Running on a Treadmill vs Outside Running

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

Are you curious if you should be running outside or keeping it inside on a treadmill? Or perhaps the weather in your city is simply getting too cold to feasibly continue running outside?

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know how each one affects the body and what the possible pros and cons may be for you. We’re here to take you through the ins and outs of each so you never have to wonder again!

The Differences

There are quite a few differences between running outside and running on a treadmill. One of the biggest, is the fact that on a treadmill you have a moving belt underneath you and you don’t have to deal with wind blowing against you as you run, making it theoretically easier to do so.

When you’re running outside, you have to push off and move your body forward through the wind resistance. This adds extra resistance, which definitely requires more energy to run the same distance, at the same speed.

However, if you’re worried the treadmill is too easy for you, it’s been shown that simply by moving your treadmill’s incline to a 1% grade, you’re essentially creating just as much resistance as you would get from the wind outside.

When Would a Treadmill Be Preferable?

Now that we know that it’s possible to get the same resistance from a home treadmill as outdoor running, what would make treadmills more desirable? Well, for one, when the weather is poor and you can’t or don’t want to run outside. “Bad weather” could mean something different for everyone.

For example, I cannot stand running in any weather under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s painful, I can’t enjoy myself, and I am counting down the time until I’m back inside. Some people can’t get a proper footing in wet weather, while others avoid running in the heat with a passion.

Even though you won’t be taking in that fresh air or getting your dose of Vitamin D, you’re still much better off on a treadmill than hurting yourself due to bad footing or being miserable running in poor weather.

Ideal Circumstances

Unless you have the perfect race course with the perfect weather every day, chances are you may just prefer a treadmill. A huge advantage that treadmills have over outdoor running is that you get to pick and choose your exact speed and incline. If you’re training for a particular course but don’t have an outdoor environment to emulate it, then a treadmill would be the perfect alternative.

Depending on the model of treadmill, you can even have it set to work with virtual worlds, where the incline and speed changes as the environment in the world does.

Drinking and Eating

If you’re someone who enjoys longer runs, then chances are you typically bring gels with you. If not gels, you definitely bring water! This can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t plan accordingly, as logistics may not always go as planned.

With a treadmill, you simply don’t have to worry about any of this. There will be water bottle holders and a place to put gels, so you can practice consuming them without having to augment your pace or gait at all.

When Would Running Outside Be Preferable?

At this point, it’s obvious that there are a ton of benefits to running or walking on treadmills – and we’ve only just covered the main points. However, if there were no benefits to running outdoors then you wouldn’t see people in running shorts hustling up the side of a road in the middle of winter!


If you’re solely running on a treadmill, you could actually see your long-term growth stunted. If you’re trying to find and keep pace on your own entirely, you’re going to have issues on treadmills. Treadmills just let you set your pace and kind of forget about it, which can help prevent you from growing your pacing instincts.

If you’re going to be racing, this is huge. You have to have a developed sense of pacing to finish in a solid time.

A More Exciting Run

The treadmill isn’t exactly an exciting time, and even if you have interactive worlds or decide to watch videos or TV shows while running on one, it simply doesn’t compare to many to the thrill of running outside in Mother Nature.

You get to experience different environments and really immerse yourself outside, take in fresh air, and so on. Not only that, but you get to actually experience running to the end of a route, which can evoke a special sense of accomplishment.

Which is Better?

There is no “better” between running on a treadmill and running outside. They both have their own positive points, and not-so-positives. It depends heavily on your preferences, and what type of runner you are. If you’re an experienced runner, you’ll probably find a lot of value in a treadmill as a training tool.

If you’re a casual runner who just wants to stay in shape or lose weight, then you’ll probably also love treadmills as you don’t have to run in front of anyone else and can increase your physical fitness without anyone else around.


So, have you decided which method of running is right for you? If we can offer our own opinion, we heavily recommend incorporating both. When weather gets intense or you want to simply stay inside and not deal with packing gels, getting dressed for the outdoors, etc., treadmills are a great option.

We hope that you now have a deeper understanding of where they can be incredibly helpful and convenient. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!


BestWomensWorkouts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. BestWomensWorkouts earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Shayanne Weeks

Shayanne is a freelance writer and personal trainer based in LA, California. Describing herself as a nomad, she has lived in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington as well as Guadalajara, Mexico. As an extremely active person, she loves to train people, teach yoga, and ski. She enjoys sharing her love for teaching others through her “how to” fitness guides and workout equipment reviews. Shayanne is addicted to surfing and yoga and practices both everyday.
Back to top button