Running is, hands down, one of the best aerobic exercises you can perform to burn fat, get in shape, and maintain an overall healthier lifestyle. So it makes sense that, on any given day, countless Americans either walk into the gym and jump on a treadmill or take to the great outdoors and break a sweat on the street — but what difference does it make?
Is it just a matter of personal preference or are those running on treadmills getting a different workout from those getting some fresh air? For all those who've wondered what scientists have to say on the matter, we've got you covered.
According to a study performed by Exeter University, running outdoors exerts more energy than doing the same indoors. However, putting a treadmill at just one percent incline makes it is nearly equal to running on uneven city streets.
In terms of speed, researchers have concluded that treadmills actually slow down gym-goers on average. While on the machine, your pace is set to a constant. As it turns out, most runner actually underestimate their speed and set their treadmill to a more relaxed pace. This results in individuals not challenging themselves enough — which makes for fewer calories burned.
By contrast, those who ran outside ran faster and went on for longer. Some theorize that people go further and faster when outdoors because of the relative difficultly in measuring time, speed, and distance. Sure, you can track your progress while on the street, but watching the seconds tick upward allows you to accurately track (and stop at) the half-hour mark.
If Homer can find time to run, so can you.
When outdoors, instead of constantly watching the clock, we let our minds wander. Instead, we spend our attention on examining the sidewalk for cracks, people watching, and admiring the outdoors. This outside focus puts fatigue to the wayside, allowing us to push ourselves further.
Mind over matter.
Remember, there is no fatigue.
Based on these studies, it seems pretty obvious that running outside provides the most benefit, health-wise — but it doesn't come without some minor risks. On a scenic jog, you're more likely to encounter uneven or unstable surfaces, which means you're more likely to fall and, potentially, injure yourself. Additionally, you're exposed to the elements when you run outside — which could contribute to overheating on a sunny day.
Wherever you decide to get your aerobic exercise, just remember it's important to change up how long, how far, and how hard you run throughout the week — keep your body guessing.
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