Depending on your immediate, long-term or overall fitness goals, where it is best to run greatly differs between runners. There are both positives and negatives to running on the treadmill and running outdoors, but which provides your body with the greatest benefits? Which one gives you not only the physical exertion but the greatest mental break as well? Let’s compare…
Benefits of Indoor Running
1. Tracked and measured
When you’re running indoors, you have a very calculated workout. Machines offer information on your heart rate, calories burned and incline percentage, not to mention exact speed and the time lapsed. This information is great for people wanting to track their workouts, and measure their improvements in speed, distance and stamina. It also is perfect for people who don’t have access to wearable fitness technology.
2. How, when and where
Running on the treadmill gives you greater power in your choice of terrain. When training indoors you’re able to choose the steepness and thus the intensity of your workout at any given time. By being in the comfort of a gym (or if you’re lucky your own home) there is also little to no limitations as to when you can workout. You have the ability to break a sweat and push yourself rain, hail or shine. Your choice of attire doesn’t have to be weatherproof either. Indoor training facilitating a workout whether it’s 30 degrees or 5 degrees so that breathable long sleeve waterproof windbreaker isn’t necessary.
Benefits of Outdoor Running
1. Reduces stress
Although running indoors may be better controlled and measurable, there is a whole range of benefits to bearing the elements and hitting the pavement, track or beach. Firstly, running outdoors has been proven to be the most effective method of reducing stress (compared to running on a treadmill). In 2004, a study from Duke University showed that people who ran outdoors ran faster, finished less exhausted and felt more revitalised, tranquil and satisfied by their run compared to those who ran indoors. It seems like a no-brainer if your surroundings are running through a beautiful park compared to watching a high street through a glass window.
2. Increases motivation
Another benefit is the constant motivation of your surroundings. If you’re like me and you have to cover your treadmill machine to avoid counting the seconds, running outdoors is actually a lot more encouraging because of the physical end goal in mind rather than a number (whether that be a time, distance or calories burned).
3. Increases intensity
Yes, running outdoors does make you at the mercy of the weather, but this can actually be beneficial to your overall fitness. Wind, heat or cold are all external factors that make your body work harder at trying to regulate normal bodily processes. In doing so, your muscles, cardiovascular system and continued motivation all have to work that much harder, challenging you more than ever before.
Personally, I think if you can run outdoor – do it. It gives your body more than a physical workout, but a mental break from the everyday scenery. Running in general boosts serotonin – the happy chemical your brain produces – and increases mental stamina by increasing blood flow to the furthest parts of your brain. It also decreases the risk of disease (including type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers) making it one of the best options for the fitness and longevity of your mind and body.
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