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What’s the Difference Between Treadmill Running and Outdoor Running?

The debate between running on a treadmill and running in real life is a commonplace topic. What is the difference between the two? Who has the advantage?

Energy consumption:

For those who want to lose weight, energy consumption during running is a more important indicator.

There is also a certain difference in energy consumption between treadmill running and outdoor running. One of the reasons is that there is a certain amount of wind resistance when running outdoors.

In a study conducted at Exeter University, Professor Andrew Jones ran with nine volunteers and measured energy expenditure. Then I ran on the treadmill at the same speed and measured several more times at different slopes. I finally found that when running on the treadmill, I could increase the slope of the treadmill by 1% to not compensate for the energy consumed when running outdoors against the wind.


In this regard, treadmills can avoid all life dangers that may be encountered outdoors, such as cars, flying footballs/basketballs, pedestrians, etc.

For people with a large body weight or underdeveloped muscle groups, running will put greater pressure on the knees and ankles, and the shock-absorbing system on the treadmill can bring good results, which is better than running outdoors. For running, it is more friendly to joints such as knees and ankles.

You can also exercise on a treadmill after an injury because the training intensity and time can be set according to the actual condition of the injured person, especially for injuries to the knee, peroneal muscle or Achilles tendon. The flat running belt of the treadmill is very helpful for post-injury treatment. .

The vertical stride ratio of the Forerunner series watches can be adapted to treadmill running

But running on a treadmill is not a sure thing. Occasionally, injuries may occur, such as sprains, falls, and cardiovascular diseases caused by excessive speed or excessive force.

Another thing to note is that when running on a treadmill for a long time, you need to pay attention to changes in physical fitness and adjust the appropriate speed in time. Otherwise, you will be carried away by the treadmill, and the running will begin to deform and the friction at each joint will increase. , the risk of injury increases.

Exercise effect:

When running outdoors, you don’t run in a pure straight line. You need to turn and avoid pedestrians.

When you run on a treadmill, you are like a hamster on a wheel, always moving forward without turning or other movements.

Compared with treadmills, outdoor running involves more lateral agility training, and other muscle groups and joints of the body are more adaptable to the various terrains encountered during marathons, and can adapt to weather changes, especially races in rainy weather. (Refer to POMA 2018).

You can see what zone your heart rate is in the Forerunner 245, the same applies to treadmills

When running on harder ground, it will provide a larger ground reaction force, which can strengthen the bones to a certain extent. The premise is that the legs have enough strength, because running is a repetitive movement, and the ground reaction force is not small, which requires Enough leg strength to withstand the reaction force.

When preparing for a race, the treadmill is a great helper.

The controllable speed makes it easy for runners to perform high-intensity interval training on the treadmill. Treadmills are very suitable for runners who are unable to grasp their own pace. Once you set the target speed, you can feel the effort required to reach the target pace. This is of great help in actual combat.

Fun and boring:

Imagine running on a treadmill. In fact, only your body is moving up and down, your feet are not moving, and the surrounding scenery has not changed. It is easy to get bored. Running itself is a simple and boring repetitive exercise, let alone other sports. .

When you first start using a treadmill, you may even experience dizziness after running. This is because your brain is temporarily paralyzed. When running on a treadmill, except for you, everything else is almost stationary, so when you suddenly finish running, you stop. When doing this, your brain consciousness is still in a state of motion, with a sense of speed, so you will feel light and even dizzy.

Many treadmills are also working to eliminate the boring feeling caused by running, such as adding visual screens or mobile phone/Pad holders to support watching movies and listening to music, simulating outdoor running environments, etc.

When running outdoors, you can actually feel the environment changing, enjoy nature and breathe fresh air. According to a research report from the School of Education and Health, University of Wolverhampton, UK, it is found that exercising outdoors is better than running outdoors. Exercise is more fun in an indoor environment.

Especially running in an environment surrounded by green trees and rivers can greatly enhance your sense of satisfaction and pleasure, and can relieve stress and negative emotions. People in modern cities gradually feel the fun brought by running, and running gradually becomes a way of entertainment.

The difference between treadmill running and real running is not small, and there are pros and cons, but there is no right or wrong.

The choice between the two depends on your needs and goals.