Is Treadmill Running Really as Effective as Running Outside?

The debate on treadmill vs outdoor running is a very old one.

Running outside helps in improving your stability by forcing you to adapt to changing terrain. Whereas, running on the treadmill enables you to adapt to speed and performance that isn’t possible in the outside conditions.

Running on a Treadmill vs Running Outside for Weight Loss

Both the methods have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

So, in this article, let us discuss both the pros and cons of running on treadmill vs outside with easy to understand examples.

Running on a Treadmill

Treadmills are one of the most popular cardiovascular exercise equipment for both home and gyms.

Treadmill Care and Maintenance

The number of people who purchase a treadmill for home is also increasing with each year, mainly because of increasing obesity rates in India.

Pros of Treadmill Running

1.No Worries about Weather or Temperature

The biggest advantage of having a treadmill is to not worry about irregular climatic conditions.

Say for example, it is snowing or raining outside. Can you step out with your sweatshirt or rain coat and start running? Not possible, isn’t it?

Well, that is where the motorised treadmills come handy.

No matter, whether it is cold, hot or raining outside, you don’t have to skip your jogging or running sessions.

Moreover, you can just wear your running shoes and start running on the treadmill.

2.Control Your Pace

When it comes to outdoor running, you can’t maintain a consistent pace.

Fortunately, you can do so on a treadmill. It is good, especially if you’re returning from an injury.

You can control your pace, track your mileage and stop whenever you wanted.

3.Simulate Race Conditions

Are you training for a hilly marathon? You can then simply raise the incline to mimic hilly terrain.

This is not possible when you run outside. You’ll need to spend hours going to the nearest hilly area to get trained.


The latest treadmill machines come with mp3 players and support for using Android or iOS tablets for entertainment.

You can listen to music or podcasts without any disturbance or worrying about hitting someone while running.

You can also read your favorite magazine which is not possible when you run or walk outside.

5.Easier on Joints

Most treadmill brands provide smooth, cushioned surface with better shock absorption when compared to the pavement.

So, the surface is less stressful on your knees and ankles, thereby reducing any risk of joint pains.


You can run or walk on your home treadmill on your own time, even in bad weather, during late nights, or when your children are sleeping.

7.No Partner Required

Unlike the outside running, you don’t have to worry about having a partner.

You can simply set a time and listen to your favorite music while running indoors.

Cons of Treadmill Running

1.Chances of Getting Hurt

Though it is unlikely to get hurt if use your treadmill properly, there are some cases where people run too fast or pushed too hard and get injured.

Say for example, if you run too fast beyond your limits, you’ll surely fall after running for sometime as you can’t keep up with the pace continuously.

Likewise, if you put too much pressure on your foot while running, it will strain your joints and can cause injuries.

2.No Downhill Option

Downhill incline is a feature that helps in strengthening the anterior tibialis muscles at the front of your legs.

Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available on most treadmills.

3.Sometimes Boring

Running alone for long periods, even with your favorite music or TV shows, can be tedious and boring.

Also find the comparison of Treadmill vs Elliptical vs Cycle.

Running Outside

If you’re a runner or an athlete, you’ll know the benefits of running outside, especially on a track, trail or pavement.

Benefits of Running Outdoors for Weight Loss

Pros of Outdoor Running

1.No Expensive Gym Membership

It requires no fee to run outside on the pavement, whereas you’ll need to subscribe for a gym membership or buy a treadmill, both require you to spend some money.

Even if you had a gym membership, there is no guarantee that you’ll get the treadmill all the time as there will always be other people waiting in line for the machine.

2.Can be done even while Traveling

Even though you travel a lot, there is no need to skip your training.

You can simply ask the hotel staff to suggest the nearby routes that are good for running. It is also a great way to check out the new place you’ll be staying for the next few days.

3.Adapt to Changes in Weather and Terrains

This is good especially if you’re training for a sport-specific marathon or road races.

Your body, muscles and joints will get used to the varied terrain and help you get accustomed to multiple weather conditions as well.

4.Enjoy Nature and Breathe Fresh Air

You can enjoy the beautiful nature, birds and trees when you train outside.

If you’re living in a remote place, there is also more chances to breathe fresh and clean air, which is not possible if you train indoors.

5.Burns more calories

If you don’t know already, you’ll have to work harder to keep up with your pace depending on the wind resistance outside and hence will burn more calories in less time, when compared to treadmill running.

Cons of Outdoor Running

1.Changing climatic conditions

As we’ve already discussed, the climate outside will change more often and sometimes it is not even possible to go outside, leave aside running or training.

This is one of the major drawbacks when it comes to going out for running or exercising.

2.Not convenient for all

Getting up early in the morning isn’t for all as some people work late nights and wake up late. And, going for outside jog or run at noon is not considered by many.

And, when you have a treadmill at home, you can workout anytime you like or wake up.

3.Can sometimes be dangerous

If you’re running in crowded places or city conditions, then there are more chances of getting injured due to cars, cyclists, dogs and other attackers.

Conclusion: Treadmill vs Outdoor Running, Which is Better?

Now, since you know the pros and cons of running on a treadmill vs outside, the answer is very simple and straightforward.

If you main priority is to train for an event or marathon, then running outside is clearly better as it helps in sport-specific training.

Whereas, if your main priority is to improve your fitness goals like lose weight or improve your cardiovascular health, then you’ll find the treadmill more beneficial. You can pair your treadmill HIIT exercises with a heart rate monitor and burn more calories in less time by keeping up with your MHR (maximum heart rate zones)

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