Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside?

It’s almost summertime, which means that it it time to get back in shape after spending so much time indoors. And what better way to get back in shape than by going on a nice long run through the woods. Or maybe on a treadmill. Whatever, both are the same, right? Well, here’s the thing, they may not be.

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Researchers in Singapore asked runners how fast they thought they were going when they were running outdoors without a speedometer. It turns out, these people were almost always overestimating how fast they were running when put on a treadmill which can control its own speed.

Why does this happen? The researchers think that because there are more visual cues when you are running outside (ie trees, leaves, grass, other people, dogs, etc), your eye makes you believe you are going faster. But when you are on a treadmill running in place, you don’t get these cues, and you have no idea how fast you’re really going.

Preventing injury

One of the best things about a treadmill is that it helps to prevent against injury. Most treadmill belts give a little bit when running, which means that your knees won’t be subject to such jarring impacts. This is compared to running outside on pavement, where the only shock absorbers you have are your knees, something which can cause you knee problems.

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Additionally, while running outside in the rain is fun, you can still slip and fall and seriously hurt yourself. Or you may have a branch on you if the wind it super strong. Overall, if safety is your main concern, perhaps try and stick to a treadmill.

In any case, you can get the same amount of workout on a treadmill at a 1 percent incline as outside.

Green grass and blue skies


Although you may be safer on a treadmill, it still does not give you the wellness associated with running outside. After running in the fresh air, under blue skies, and through green grass, most people tend to feel a lot better and happier than when they feel trapped on a hamster wheel esque treadmill.

Also, many people view running on a treadmill as boring – you’re not going anywhere, you aren’t challenged by hills and dips, and you have no scenery change. There are many people who feel like their run is never ending on a treadmill, but are really sad when their outdoors run is finished.


Perhaps the worst thing about treadmills, as mentioned above, is the boredom that comes with it. And as it turns out, this boredom actually has an impact on how well you run. For people who are bored and can’t visualize the end of their run, it gets much harder to push through and push hard.

However, when running outside with a change in scenery, it is a lot easier to imagine where you are, how much longer you have to go, and how nice it will feel when you’ve completed your run.

Therefore, while running outside has a lot more benefits for you mentally and training wise, treadmills are ok, especially when you live in a climate where running outside is just too dangerous because of the weather.