Last Updated: February 6th, 2021
Some runners say, it is hard…some say it is easier…which one is it? Is running on a treadmill easier or is it another marketing gimmick? Let’s find out…below we have provided you with all the details that you need and you will be able to decide for yourself.
Is Running On A Treadmill Easier?
Yes, running on a treadmill is easier because the treadmill belt assists the movement of your legs. Also, due to this, you can achieve a higher pace on treadmills with lesser efforts. Another reason it is easier because it will help you to maintain your set pace on its own without much assistance from you.
OK OK, I get it…running on a treadmill is easier…but why is it easier? Interested to find out? Then read on…
How is treadmill running easier?
Treadmill running is easier for a variety of reasons:
Improved Leg TurnOver – Treadmill belts assist you with your leg movement. In a way, you are utilizing the treadmill belt rotation to move your leg. This means you are exerting less force by yourself to get the same pace that you do on the roads.
This is the reason it is way easier for you to run on a treadmill. Also, you will be surprised by how much your pace changes when you hit the roads.
Maintain a set pace – The speed on the roads are regulated by your own fatigue level or the amount of force you are exerting.
However, if you are running on a treadmill, you can set and forget the pace. Your legs will automatically move with the belt and you need not bother at all about it.
Tissue Hardening – Treadmills are more forgiving than the roads. So, some of the tissue hardenings that occurs from continuously pounding the roads, don’t occur on a treadmill.
No potholes or poodles to deal with – On treadmills you will never have to deal with potholes or poodles. Once you turn on this machine, you can enjoy your running at a pleasurable pace.
No bad weather – When you are running on a treadmill, you are working out on the inside. Which means you have no bad weather to deal with. So, no matter the weather outside, you will always be able to do your favorite workout.
No traffic or crowd dodging – This is one of the best things for any runner. All those dodging and just misses are taxing on your senses. This is an additional burden to always watch out for that you don’t bump into something or someone. Also, when you are on a treadmill, you don’t have to think about the car in front and an inattentive driver.
Although the above picture seems to be very rosy, there is something that you must be aware of about treadmills.
If you are running on a treadmill, your chances of getting a knee injury are higher, if the running platform doesn’t have proper cushioning.
In such cases, you will be bouncing up and down on the belt which puts this adverse pressure on your knees.
So, don’t go for treadmills that don’t have shock absorption, instead try some which already have a built-in impact absorption system. If you think that, they will cost you a bomb, actually they will not.
Here is an article that I’ve written about the most affordable quality treadmills that will not damage your knees.
How effective is treadmill running compared to running outside?
Treadmill running on its own is very effective.
It will teach you the tricks of running without having to ever go outside.
Also, you will be able to reap full cardiovascular benefits from running even if you are on a treadmill.
However, if you compare it with running outside, it is significantly different.
Treadmill running is easier – Due to the reasons mentioned above, treadmill running is easier. This means that for outside running you will be exerting more force. This makes your body more involved and you may tone up faster.
No race practice – No matter how hard you train on a treadmill, it will never get you ready for an actual race. In an actual race, you will have to run on roads or concrete or trails. The treadmill surface is very smooth and will not be able to provide the level of friction that these surfaces provide. This means, you don’t know what to expect on a race day and you will end up exhausted early.
No practice of running in the rain or bad weather – Remember that Boston marathon? Well, we all do…it was a hell of weather. Even if you don’t have to deal with such bad weather, rain, heat, and humidity are all part of your running. However, running on a treadmill will never let you experience this or how to manage this kind of situation. So, if you face this on a race day, it will be a complete surprise for you to deal with it.
In short, although treadmill running is as effective as regular running from a cardiovascular perspective, from a race preparation perspective it is not that effective.
So, if you are a hobbyist runner with no intention of running in a race, treadmill running is fine for you. For others, it’s better to go outside and run, with occasional treadmill sessions.
What are the benefits of running on a treadmill?
Running on a treadmill will give you a lot of benefits.
Here are some of them:
Improving Cardio-Vascular health – When running on a treadmill, you can reap the full benefits of an improved cardiovascular system.
Also, do you know that treadmills can show you early signs of heart diseases even if there are no symptoms yet?
For example, a physician can use treadmills to find out if there is any blockage or other issues with your heart.
Other than that, if you regularly run on treadmills, you will have improved blood circulation.
This, in turn, will help you to strengthen your heart and will improve your vitality.
Weight-loss – Treadmills are very effective in dealing with your weight issues. Not only losing weight, but treadmills can also help you in maintaining your weight.
Also, using a treadmill you will be able to lose weight fast. This article provides you with step by step details on how to use a treadmill to lose weight fast.
Control your diabetes – When you run regularly your diabetes can stay in check. To do that you should run 20 to 30 min on a treadmill. This will force your muscles to use up the glucose and will lower your blood sugar level.
Maintain your exercise schedule – When the weather is bad outside, we may be forced to stay inside. If you don’t have a treadmill you may be forced to skip your running schedule. However, with a treadmill, you are can easily maintain your exercise schedule.
Can a treadmill flatten your stomach?
If you are looking for spot reduction then a treadmill may not be ideal for you.
In fact, no exercise can guarantee a spot reduction.
The treadmill will help you lose fat and in the process will flatten your stomach.
However, you will never have that 6 packs, if you are thinking to develop that through running.
If you want to get a toned ab, then include some form of strength training with your running.
With running, you will be able to maximize weight loss, whereas your strength training will help you to develop lean muscles.
The combination of these two will help you to get flat abs.
One more thing is, don’t overdo running to lose weight fast.
You will have to deal with other problems like skinny fat, loose skin from weight loss, runner’s face, or you may become overall skinny.
Instead, focus on losing 1-2 pounds of weight every week.
Also, if you are strength training with your running, then you may see weight gain.
Don’t be alarmed as this is due to the development of muscles.
Since muscles are heavier than fat, you will weigh more. However, with this, you will also look more toned and healthy.
Why do I run slower on a treadmill?
There may be a lot of reasons that make you run slower on treadmills:
Heat – Believe it or not, many runners feel uncomfortably hot while running on a treadmill.
When you are running on a treadmill you are in a closed environment.
Mostly the air around you is still and it doesn’t help you to cool down.
Also, if you turn on the fan or AC, the air will circulate. However, it is still the same air and it may not do a good job in cooling you down.
And as head rises your natural speed reduces.
It is scientifically proven that, with every degree of rising in your body temperature, your heart rate goes up by 10 bpm.
This means, your heart will be beating way faster than it would if you were outside.
So, naturally, you will slow down.
Wear and tear of the machine – Yes, this is true.
Think about it…
You have set a set pace on the treadmill, yet you feel that it is too much to keep up with.
When you are outside, you can easily run at that pace.
Has it ever happened to you?
Then it may be due to the treadmill measurement out of wack.
This regularly happens if you have a treadmill for a while.
Due to wear and tear, it sometimes speeds up or slows down.
In such a machine 5 mph may actually be 5.5 or 6 mph or more…
So, this may make you think that you are running slow, however, in reality, you are running faster than you would run outside.
Is running on a treadmill better for your joints?
Well, yes and no.
Running on treadmills can be very bad for your joints.
However, you get what you pay for.
There will be no cushioning and you will be bouncing up and down with every step.
So, there is additional downward stress on your knees.
This can literally cause injuries to your knees and you may have to stop running for some time.
However, if you use a good treadmill like the one mentioned above, then you will get a lot of cushioning.
This will eliminate this bouncing motion and your knees will be in perfect shape.
In short, don’t go for a cheap treadmill, go for a decent one. In any case, a treadmill will last you for years and will prove to be a great investment.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
Hitchings, Russell, and Alan Latham. “Indoor versus outdoor running: understanding how recreational exercise comes to inhabit environments through practitioner talk.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 41.4 (2016): 503-514.
Davis, J., 2012. Is treadmill running the same or easier than running outside.
Jones, A.M. and Doust, J.H., 1996. A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. Journal of sports sciences, 14(4), pp.321-327.
Waldvogel, Paul, Bryan VanDreese, Ali Mater, Morgan Kolbeck, and Ben Pearson. “Caloric Expenditure of Treadmill Running at 1% Grade Versus Outside Running.” (2011).