Treadmills are some of the most widespread aerobic machines known to humans. At gym centers, they are usually displayed in rows, typically facing flat screen televisions, or better yet, carrying their own TV sets. There is a reason for their popularity: it’s because treadmills are in very high demand. It is not uncommon to have to wait for your turn during peak hours.
For the millions of health club members, a treadmill is a cardio workout equipment they simply cannot pass up. But the question is: is the treadmill machine really that effective? How does it compare with running outside?
Is Treadmill better than outside running?
Generally speaking, you can get a comparable aerobic workout on the treadmill as you would through outdoor running, as long as you dispense the same level of effort on the treadmill as you do running outside. Please note that I said effort, rather than speed. If your speed on the treadmill machine is exactly the same as for your outdoor running exercise, then you would be burning less calories running on the treadmill. This is because when you run outside, you are exposed to different environmental factors that are completely non-existent on a treadmill. For example, when you run outside, you are subject to wind resistance, and uneven terrain. When you are on a treadmill machine, the ground is actually being moved underneath you, rather than the opposite. Also, the flat surface of the treadmill never changes. This means you are exerting much less effort on the treadmill than you would if you were running outside.
In order to make up for the lack of wind resistance on the treadmill, you may want to raise the incline to level 1 or level 2. However, making this adjustment does not fix the fact that the treadmill surface remains a flat terrain. But if you are just exercising as part of your daily workout routines (rather than for a competition), a treadmill should be fine as long as you challenge yourself enough by raising the incline level. Feel the change in your heart rate when you make that adjustment. You should experience a noticeable increase in your heart beats.
Treadmill versus outside running: should I Train on a treadmill?
If you are training for a marathon, I would recommend running outdoors, rather than training on a treadmill. You want to train in the race conditions as closely as you possibly can. When you run outdoors, you go uphill, but also downhill. You can‘t run downhill on a treadmill. Also, when you run outdoors, you make turns to the left and to the right, which is impossible on a treadmill. This means you are using less muscle groups when you run on a treadmill than when you run outside.
Beyond the physiological benefits of running outdoors, you also get to enjoy the weather and the beautiful scenery. It keeps you more motivated because you can run side by side with a partner, and you can change routes. I know a lot of people who give up exercising because they claim that they do not have a workout partner. To those people, I say: find a workout buddy with whom you can run outdoors.
If you have no choice but to train on the treadmill, just keep in mind that the calorie counter on the treadmill machine does not display accurate numbers. The ultimate test of your endurance is how much you push yourself.
One exercise I fancy on the treadmill is as follows: I set the incline at level 15 (the maximum incline level), then I alternate between 30 seconds of running at 5 miles per hour, and 30 seconds of walking at 1 mile per hour. I keep alternating between running and walking for a good half hour. I feel the burn after this particular aerobic exercise as it pushes me to my limits. I recommend you try this aerobic and strength training workout some time. If you are a beginner, I suggest you set the treadmill incline level at 6 or 7.
That’s it on the topic of running outside versus on a treadmill. No matter where you do your workout (whether indoors or outdoors), I suggest you always push yourself as much as you can. That’s the only way you can achieve your weight loss goals. Good Luck!
Crazy Full Body Workout on Treadmill