Treadmill Vs. Track: Which Running Option is Best for You?

Both options are beneficial to your health, but each has specific characteristics that may be more to your liking. Your preferences are the most important factor in choosing between running on a track and running on a treadmill.
Treadmill Vs. Track: Which Running Option is Best for You?

Last update: 15 November, 2018

On the one hand, we have people who love to exercise indoors. On the other, we have people who love to work out outdoors all year round. Which is better? Running on a track, or running on a treadmill? In this article, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages offered by both the track, and the treadmill.

Running on a track: pros and cons

Let’s start with what some may consider as the more “professional” of the two options. Running on a track isn’t the same as just running outdoors in a park or on the beach. We’re referring to the smooth, even surfaces found in sporting and recreational areas.

Man running on track

One notable advantage of running on a track: it doesn’t depend on any kind of schedule. While it’s true that gyms stay open until late (and some never close at all), it’s also true that they’re often closed on Sundays and holidays.

Meanwhile, public running tracks tend to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whenever you have free time you can put on your running shoes and hit the track.

This activity allows you to burn more calories than you would by running indoors. Why? Because our muscles need to make a different kind of effort, something you can’t replicate even on a difficult treadmill setting.

Another element to consider is nature. Exercising outdoors is more beneficial than doing so in a gym. You can enjoy the scenery and breathe in the fresh air, which will help you with a better mood and greater endurance.

Running on a track also allows you to enjoy the sun and combat the type of vitamin D deficiency that’s caused by spending too much time cooped up in your home or office. Keep in mind that you should avoid exercising when the sun and heat are at their peak, and remember to wear proper sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

While this activity offers many benefits, it does have a few disadvantages. Weather is the true determining factor. If it’s really cold, snowing, or raining, it’s likely to prevent you from running. The same is true if it’s too hot or the sun is too strong.

Running on a treadmill: pros and cons

Now let’s look at another running option at your disposal: going to the gym and using the treadmill, which you can set to different programmed speeds.

The benefits of this activity include that it’s less aggressive in nature than running on a track. The treadmill’s surface is cushioned, and creates less tension in the soles of the feet, the ankles, and the knees. It’s perfect for those of us who have suffered an injury or have a condition, such as tendinitis.

Woman running on treadmill

The treadmill’s even surface requires less muscular effort and balance, even when it’s on a high speed or on an uphill setting. For this reason, it’s highly recommended for those who are new to the world of running.

During the cold and snow of winter, or even when it’s just chilly or raining outside, going to the gym allows us to stick to our routines regardless of the weather. The same is true if we have free time around noon and it’s too hot out.

We should also make mention the disadvantages of running on a treadmill. For starters, many find it boring and monotonous. Even if you’ve run many miles, the scenery never changes! For this reason, many gyms provide TVs and music, and many runners choose to watch movies and TV shows on their phones.

In purely physical terms, your arm movements and stride are significantly limited. Also: you burn fewer calories than you would from running outdoors.

Making the best choice

So which is the right option for you? It all depends on your personal taste. It might be a good idea to use both, so as to have choices. This way, if you go running outside but it’s raining, you can still keep to your routine by going to the gym. And if you get bored of the treadmill, you can spend a few days a week running on a track on in the park.

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