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Is it Better to Run Outdoors or on a Treadmill?

Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

There are those who like to run outdoors and then there are those who always prefer the treadmill. Which category do you fall under? and more importantly which of those two options will help you get a better workout? New research has revealed that those who run outdoors may have the upper hand.

A study that was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism has come to the conclusion that you would need to run 15% faster on a treadmill to match the energy you would use if you were running outside. In short, running outdoors burns more calories than running on a treadmill.

Related: How to Start Running

Why do you burn more calories running outdoors?

In the study, researchers put participants through three kinds of high-intensity interval workouts: 30 seconds of outdoor running followed by 30 seconds of rest, 30 seconds of treadmill running at 1% incline followed by 30 seconds of rest, and lastly the same treadmill workout but at a 15% greater velocity.

By comparing the results and energy expenditure between the three workouts it was discovered that the treadmill workout with a 15% greater velocity best represented the same physiological responses as the outdoor running session. They speculated that this is because the treadmill acts like a spring that lets you do less work as you run. Additionally, when you run on a treadmill there is much less air resistance that you need to overcome.

Any running is better than no running

While outdoor runners may feel great about this news, that doesn't mean that you should give up on the treadmill. The important factor is that you keep running, either on the treadmill or outdoors and that you enjoy yourself. If you hate running outdoors then stick with the treadmill. After all, any running is better than not running at all.

For those of you that like to listen to music when you run, running on a treadmill is a lot safer than running outdoors. When you run outdoors you need to be much more mindful of your surrounding, especially if you run on the roads or in urban areas.

Related: What to Wear for a Run for the Weather?

How to maintain energy and momentum

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a run and you are just far more fatigued than you normally would be? For endurance sports of any kind, it is essential that you feel your body the right energy and nutrients it needs to power through. Often when we lack the proper energy and nutrients are body will feel worn down. If you are already in the middle of a workout, it's too late to eat food since it can lead to stomach cramps and other discomforts. But it's not too late to take an energy gel. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can read more about how energy gels give the body essential carbs and electrolytes to power through any endurance workout.

Related: Why am I tired During my Workout?