Is is easier to run on a treadmill or outside?

Just trying to settle a debate. Is it easier to run outside or on a treadmill?

Easier in what way?

Treadmill is easier, no question.

I can run for 25 to 30 minutes on a treadmill, even with a slight incline. Get me outside, and I’m gassed after a couple of minutes.

That is why I asked in what way. I find it easier to run outside just because I like running outside and hate treadmills.

In terms of sheer energy exerted, you are probably correct though. The treadmill has a smooth surface no matter what. You can also develop an unnatural stride on one because the belt is moving or worse, grab on the handles whenever you want.

… and let me add that it’s even easier (for me) to run “faster” on a treadmill than it is outside. I has to be (other than ideal temperature/conditions) the fact that the treadmill is “moving” your foot backwards, even as irrelevant as it might seem. I can’t think of another reason. The difference between your legs moving you forward (outside) and keeping your legs from moving backwards. Perhaps this is IMHO, but that’s what I believe.

There’s no wind resistance on a treadmill. And it’s always perfectly flat, in the sense that you can’t actually move your body up a hill. For those reasons I’d expect the treadmill to be easier.

And don’t you dare mention airplanes…

No wind and a nice springy surface to run on. Apart from that I’m pretty sure there is no difference to your body between running forwards on a stationary surface and running stationary on a moving surface. Likewise for running up a hill or running up a moving incline.

Of course the treadmill is easier. To run outside, first you have to go outside! Then you have to come back inside!



If you run fast enough, will you take off and fly?

Of course the treadmill seems easier, because it’s flat, cushiony, and it has bars to hold on to. But the horrible monotony of running on a treadmill versus doing my exercise outside- where I can at least be somewhat distracted by the scenery- makes running outside so much more enjoyable and therefore easier than going on the treadmill.

Putting the grade on the treadmill to about 1% approximates running outside.

It’s also a lot less “work” to run on the treadmill, by which I mean, there’s no potholes, no dogs, no cars, nothing to trip on. You don’t have to stay so alert.

Who holds onto the bars when running on a treadmill? Don’t your arms have to swing when you run? I don’t get it.

Only for 20 minutes, with a 1920s style ‘burning you dog’

Aren’t they there mostly just for starting and stopping?

By “grade,” do you mean the incline of the treadmill surface? Why would that affect the body’s power output? It shouldn’t cause you to do any more work because you can’t actually move up.

Running up a steep bluff gives a extreme workout.

I don’t run for anything anymore. I found the best for my feet was to take a path on a peat soil. It’s so springy and easy on the feet and other places you jar when running.

The treadmill is “easier” in that it provides extreme consistency. You are always going in a straight line, always on the flat (unless you have a treadmill that can incline, and that case the incline is constant). You can use a very regular stride, not dodging rocks or pavement irregularities. You can develop a very strong rhythm.

However, that same boring consistency is what can drive some people nuts, and can lead to repetitive motion injuries (according to my doctor). I don’t run anymore but I bike, and I have rollers (bike equivalent of a treadmill) for winter. I usually ride on the road 1-3 hours, but I can’t stand to ride on the rollers more than an hour; I go bonkers mentally.

You can’t move up, but you have to overcome a little bit of gravity. When you run on a flat treadmill, you just have to push hard enough to overcome the force the treadmill is imparting to you. When you run on an inclined one, you have to overcome that force, plus a bit of gravity. Consider the extreme case: a vertical treadmill. If you’re climbing hand over hand up a revolving ladder that’s moving down, you still have to lift your weight constantly.

Or just try it. It’s pretty obviously harder to run on an inclined treadmill.

For me a treadmill is harder. On my treadmill I have to run at a specific speed whereas outside I can slow down/speed up naturally depending on my energy. Yeah, I can very the speed on my treadmill but it’s easier to do it outside.