Better to run on treadmills, or outside- Part 1

Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside, on the ground? We’ve got an answer to the eternal cardio question.

Can a machine really simulate the motion, and exertion of the real movement? Or to take it further- can it be better that the real movement? So, lets compare running on treadmills and running on the ground, out in the open. There are a lot of factors that need to considered. For each factor, we’ll find out is machine better or vice versa. So, lets find out:

1. Speed control: Controlling your speed is key to running consistently for a distance or time. For starting runners, this is a tough one. When you’re new to running, controlling your speed is difficult. Most people run in short bursts, so keeping a consistent speed can be challenging. With a treadmill, you can set the speed and let things roll. So, treadmills help you develop speed control. Thats one up for the treadmill.

sly420@flickr sly420@flickr

2. Real motion: I’ve yet to come across a treadmill that feels the same as running outside. They might be close, but running out in the open is an experience that is hard to simulate- the exertion, the feel of the ground, and the exact muscle work. To simulate the exertion of running on ground, its recommended to keep the treadmill at a 1% incline. So, this factor one goes to running outside. Between the treadmill and running outside, we’re at 1:1

3. Simulating new geography: If you live in a flat area, and want to train for hills, the best way is to run on a treadmill at a hill incline. Or vice versa, if you’re in a hilly area, its hard to simulate flat runs. So, treadmills wins this factor hands down. Running incline is challenging, so at the same speed, you burn more calories.

So currently, treadmills are winning the competition and 2 points, against 1 for running outside. In Part 2 of treadmill vs outside running, we’ll analyze some more factors to decide the winner.

In the mean time, we’ve got running tips to get started for you.

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  • Shrikant

    I had posed this query earlier and I was told that to get back into running i need to get on to first get my knees and legs conditioned to running.. after a gap of 9 years.
    there are 2 things that are stopping me from starting
    1. my knees start hurting if I run even a few steps like crossing the road.. and I am wondering whether my knee tendons have started wearing away or is there some other reason. I am 39 now and I walk – but walking does not give me the pleasure that it used to earlier.

    2. My right paw and the left heel also hurt and I am trying to find out the right shoes for my feet. Not able to find any show so far that is able to cusion my feet and not hurt when I walk normally.

    These 2 are nagging me at the back of my head and I am wondering whether 9 years of actually no exercise after like 9 prior years of regular running has really made my legs unable to take back to running.
    I am 5’8 and over the last 4 yrs have gone up 5 kgs from 70kg in 2005. sedentary and managerial job with too much of travel to-from work in Bombay.
    could this weight gain and excess walking be a factor, that my feel have to support more weight?
    yes, surely my diet too has gone bad as I have to eat outside most times.
    at the back of my head i know running is what i want to do, to feel the freedom in my head I used to… but where do I start from?
    Shoes? which type, esp. for formal work wear

    any suggestions on these?

  • Fitho

    wow, that’s some history. With your situation, you must refer to an specialist. At Fitho, we provide diet plans and exercise plans to get fit.
    Do let us know if we can be of help to you. email at

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