Running On A Treadmill Vs. Running Outside: Which One Is Better For You?

If you're a runner, you're probably pretty serious about getting the most out of every run you do, which is exactly why you need to understand the difference between running on a treadmill and running outside. Are the benefits different? Is one better for you than the other? Here we break down the differences to ensure you're not wasting any time or energy that could be better spent.

Fitness-wise, running outside or on a treadmill are basically the same — the benefits are attached to how fast you're running (via Shape). In other words, the faster you run, the better. But on a treadmill, you have far more control."Treadmill training provides a completely controlled environment," Selena Samuela, a Peloton Tread Instructor, told Runner's World. "You can accurately control the pace, incline, interval, and recovery," she continued, adding, "For example, getting used to running at certain speeds because you're forced to is much easier to do while there's a belt moving under your feet."

Running on a treadmill can be more mentally challenging

On a treadmill, you're also training your body to run on the same terrain. As Rondel King, an exercise physiologist at the NYU Langone Health Sports Performance Center told Runner's World, "Running on a stiffer surface like asphalt or concrete is going to provide more ground reaction forces, which can definitely reinforce your bones a little more than a treadmill." He continued, "You're getting more muscle activation outside because your feet have to grab the ground to propel you," adding, "A treadmill does some of that work for you by feeding the belt to you."

That doesn't mean it's easier to run on a treadmill, however. According to Elizabeth Corky, RRCA-certified running coach, "Treadmills are mentally a thousand times more challenging to handle than running outside." Speaking to mindbodygreen, she explained that you don't have the same change of scenery and weather conditions as you do when running outside, meaning running on a treadmill can become pretty boring, pretty fast.

Ultimately, where you run is simply a matter of personal preference — when it comes to improving your health, any run is better than no run.