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Are You Cheating Yourself by Choosing the Treadmill?

What's Better: the Treadmill or the Open Road?


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  • If I couldn't have my treadmill I would not find the opportunity to walk consistently 5x/week for several reasons. There will always be pros and cons to either, but for me this works and that is what is important.
  • Because of all the different pros and cons for each, I figured the comment section was going to be the best part of the article. For beginners, a treadmill can be a terrific option. As I have started participating in more races (and looking to keep up a running lifestyle into "old age") the treadmill no longer meets my needs. The mechanics of running are completely different (I'm using the ChiRunning technique), and cannot be done on the treadmill. I also find the elliptical machine is much easier on my joints than a treadmill (although it is no substitute for getting outside either). Plus, when you walk in your neighborhood, there ends up being the bonus of "ownership" and pride in how the environlment looks, and a better chance of meeting and knowing your neighbors.
  • I am an outdoors type of gal when it comes to consistent cardio. I love the freedom, sunshine, breeze, cool air; not so much wind or rain however! : ) That's when the convenience of a treadmill is handy. I don't own a treadmill; so need to make do when I can. They both have pros and cons for whatever reasons you have!

    Just keep moving!! : )
  • I'm not thrilled to see a "why the great outdoors beats your treadmill" article in the middle of miserable freezing winter and cold and flu season. Spring is too far away; don't taunt me, Sparkpeople!
  • Like most, I prefer the open road for my long or tempo runs, and probably even for speedwork. There is something to be said for using the treadmill for intervals though--you know exactly what pace you're running and it's easier for me to shift out of the times properly.

    I do find myself using the treadmill more during winter, not because of conditions outside (not a problem here) but Daylight Savings. I used to really hate it but now I just treat it like a different beast and try and take advantage of whatever bells and whistles (inclines, fans, monitors, television, Nike + iPod) the machine I'm using at the Y has.
    This is a great and comprehensive article. Thanks for sharing it.
  • The treadmill definitely has its advantages, but when it comes to fitness there is no comparison-- outdoor running wins hands-down. After three years of treadmill running for almost hour-long sessions, I couldn't run a half-hour outdoors.

    Another benefit of outdoor running is the social potential. Last year I joined a running group and it was very rewarding.
  • I'm an outdoor runner. I don't have room for a treadmill but I wouldn't own one even if I did. Many of us refer to it as a dreadmill. I just make sure that I run in an area that gets very little traffic. But yes, you do need to be careful when running outside during the winter.
  • After I started running on a treadmill, my knees gave out - the doctor who finally was able to explain it told me that there were a few factors: 1) I'm a woman - which means that my hips are wider than my knees; 2) I'm at the age when my ligaments are not as resilient as they used to be; 3) with a treadmill, the mechanics are different than on the road (or track) - when we walk/run, our body pretty much goes with our feet. When we walk/run on a treadmill, we put our feet out in front of our body, and it gets moved back to us by the machine - which means that with the treadmill, our foot arch gets pulled down more than when we normally walk/run - which in turn pulls on the ligaments in the leg, and because of the angle from the knee to my hip, this put an abnormal strain on my knees, and I now cannot use the treadmill (and some other things as well). So - telling people that if they have bad knees they should use a treadmill is not a good thing - tell them to go to a good sports doctor first and get their recommendation.
  • I like more outdoor walking coz it makes me feel attached to the nature while enjoying the fun of doing it with friends around. Likewise ,, it serves as a good opportunity for meeting people from all walks of life.. and that includes having to meet people from the business world too... So ALL in One... hehehe
  • I HATE treadmills!! In the past I have owned two of them and gave one of them away and sold the other one. My steps are uneven and I could never get a comfortable walking gait on the treadmill. I was unable to go as far on the treadmill as I do outside, so I do most of my walking outside. I have some of Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home DVDs which I use to "walk" inside when the weather isn't condusive to being outside.
    The treadmill beats outdoors every time for me because I can read while I walk. I just prop up whatever I want to catch up on -- The Economist, one of those classics I always meant to get around to, fat airport novel, you name it -- and walk. I feel like I'm doing two things I need to be doing in half the time it might normally take.
    I use the treadmill and I walk outside when I can. I have health concerns and when the weather doesn't permit I use my treadmill and my stationary bicycle! I cannot run and just walk. I usuallu try for 4 times a week.
  • i would rather be outside any time, i hate the treadmill with a passion...i feel like im being punished, as where, when im outside, i get to enjoy the sun or the cool breeze, i feel like im doing something healthy and good for me
  • I have a treadmill, but I can run a lot farther outside. I can set myself mini-goals (one more lamppost, two more driveways). I have less motivation when it comes to sticking with the treadmill--sometimes the minutes seem to drag by. But, I just moved across country and don't have a good running route figured out without driving somewhere first. It's hot here, so I'd have to do that bright and early! I miss jogging around my neighborhood, but the treadmill serves its purpose.

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