Saturday, July 17, 2010

Outdoor Running vs Treadmill: Which is Better?

Whenever I am in Goa (India), I take every opportunity I get to run outdoors. My house is near a long stretch of lovely beach - so running there is an exhilarating experience. The cool breeze against your face, meeting friends and strangers on the way, and something different to observe each time.

But I live in Kuwait. Kuwait is a desert and the weather outside is a constant reminder that we are living in a place where humans are not supposed to live. If it is not the sand storms or the dust, then it's the heat or the chilling cold. None of this is conducive to outdoor running so I am forced to run on a treadmill.

This made me stop and ponder whether one form of running is superior to the other. I have tried to summarize the advantages of each method of running.


1. Running outdoors means you are running in a natural environment - the way we were designed to run (yes, as a species, we evolved through running/hunting/gathering. We are not designed to sit in an office for 8 hours). When running outdoors, you react to your surroundings and make split-second decisions based on the obstacles and distractions that you encounter. This type of interaction with the environment is good for our body. Even the wind makes us adapt our running style to handle the wind-resistance or wind-assistance.

2. Running outdoors is not monotonous. There is something different to observe each day. You can take different routes to make the run more interesting.

3. Running outdoors is healthier. It is always a good idea to get some fresh air in your lungs and running outdoors is a perfect opportunity to do that.


1. You are not at the mercy of the natural environment and you don't have to abort your running schedule because of rain, snow, hail, floods, dust or any other disruptions caused by Mother nature. You can set your running schedule and stick to it.

2. Running on a treadmill is safer for your joints as the treadmill is softer than the hard ground and absorbs some of the shock on the joints as you run.

3. You can run at a set pace without worrying about obstacles, or distractions and the treadmill provides useful feedback about your progress such as distance run, current pace, calories burned etc. This makes it easier to set a goal and try to achieve the goal.

4. Sometimes, the fresh air outside is overrated. In many places, it may actually be safer to run indoors.

So both methods of running have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, one is not superior than the other. You choose one based on your circumstances and needs.

But must!!!.

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