So, here’s the second part of the series, where we compare exercising on machines, or out in the open. In Treadmills vs Outside Running Part 1, we considered 3 points between treadmills and running outside. At the end of the 3 points, treadmills were winning 2:1 against running outside. Let’s continue to find out, which is better?
4. Speed Change-Sprints/Intervals: Sprints and Interval Training are the fastest way to burn fat, but intervals on the treadmills can be painful, since you have to keep pressing those buttons at the end of every interval, to change your speed. Its kind of annoying than just using your legs to slow down, where you would actually use more muscle in running on the ground, to increase or decrease your speed. In fact using your legs to increase or decrease your speed actually helps to work more muscle. Its even more annoying to simulate sprints on a treadmill. So, this one goes to running outside. We’re even, at 2:2
5. Environment/Access to Space: This one is a toss up. If you live in a nice clean area, with lots of parking or running space, its great to run outside. But treadmills are great if you live in a polluted location, a dirty area, unfriendly weather like rain, snow or heat; or just don’t have running space!
6. Impact on joints: Depending on what kind of ground you run on, the impact varies. Running on a soft surface reduces impact on your joints, whereas pounding your joints on the concrete sidewalks increases that impact. Most gym treadmills have impact factors that are somewhere in the middle- not as reduced as soft surfaces, and not as hard as concrete. So, this factor is also a draw between machines and the real thing. (A great zero impact cardiovascular exercise is swimming)
Similar factors would affect whether you want to use the cycling machines in the gym, or cycle outside, or deciding between a stair climber machine or actually running on stairs, or between a rowing machine and rowing in a lake. Because of equipment expense and access to water bodies, actually rowing is a tough one, but its a fantastic workout.
We’re partial to running outside, since we like to feel our shoes on the ground. But neither won this battle. It really comes down to what the situation is.
But the answer to the ultimate cardio question – Is is better to run on a treadmill or to run outside, on the ground? , is ultimate one -It depends