What is the best-selling product in the home gym fitness industry? It’s the treadmill of course. Beloved machine of athletic housewives, stay-at-home dads, seasoned runners and working professionals, the treadmill has not lost its charm over the decades it has been available for consumer use. But what about the more serious argument at stake here? Which is better for running and cardio needs, a treadmill or actual outdoor running? Ding-ding, let the fight begin.
The treadmill has a lot going for itself in terms of convenience. In our grab and go culture the treadmill sits firmly as the TV dinner of workout toys. It’s easy to operate, you just walk straight up to it, start off at 0.5 mph and raise the speed to a level you are comfortable with. Have a quick or long run, cool down gently, and get off. Bucket loads of perspiration, calories lost, and increased cardiovascular fitness. What’s not to like?
Over to outdoors running. There is nothing like getting into the great outdoors. Fresh air, the sounds of Mother Nature, the feel of the wind against your skin. It’s therapeutic, the terrain constantly changes, and the scenery can be breath taking. You aren’t confined to a single spot like you are on a treadmill. The open ground is spacious, no chance of an attack of claustrophobia.
Then you can grab a partner and trek through your chosen route. The whir of the treadmill motor will not distract you. And oh did I mention the fresh air; or how about a load of smog because you don’t live in the city. There are no parks, no scenic spots. You have to dodge irate drivers, trucks sway too close to the sidewalk. Or worse there is none.
And then the rain kicks in. Wish you’d bought that treadmill now?
So it seems the treadmill wins hands down with convenience and less chance of threat to life from caffeine overloaded drivers. Unless your treadmill has a power surge or you trip on your laces and fly off at break neck speed and land on your, er neck….
But joking aside, it’s a matter of choice, the treadmill can hold its own with free running but there also needs to be a few issues addressed.
How do you relieve boredom on a treadmill? Thankfully today’s treadmills come with audio ports. You can hook your phone or mp3 players in and the speakers will blast out your music of choice. But what’s different about that than just playing music on your headphones?
Well treadmill technology has been revolutionized in the past decade. Not only do you now get audio speakers capable of filling a small stadium with sound, but you also get TV enable consoles. Just check the Life Fitness Platinum range or the FreeMotion 790 for instance. Not only that but if you are prepared to pay over $600 you can get a treadmill with an internet powered console.
With this you can watch YouTube, browse websites, plus with all the rage with Fitbit and online tracking websites, you can upload all your stats online and see how you are progressing. This data can also be hooked up with your online diet program, and you can even follow along with workouts via the revolutionary iFit application. This baby will take control of your treadmill and raise the speed and the ramp up and down and take you through a virtual run of a location you specify.
If this is not enough you can use this app to load up a personal trainer who will ferociously put you through your paces. Feeling unmotivated? Now there’s nowhere to hide.
Mix It Up
If you are training for a 5k then you shouldn’t train solely on a treadmill. A treadmill can be great for training in the winter and training at night, but if you have to compete in an outdoor 5k, then you also need to get into the outdoors and train there as well. The main difference is the wind factor and also everything on a treadmill is controlled, it’s constant. The belt turns preciously at a certain speed, and there is no wind drag.
You have to get used to running with wind resistance to get accustomed to this environment. Simply put if you do not train in this atmosphere then your senses and energy levels can become overloaded on the day of the race. You would not train for a river or sea race without training in the ocean. You could use a swimming pool for stamina and to keep in shape. But it would not replicate the waves, the currents and rapids, and the force needed to swim against them. Not to mention the wind again….
Which Is Better? Indoor Treadmill Running or Outdoor Running? Fight!
There is no definitive answer to the question. Even if you are a proactive outdoor runner your mood can change from day to day. Even with all the gadgets, treadmill running can also get old after a while. It is nice to be able to do both. A treadmill definitely is convenient, due to weather, location and time commitments. And there is nothing like getting out in the fresh air. Plus it is a lot safer training on a treadmill at night than being out running the roads.
One of the best options is to buy an entry level treadmill. Most people who buy treadmills don’t tend to do a lot of outdoor running. It’s also true that most people who buy a treadmill also don’t use it regularly enough to justify the interest in buying one. It’s probably best to buy a cheap model and garner your interest after a year. If you like it and use it a lot, you can upgrade to a fancier model that has all the online and advanced training features.