Treadmill VS Outdoor Running

“When it comes to cardio, I say choose whatever form that is most likely to get you off of your butt and move!”

Running is running right? Not exactly. I constantly get asked the question, “Which is better; running on a treadmill or outside?” The answer is simple; both can be beneficial. Here are the pros and cons to both running on a treadmill and running outside.

Treadmill Running


Snow, sunshine, rain or wind, you can run on treadmill without worrying about the weather. I know a lot of individuals who will shut down any chance of going outside for a run if the weather is less than optimal. Unfortunately for us, the weather will not always participate when is comes to our needs and wants.

Treadmills also offer convince. It is much easier to go down to your basement and jump on the treadmill rather than going to an area that offers enough room to run around. A treadmill allows you to pause a run to go get water, use the bathroom, check on the kids, etc.

Treadmills also offer programmed workouts. Say you want to do “hill” training but do not live close to an area that offers the changes in terrain you desire. You can simple push the “hills” setting on the machine and inst-o-facto , you have your “hills.”


Running on a treadmill does not allow for your body to truly interact with the outside world. The sun on your skin or the wind in your hair cannot be acquired when running on a treadmill.

The biggest con to running on a treadmill is its affect on the central nervous system (CNS). When you run on a treadmill, your body is “moving forward” but the world around is not. This means that physical output, does not match the visual input. The can make it difficult to perform different skills such as running when it is performed outside.

With a treadmill comes a lack of control of speed. Sure you can turn down the pace with a push of a button but most often you have to go the speed in which the machine is moving. This could become dangerous if you’re tired and are trying to keep up with the treadmill belt speed.

Outside Running


Like I said above, when your run on a treadmill, you do not get to experience the benefits of being outside. The sun is one of the best sources of Vitamin D. Also know as the “sunshine vitamin” Vitamin D can help maintain healthy bones and teeth, support a healthy immune system and brain, regulate insulin levels, and support lung function and cardiovascular health. A little bit of sunshine can go along way and running inside simple does not offer these benefits.

Outside running also offers CNS enhancement. When you run outside, the world around you will move along with you. When reaching for final destination, point B will look a lot different than point A. This tells the body that when moving, the world moves as well, and it can aide in coordinating your body as your move.

The constant change in terrain can also be beneficial. This requires the body to react and adapt to what’s being thrown at it. When your body can accurately adapt to changes in terrain, the risk of injury can be lowered.


Weather can be one of the biggest downers when it comes to running outside. My least favorite try of weather to run in is wind. Not rain or snow but wind can make my run less than enjoyable. This also can kill individuals motivation to run if weather is less than perfect.

While I said that changes in terrain is a positive, it can also serve as a negative. Tripping on a rock, stepping off of a curb wrong or even getting caught on tall grass could send you toppling over can potentially result in injury. Long story short, there is more to pay attention to.

Personal Opinion

I personally prefer to run outside. As I listed above the sunshine on my skin, change of the terrain and accomplishment of moving from point A to point B are far more appealing of just running in place. But when it comes to most individuals, I say do whatever version that is most likely to get you off your butt and move. This goes with all forms of cardio; not just running. If you hate running but love to go swimming, I would tell you to swim because you will be more inclined to go swim than any other for of cardio.

Cardio can help in many ways to improve overall health. I have never felt better from a health standpoint than when I have good cardio endurance. Now, cardio should not be your only form of exercise. Coupling it with a great strength training regimen will see your overall heath and performance skyrocket. Hire a coach, trainer or even read articles and watch YouTube videos before getting into cardio. This is highly repetitive and even the slightest deviation in mechanics can bring out imbalances that can lead to pain and even injury down the road.

Remember, cardio can be enjoyable, so lace em up and HAVE FUN!

For more tips, tricks and guidance, follow me on Instagram and Facebook at @chriskadingCPT and check out the CK Health and Wellness YouTube channel for detailed exercise videos.

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