Should You Walk On A Treadmill Or Outside?

Walking is a wonderful activity with many health benefits, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Engaging in the activity on a regular basis can help you lose weight, improve your bone density, strengthen your muscles, increase your cardiovascular capacity, eliminate stress, and fortify your immune system.

A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that a 30-minute walk five days a week can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 19%. If you're a creative person, you may also be pleased to learn that walking can boost your creativity, as per a 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Researchers found that participants were better able to come up with new ideas when walking as opposed to sitting still. 

In addition to increasing your creative juices, walking can also give you an overall mental boost. In a 2016 study published in Emotion, just 12 minutes of walking resulted in increased attentiveness, self-confidence, and mental vigor.

Whether you already make walking a part of your exercise routine or you are looking to get started on a regular regimen, you may be wondering if walking outside or inside on a treadmill is a better choice. Here's what we know.

The short answer is, it depends

The question of whether walking outdoors or on a treadmill is better is more complicated than it seems. Personal trainer Galina Denzel explored the question with Livestrong. In short, she says that one is not necessarily better than the other. Furthermore, there could be many reasons why walking on a treadmill vs. outdoors is better for one person compared to another.

While Denzel recognizes that walking outdoors has many benefits, including providing different types of terrain, fresh air, and natural landscapes, this might not be a viable option for certain people. Those who live in regions with extreme weather or who aren't able to leave their house due to childcare duties, for example, won't be able to take advantage of outdoor walking. In these cases, a treadmill will be the only way to reap the benefits of walking.

"You can see how fast you're going and how far you went, and you can see your heart rate — things that you normally can't see outside," Denzel told Livestrong, highlighting the benefits of treadmills. Furthermore, you can adjust the incline and pace of your walk based on your activity goals. That being said, some people may experience challenges when walking on a treadmill, such as knee alignment, flat feet, and back pain. If you have a tight budget, purchasing one may be out of the question entirely, in which case the great outdoors is your best bet.