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The Benefits of Running on a Treadmill vs Running Outside

Within the running community you may come across two different camps - those who love running outside, and those who prefer to exercise on a treadmill, whether that’s at home or in the gym. While the choice often comes down to personal preference, there are many unique benefits to each.

Benefits of Running Outside

  • Running in the fresh air

If you've been feeling a little stuck indoors, an outside run is a fantastic way to get some fresh air and clear your head, benefitting both your physical and mental wellbeing. The air outside is higher in oxygen as well, which helps to boost your energy, clear your lungs and lower blood pressure. Natural light can also help boost your vitamin D, which is critical for keeping bones and muscles strong and healthy, especially during the dark winter months.

  • Experience new sights/explore new areas

Going for a run outside is a fantastic way to discover new locations, see exciting sights and explore green landscapes and cities - while working on your fitness. You can run anywhere within reason (remember safety is priority!), whether you're on holiday, visiting family or exploring locations closer to home. In fact, taking a different route on your daily run can be a great way of finding new hidden gems you might otherwise have missed. 

  • Naturally challenging

As you run outside, you'll naturally encounter a variety of different surface types, whether that's hilly slopes, grassy trails, dirt tracks or paved steps. Likewise, you'll also probably have to run against the wind at some point, adding an element of resistance for you to run through. This means your run is more likely to challenge you and push you slightly outside of your comfort zone. As a result your whole body will have to work harder to keep you stable, strengthening your core, your ankles and legs even more. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and running shoes that fit you and adjust your pace if needed.

  • Almost always interesting

It's tough to get bored when running outside - whether you're people watching as you go, or simply soaking up the views, there's plenty to see to keep your brain stimulated. You can easily mix up your surroundings by heading to a new park or destination to provide new, exciting sights to enjoy. 

  • Free and flexible

As you don't need anything except your kit to run outside, it's an incredibly convenient way to stay fit without spending any money. Pretty much anywhere in the world will have somewhere you can run without having to rely on any equipment, so you can keep up your fitness routine, even while travelling.

Benefits of Running on a Treadmill or in the Gym

  • Run in any weather

No need to put your exercise routine on hold just because it's blowing a gale outside, or risk exhaustion during a heatwave; treadmill running means you avoid any weather extremes and can always stay comfortable and cool. While it's possible to wrap up against the wind and the rain, it doesn't make for the most enjoyable run. With a treadmill in a gym, or in the warmth of your own home, you can keep running all year round. 

  • Can tailor it perfectly to your needs

By playing with the settings on the treadmill, you can make sure you're pacing yourself perfectly, with the bonus of being able to easily increase and decrease your speed for any high intensity training sessions. You can also increase the incline for a tougher workout, which is perfect when training for trail runs outside or simply pushing for a different type of challenge. Not sure how to use a treadmill? Check out our beginner guide to treadmills here.

  • Gentler on your joints

Thanks to softer cushioning, the treadmill provides a gentler landing as you run compared with concrete, which helps to reduce the impact on your ankles, knees and hips. If you're recovering from an injury or are prone to issues with your joints, it's the safest option but please make sure to check with a qualified professional such as a a physiotherapist to get clearance for running before you start.

  • Just needs one set of running gear

When running outside your kit needs to adjust to all manner of different variables - is it windy, is it cold, is it raining, is it dark outside, will you be running on grass or pavements? When running on a treadmill you just need one pair of running shoes and your usual gym wear and you're good to go - no need to worry about waterproofs, ear covers or high vis vests. 

  • Less risk of injury

Being able to run in place on the smooth, well lit surface of the treadmill helps you avoid the pitfalls of running outdoors. From traffic and pedestrians to potholes, there are many ways you could roll an ankle or risk tripping when running outdoors. While the treadmill isn't guaranteed to be injury-free (be particularly careful when slowing down and stepping off the machine), you can reduce the risk dramatically. 

Discover more reasons to love the treadmill with our guide.

Should you run on a treadmill or outside?

While there are benefits to each, the best type of exercise is the one you enjoy and will actually stick to. Whether you prefer to run on the treadmill, at the gym or outside is totally up to you - try both and see which you prefer! And the best thing is, you don't need to stick to one. Enjoy running outside when the evenings are light and the weather is warm, then head to the gym to use the treadmill on those dark winter days. Whichever you choose, you can find more advice and inspiration over on our running hub, or check out our running FAQs if you have any specific questions. 

Here at PureGym we offer a range of fitness equipment to suit your needs (whatever the weather!) Find your local gym and join up today, and you can start running on one of our treadmills, as well as making use of our excellent weights, cardio and resistance machines.

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