By Simon Gould
Many people choose to run on a treadmill for many reasons. We at Treadmill.run are one of them. But what reasons are there for running on a treadmill over running outside? It’s very fashionable to describe treadmill running as boring and not worth doing. But 50 million Americans choose to do it every year so there must be some pros to running on a treadmill. They wouldn’t do it otherwise. So here the advantages of using a treadmill.
1. The treadmill console
The console you don’t see anywhere while running outside. When running outside you don’t have any vital stats of your run. Even these fitness watches can’t compete with a good console to give you every bit of running information you need. Here we look at what the console gives you and it’s comparison outside.
- Speed – Running on a treadmill you have your speed given to you at every moment. Your very choice in running on a treadmill is choosing the speed you want to go. Sometimes you might not know if it’s in kph or mph if you’re new to it, but a quick comparison can get you to the speed you want.
- Distance – This is another handy bit of information you get on a treadmill. You get to know your distance as you go. These GPS devices will tell you also but you have to wait until the end of the run. Indoors the lovely treadmill console will tell you immediately. Once you’ve ran as far as you want you can stop straight away and your back to your starting point. Outside you may have to walk or run all the way back home to where you started.
- Calories Burned – OK these are very inaccurate on treadmills. It’s very difficult to tell how many calories you’ve burned. There are so many factors that affect the true number. However, The calories burned on a treadmill will give you a good idea on how much work you’ve put into your run. This is especially the case if you use the same treadmill. You’ll see a definite change in the number on a longer or quicker run.
2. Easier on the joints
This of course depends on what surface you normally run on outside. But a treadmill does have the cushioned running belt for you to run on. It’s still a high impact exercise but far easier than running on concrete. For people who are heavier and want to run as part of a weight loss plan will find a treadmill is not so punishing as an outdoor run.
It’s the ankles and knees that are eased when exercising on a treadmill. Heavier people you can always walk on a treadmill, running isn’t compulsory. You’ll have all the benefits of the console above. There are handrails to hold onto should you get into difficulty. However don’t hold onto them all the time, stay upright for good posture during exercise.
3. No weather problems
If you live where the weather can get to extremes then you’ll be thankful for a treadmill so you can keep up your exercise routine. If you see the snow coming down and you have a treadmill at home and it will get used. It’s always a good investment if you take your running seriously. They can easily fit into a garage.
If you’re a member of a gym and you use the treadmill there and if the weather stops you getting there. That can be a disadvantage for using treadmills. With a home treadmill you can put a nice cooling fan nearby and have the same sensation as a lovely breeze you may have running outside. Plenty of water is available on a treadmill, you need never run out no matter how far your run.
This may sound like a strange word when talking about treadmills but if watching TV is your thing then running outside won’t get you your fix. Sure an ipod can go outside as well but your favorite DVD can only be watched from your treadmill. You can catch up on any shows with a good streaming service.
Running with others you can do outside but if you get to know your gym colleagues then a good conversation can be had on a treadmill too. This is the case even with runners of different abilities. On a treadmill it doesn’t matter what speed you go at, you won’t overtake your friend next to you. Maybe you get on with them more than some others!
Never do you have to run outside alone in the dark when you’re running on a treadmill. This can be an important consideration if you don’t feel safe sometimes at night. There are no vehicles to risk your health, no dogs to fall over. The terrain isn’t going to twist your ankle. You can see exactly where you’re going to put your next stride.
Dogs are known to attack runners. This may make you run faster but it isn’t always a good thing. Running outside with an ipod might not be too safe as you need to keep your wits about you. There are less hazards on a treadmill. However there are still some hazards on a treadmill. Falling off can be very painful so care is needed but you are far safer statistically.
6. Speed work and hill training
Speed work can be done outside but to help you keep an eye on the time taken and distance they don’t beat a treadmill. In gyms you often see people doing there speed work there. Fartlek’s, tempo’s, intervals, high intensity training they are all done better. Plus your joints won’t feel so much of the stress from running inside.
The treadmill was almost designed with hill training in mind. What else can the incline be for. No where else can you find hills of different gradients that occur at different distances and be of different intensities. It is recommended not to overdo hill work as it is stressful on certain parts of the ankle and lower leg.
There are disadvantages too
Yes there are some. Apart from being the opposite of what we’ve said above there are limitations to what a treadmill can do. It’s sometimes helpful to know this when considering what you are using a treadmill for. Below are what we consider to be the disadvantages and we think you’ll agree.
- Cost – A decent treadmill, which is what you need, are quite expensive. The same goes for a gym membership which is the alternative of buying one. They require maintenance on a regular basis. They can go wrong which requires a call out and they’re not cheap. You also need plenty of room to get a treadmill into your home.
- Not the same as running outside – You’ll never find a race such as a marathon being held on treadmills. Training for any race can’t really be done on a treadmill. The 1% incline maybe scientifically as hard as running outside but it still isn’t the same. If you’re entering a race you need to practise on the surface that the race will be held on and that will always be outside.
- Scenery – If you appreciate the outside. Being amongst nature, the trees, the fresh air, you can’t find that on a treadmill. The scenery doesn’t change. The fact that there are different gradients and running surfaces help strengthen the supporting muscles around the lower body especially the legs so people sometimes prefer the great outdoors.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*