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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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  • I love running outdoors, but have to stick with the treadmill at the moment because it's less impact on my [healed but still bothers me when I run outside] ankle. Outside, I run on a bike path but it's still more jarring to my ankle than the treadmill. That being said, I don't hate the treadmill like a lot of other people do... I don't watch TV or anything while doing it, I just vary my speed & incline and focus on how my body's responding.

    Still, I miss running outdoors. But I get out on my bike almost every day to get my fill of fresh air and scenery!
  • so far I find that running both in and outdoors is best, it keeps me from getting bored. When I run in a gym I am also strength training, outdoors my kids are riding their bikes to keep up and we have a blast together.
    Interesting article, and in an ideal world, outdoor running/walking would be preferable to using a treadmill indoors. However, I have severe allergies, so that limits my outdoor time in certain seasons and when it's windy. Ironically, I live in an area with mild winters so cold weather is not a detriment to outdoor workouts.

    Another consideration is pollution - from cars, factories, construction activity. It can be healthier to exercise indoors for some of us.

    Also, I live in a semi-rural area where there are no sidewalks, making running a dangerous activity. The roads have no shoulders and there are many have blind curves. I'd be crazy to run in this environment, because I'm not always visible to the oncoming traffic. Not to mention wild animals like coyotes, skunks, and bears - oh my!

    So, I'll stick to the treamill at the gym - and not feel guilty about it. At least at the gym I have several different types of equipment to choose from to vary my workout - treadmill, elliptical machines, weight machines, bikes, rowers, and free weights - and an indoor pool. So, I get a great workout.
  • MARTY32M
    I understand the pros and cons but for me there's one factor that wasn't mentioned. I never could run very far without getting tired and having to slow down to a walk. Outdoors I can break into a run and if I get tired I can just slow down to whatever pace feels OK. On a treadmill I have to set a pace to start running and if I get tired I can't slow down until I set a lower pace. That means I can challenge myself to run outdoors, but I don't feel safe challenging myself to a run on a treadmill.
  • I can really understand the (sometimes) appeal of "real" running/walking as opposed to the treadmill, BUT I have to contend with either dog you know what or slippery streets I would rather put up with a stuffy treadmill / bike room. But just barely. Maybe if I had a bigger place I could put the treadmill in my garage!!!
  • Ah, if only running outside WERE actually free...!

    The pounding of outdoor running makes really good protective gear pretty important.

    I really prefer outdoor activities in general. After a lot of outdoor biking, and indoor cardio, I'm now ready to give outdoor running a whirl. I even priced it out (really high quality, well-fitted running shoes that wil last 4-6 mos, and sports bras for higher impact activity - expensive for busty women). I realized I'll need about $500 worth of stuff to give outdoor running a go.

    So, for now, I am sticking with indoor, lower impact cardio equipment (Arc Trainers, Cross Trainers and the like) at my blessedly cheap gym, until I can acquire that new gear!
  • Great article. This really covers the pros and cons of each. I'm clearly in the outdoor running camp. I don't own, nor do I have the room for, a treadmill, lovingly referred to as a dreadmill. I DO NOT wear an MP3 player as I really enjoy the experience of running outside. An MP3 player would be an interference plus a person can't hear cars and other sounds as well when wearing a headset. But if I were to run on a treadmill I would definitely want to be either listening to music or watching a monitor of some sort.

    But a treadmill allows you to run when the weather is bad outside. And it allows people to workout without leaving home if they are unable to.

    So, really, it's a personal choice. Great article Spark People.
  • for me, there is another huge factor not listed here - going outside is FREE
  • I haven't read all of the comments, so this might be repetitive...

    The number one reason I exercise indoors is because of have small children. Among the many reasons it is not feasible is that I do not get the kind of exercise I need when my kids are with me. Articles that do not address real world situations we find ourselves really miss the point.
  • I was raised in So. Calif and I used to jog and ran 10 -15 miles a week by the becah where I lived. Cardio was just about 20% of my workout routine. Now I moved to the Pacific Northwest and the almost year long extreme cold and wet weather just wouldn't allow me to run outside. I got my first cold and fever in more than ten years last time I ran outside. So I started to use the treadmill in my gym regularly where I hardly used it before. I discovered that I couldn't run as fast or as far in the treadmill, otherwise I would feel pain in my knee. The more than 3% incline would induced pain in my ankle. My personal opinion was that the treadmill was made for walking and not for serious running. Most serious people would rather walk or run outside if they had a choice. Of course I couldn't understand why people would read on any cardio machine. I used to tell my ex that if she could read, she was going too slow to do any good, or made any forward progress.
  • The last time I ran outside, it got to be nine million degrees before I knew what was going on, and my car was broken into. Treadmill = no dangerous people/dogs + AC + plentiful water supply. :) I'm not an outdoor-running hater--just not for me!
  • For me the treadmill is great. No excuses! I am not into running, but I do walk fast on the treadmill. When the weather is comfortable enough for me walk outside, then my allergies are made worse by everything blooming! So, for me, using the treadmill has more advantages.
  • Anyone else see the new Google Maps treadmill? I'm generally a fan of outdoor running, but I'd love to get my hands on one of those treadmills!
  • Shadowpup, thanks for sharing that info..I didn't even know that existed and my husband had to rig something up for me to act as a desk on my treadmill! Great info!!
  • For me it's just simple practicality that I run on a treadmill and walk outdoors. Two reasons: When I'm outdoors, I want a leisurely stroll to take in my surroundings and enjoy them. I ran outdoors yesterday for my second day on the c25k program and when I finished I had knee pain I had never felt before, I was extremely nauseated and dizzy. I also have pronation problems due to flat feet. If there is one thing I've learned from years of exercise, it's not to overextend yourself! I think the gist of this article was that outdoor running is better than treadmill running and I don't think that's a fair impression. All of us are of different ages, different skill levels, and have different body types that all play a part in what works best for us individually. While I would much rather be outdoors instead of running in a stuffy room, it's what works for me and helps me not only stick w/the program, but helps me complete my run. I'll stick w/my treadmill!!

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