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Running on a Treadmill: Benefits, and Workouts
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Running on a Treadmill: Benefits, and Workouts

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on October 26, 2022
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9 min

Running on a treadmill and running outdoors have many similarities and differences. Keep reading to find out if treadmill running is right for you.

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Some people love the freedom of running outside, and others prefer the structure and convenience of treadmill running.

Neither style is wrong, and despite any misconceptions you might have heard about one being better than the other, there is no clear winner between the two.

Both have similar benefits as well as some differences that set them apart, making it worthwhile to take time to figure out which is better suited to your needs.

In this article, we will cover the various benefits of treadmill running and give readers some treadmill running tips and exercises created specifically by running coaches.

What Are the Differences Between Treadmill vs. Outside Running? 

Understanding the differences between treadmill running and running outdoors will help you choose the workout that’s right for you.

#1 Running outside is better for your mental health

Running in and of itself is helpful for improving mental health since it can give you a feeling of “runner’s high” due to the endorphins you release. But aside from that, running outside also gives you a chance to soak up some fresh air and sunshine. 

Spending time in green space can improve your mood and self-esteem, make you feel less lonely, and just generally lessen feelings of anxiety and depression.

This improvement in mental well-being is a bonus of going for a run outdoors that you won’t experience by doing a treadmill workout.

#2 You can run on a treadmill all year

Depending on where you live, running outside might only be accessible for a few months a year unless you’re brave and get really good at preparing to run in the cold

The advantage of treadmill running is that you can stick to your running program all year without having to take a break when the weather gets cold. 

#3 Running on a treadmill is a lower impact

Impact refers to how much stress an activity puts on your bones and joints when you do it. 

Outdoor running is considered a higher-impact exercise than going for treadmill runs since most treadmills are designed to absorb some of the impacts when you run.

This makes treadmill running better for anyone who is currently injured and hoping to make their return to running, as well as for someone who has a history of running overuse injuries.

#4 Running outside is more engaging

One thing a lot of people struggle with when it comes to doing a treadmill workout is how repetitive and monotonous treadmill training can be. 

A big advantage to outdoor running is that you are constantly engaged. 

Whether it’s ducking through people on the sidewalk, running up or down hills, or just taking in the scenery around you, there’s more to see. This can make your workout go by quicker.

That being said, you always have the option to watch YouTube videos or listen to your favorite podcast episodes while running indoors, which can help keep you entertained. 

#5 Running on a treadmill is more convenient

This benefit is especially true if you have a treadmill in your home, which makes it even easier for you to sneak in a quick workout without needing much preparation beforehand. 

#6 Running outside is free

Depending on what your budget is, this difference can either make or break the possibility for you to run on a treadmill.

If you have a gym membership, then sneaking in a treadmill workout here and there shouldn’t be a problem, but if not, then having access to a treadmill will either mean purchasing one for your home or investing in a membership at a fitness facility.

Even though all you need to run outdoors is a pair of sneakers, sometimes, getting out the door can feel hard, especially if you hate running. But if you push through, you will enjoy all the benefits of regular running. 

5 Benefits of Running on a Treadmill

Doing a running workout on a treadmill might not be as engaging as outdoor running, but it can still have tons of benefits and will help set you up for consistent running practice

#1 You can accurately measure your distance

One of the big bonuses of treadmill workouts is that you can perfectly tailor them for your level of fitness, which makes them perfect for beginner runners. This can also help you avoid any overuse injuries. 

#2 It’s a great cardiovascular exercise

Running of any kind is one of the best exercises to prevent cardiovascular disease

When you run, the increase in your heart rate helps remove any fatty build-up in your arteries, preventing future heart attacks and strokes. It also reduces blood pressure and strengthens your heart. 

#3 It can strengthen your bones and joints

Treadmill workouts are great for building bone density. The impact of your feet hitting the belt as you run stresses the bones and surrounding muscles, which actually helps stimulate bone growth.

#4 It has a built-in heart rate monitor

Using a heart rate monitor during your workouts is a great way to keep yourself in the best possible calorie-burning range and can even build your endurance. 

Doing a tempo run – meaning you monitor your heart rate to stay in the range right before anaerobic respiration – can help you improve your lactate threshold, helping you run longer and faster. 

#5 You can do it at night

Running outside alone at night isn’t a great idea for anyone, especially women. If you’re in the mood for a late-night run, it’s easier and safer for you to go for treadmill runs than outside. 

How Long Should I Run on a Treadmill?

How long you decide to run will depend on your fitness goals. Running is a great way to burn calories and get rid of stubborn fat, especially around the belly. 

Although it might seem like in order to do this, your treadmill workouts should be long and grueling, there is actually some science to doing interval training. 

This training involves periods of high-intensity running, followed by longer periods of walking or jogging. These workouts can be done in between 20 and 30 minutes and could lead to better results than spending an hour a day on the treadmill. 

10 Workouts on a Treadmill

The best treadmill workout for you will depend on things like your fitness goals, as well as your current level of fitness. 

Running workouts

#1 Running HIIT workout

  • Start with a warm-up of light jogging at a conversation pace for 5 minutes.
  • Follow this with 30 seconds of intense running (somewhere between 65–80% of your maximum heart rate).
  • Then do a brisk walk or light jog for 90 seconds to recover. 
  • Repeat this 9 more times, and then do a light jog or brisk walk for 3–5 minutes to cool down. 

#2 Alternating hill workout

  • Start with a 5-minute warm-up of light jogging at a conversational pace.
  • Increase the incline to 2% and walk briskly for 1 minute.
  • Decrease the incline to 1% and run at a maintainable pace for 1 minute.
  • Increase the incline to 3% and walk for 2 minutes.
  • Decrease the incline to 1% and run at the previous pace for 1 minute.
  • Increase the incline to 4% and walk for 3 minutes.
  • Decrease the incline to 1% and run for 1 minute.
  • Continue this for as long as it feels good before doing a light jog or brisk walk for 3–5 minutes to cool down.

#3 Matching intervals

  • Start with a 5-minute warm-up of brisk walking or light jogging.
  • 1 minute of a comfortable pace.
  • 1 minute of 1–2 miles above a comfortable pace.
  • 2 minutes of a comfortable pace.
  • 2 minutes of 1–2 miles above comfortable pace.
  • Continue building like this for as long as you want before ending the workout with a 3–5-minute cool-down of light jogging or brisk walking.

#4 Testing your endurance

  • Start with a warm-up of light jogging or brisk walking for 5 minutes.
  • 1 minute of the highest possible output (somewhere between 80–85% of your maximum heart rate).
  • Followed by 1–2 minutes of walking to let your heart rate recover.
  • Continue alternating back and forth between the two intervals for 20–30 minutes before doing a light jog or brisk walk to recover.

#5 Fartlek workout

  • Start with a 5-minute warm-up of light jogging or brisk walking.
  • Followed by a moderate-effort run for 2 minutes.
  • Followed by a 1-minute sprint.
  • Followed by a light jog for 1 minute.
  • Followed by a 1-minute sprint.
  • Followed by a 2-minute moderate-effort run.
  • Keep building like this for as long as you want; fartleks are meant to be open-ended workouts.
  • End with a 3–5-minute cool down of light jogging or brisk walking.

Non-running workouts

#1 Side shuffle

  • Set the speed on the treadmill low.
  • Lean forward and bend your knees until you are in a squatting position.
  • Extend your left leg beside you and plant your foot, followed by your right foot.
  • Repeat this motion for as long as it feels good.
  • Make sure to do both sides.

#2 Walking lunges

  • Set the speed on the treadmill low.
  • Step your right foot far out in front of you and bend your back knee until both your right and left knee are at 90 degrees.
  • Then switch sides.
  • Repeat this for as long as it feels good.

#3 Walking planks

  • Set the speed on the treadmill low.
  • Start with both of your hands off the track.
  • Set your feet far back behind you and straighten your spine.
  • Then put your hands on the track and walk them one in front of the other for as long as you can.

#4 Mountain climbers

  • The treadmill should be off.
  • Place your feet on the treadmill, your hands directly under your shoulders, and make sure your spine is straight.
  • Then draw your knees toward your body one by one for as long as you can.

#5 Treadmill push

  • The treadmill should be off.
  • Put both of your hands on the handles of the treadmill, lean forward, and then push against the track with your feet.
  • There should be a lot of resistance, but with enough force, the track should move.
  • Continue for as long as you can.

FAQs

What is the price of a treadmill?

Most treadmills can vary in price, costing anywhere from $150 to over $3,000. 

You can expect to find an affordable and decent quality treadmill in the range of $500–1,000; anything more than that will buy you a machine with a wider track and a larger control console. 

What are the popular brands of treadmills?

If you’re looking to buy a treadmill for your home, your best bet would be to check out treadmills sold by Sole and NordicTrack.

Is running on a treadmill good for you?

Running of any kind will never be bad for you. Running on a treadmill is a great way to burn calories, lose weight, and improve cardiovascular fitness.

It is also a lower-impact activity than outdoor running. This makes it great for anyone with joint problems or those who want to get back into running after an injury.

Why is it easier to run on a treadmill?

Physically, running on a treadmill is easier due to the fact that the track absorbs much of the impact, and the belt on the treadmill assists with leg turnover.

The thing that people often find more difficult about running on a treadmill is the monotony and lack of stimulation.

A Word From Our Coach

Whether you decide to run indoors or outdoors, you can’t really go wrong. Either way, you will be building strength and improving your cardiovascular health.

If you are using treadmill running during the winter to prepare your body for running outdoors, focus on building up your endurance and make sure to always use the proper running form, even when you’re tired.

Doing so will get your body ready for longer outdoor runs come spring. 

Keep in mind that the same workout you did on a treadmill will feel more difficult outside if you decide to make the switch, so don’t feel bad if your regular training plan all of a sudden feels more challenging.

Bottom Line

Treadmill running is surprisingly different from running outdoors but still gives many of the same benefits. 

Along with being a great cardiovascular exercise that quickly builds strength and cuts calories, treadmill running is a more convenient option that can also be done during the colder winter months. 

Using some of the treadmill running tips and workouts in this article can help you run your way to better health and set up exercise routines that will last a lifetime.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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