sport specific training for road racing or trail runners.

– can take new routes and see something new.

– more functional in simulating daily activities and activating a greater range of muscles.

– can be more challenging/motivational as you cannot just stop and get off.

– can exercise your dog while running, or run with groups.

Ladies Jogging

Running Outside

Running outside works your small stabiliser muscles in your lower legs due to the differing terrain. Your calf muscles and glutes also have to work much harder outside as they propel you forward with each step.  On the treadmill the moving belt generates this propulsion.  Runners that have trained only on a treadmill can experience pain in these muscles when they run outside, which can result in injury.

If you are training for an outdoor running event, it is important to complete some of your training outside.  This prepares your body for the real deal.  Your joints and muscles get used to the varied terrain and you learn what to wear for different weather conditions.  Most treadmills do not have a decline feature to simulate running downhill, and although you can vary the incline on a treadmill you cannot simulate turns and get your body used to this.

Treadmill Running

Running on a treadmill can provide a similar workout as running outside as long as the same level of effort is maintained.  A good way of judging this is based on your heart rate.

If you run the same pace on a treadmill as you do when running outside you will expend less energy.  This is due to a number of factors such as changes in running surface and terrain, wind resistance and the movement of the treadmill belt helps to propel you along.  Some studies have found that by raising the treadmill by at least one percent will better simulate the same energy required for running on the flat pavement outside.

If your training goal is to increase your cardiovascular fitness or log cardio exercise minutes then a treadmill is a very convenient piece of equipment to achieve this.  For some mum’s the easiness of being able to hop on the treadmill while their children are happily playing or sleeping cannot be overestimated.

Running has a large range of health and fitness benefits and whether you run on the road or the treadmill is largely dependent on what suits you and your needs.  Running on whichever surface your body enjoys the most, or daily life limitations allow, is the best option for you.  It means you are more likely to stick with it and reap the benefits.

Treadmill vs Outdoor Running; whichever you choose don’t forget to give your breasts the support they need.

Your in support.

Amy x

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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