Woman Outdoor Running

Outdoor Running vs. Indoor Treadmill Running – Which Is Better?

Is outdoor running better than indoor treadmill running – or doesn’t it make a difference?

If you’re a runner, you’ve no doubt heard the age-old debate of whether outdoor running or indoor treadmill running is better. Each method has its pros and cons, and ultimately the choice comes down to individual preferences and goals.

But if you’re getting back into running after a long break, want to run more often, or just want to make sure you’re doing the right thing when you lace up your running trainers… this blog will help you.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of outdoor running versus indoor treadmill running so you can make the right decision for yourself.

Benefits Of Outdoor Running

In one corner, we have outdoor running, so what are the reasons many people LOVE to run outdoors rather than indoors on a treadmill?

Woman Outdoor Running


Running outdoors allows you to experience constantly changing terrain and distracting scenery that can keep you from getting bored.

Increased Challenge

Running outdoors can provide a more challenging workout, as you’ll often encounter hills and uneven surfaces that require more energy to navigate.

More Social

Running outdoors can be more social as you’re able to join running groups, explore new trails with friends, or even meet other runners you encounter along the way.

Drawbacks Of Outdoor Running

But with the good, comes the bad. Here are some of the drawbacks of outdoor running and reasons people would rather stay inside their gym, or on their home treadmill:

Weather Dependent

With the unpredictability of weather conditions, outdoor running can be limited, especially if you live in an area with extreme weather.

Strong winds make it difficult to run at a consistent pace, ice and snow can make it cold and slippery underfoot, and heavy rain can leave you soaking wet.

Hard On Joints And Muscles

The uneven terrain of outdoor surfaces, such as pavement and grass, can lead to more wear and tear on your joints and muscles.

Challenging your joints and muscles can actually be a good thing, and help you maintain stability and strength, however for people with weakness or injuries, outdoor running can be too much to handle.

Safety Concerns

Outdoor running can present risks such as hazardous weather, uneven surfaces, and possible animal encounters among others.

If you like to run in remote areas with poor cell phone signal, and health concerns or haven’t ran for a long time, you might even be worried about needing to stop, and no one being there to help.

Indoor Treadmill Running

And in the other corner, we have indoor treadmill running fighting for the title of the best running method.

Indoor running_Prep Performance Center Physical Therapy

Benefits Of Indoor Treadmill Running

Indoor treadmill running has become increasingly popular as at-home treadmills have become more accessible, more affordable, and more advanced. But why do indoor treadmill runners enjoy this over outdoor runs?

Comfort And Convenience

You don’t have to worry about the weather, and you can run in the comfort of your own home or at a gym in a controlled climate setting.

Easier On Joints And Muscles

Treadmill running allows you to run on a consistently flat, even surface which can reduce the stress on your joints and muscles. There’s no danger of uneven, slippery, or hard surfaces which leave you in pain after your runs.


You can personalize your workout easily by setting your specific pace and incline at the push of a button. Treadmills can also make it easier to track your performance, although the rise and reliability of smartwatches and smartphone run trackers are often just as reliable.

Drawbacks Of Indoor Treadmill Running

But indoor treadmill running has some drawbacks as well which means people are willing to brave the weather and get outdoors.

Lack Of Mental Stimulation

Running on a treadmill can get boring, especially if you’re staring at a blank wall. To get around this, you can use treadmills with built-in screens, or have a TV or tablet within view to keep you entertained.

Lacks Variety

The lack of changing terrain can lead to a repetitive workout that some runners may find not challenging enough. While you can adjust the speed and incline on a treadmill, you can’t recreate the variety of outdoor running which can lead to tedious, repetitive workouts.

Not Social

Indoor treadmill running can be a solitary activity, even if you run at a gym, so it may not be as social as running outdoors. If you are looking to run for health, but also a social aspect, outdoor running may be the better option.

Making The Best Of Both Worlds

Instead of choosing one method over the other, why not combine them?

There’s no harm in trying out different methods and figuring out what works best for you. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Mix It Up

Incorporate both outdoor and indoor treadmill running into your routine to satisfy your need for variety and challenge.

Try Incentives

Make indoor treadmill running more appealing by watching motivational videos or your favorite TV shows while on the treadmill, and save the music and podcasts for outdoor running when you already have the beauty of the outdoors to keep you visually stimulated.

Make Outdoor Running More Comfortable

Invest in the appropriate gear, such as shoes and clothes designed for specific weather conditions, especially if you plan to run outdoors regularly.

Find A Running Group

Whether you run indoors or outdoors, joining a running group can help you stay motivated and boost your social connection. Even if it’s an online running community, sharing your running progress and making friends can be done even if you mostly run indoors on a treadmill.

Whichever option you choose – outdoor running or indoor treadmill running – both methods offer benefits that can help you achieve your fitness goals, and ultimately, you will get the best results with the method you enjoy the most.

By trying out new strategies and mixing up your routine, you can get the most out of both. Remember to embrace the journey, and most importantly have fun while doing it.

Want To Run Faster, Longer, And Without Pain?

If you’re a marathon runner, a casual weekend 5K’er, or you are just getting started with running after a long break, we can help you hit your fastest time, reach new distances, and prevent common running injuries that stop your progress.

To get started, we would invite you to arrange your Free Running Consultation where you can speak to an expert, discover how to prevent and recover from common running injuries, and improve your running performance.

This is a completely free appointment, and due to high demand at our Chicago clinic, we have to limit to the number of Free Running Consultations available.

Call us on (773) 609-1847 or click the link below to avoid disappointment!

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If you aren’t ready to visit our clinic yet but are struggling with aches and pains from running or past injuries, you can get expert advice sent straight to your email inbox.

Simply click HERE to download your FREE Sports Injury Report

This special report contains essential advice for anyone who is working out, or playing sports and unable to perform at their best because of injuries.

More Free Resources To Improve Your Runs

Read Our Blog – How To Prevent Knee Pain When Running

Read Our Blog – 8 Warm Up Exercises For Runners Who Want To Run Faster, Longer And Avoid Injuries

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