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Which is Better: The Treadmill or the Road?

By Sara Butler

When it comes to walking or running, there are two types of people: Those who swear by the treadmill and those who will do nothing but work out on the road (or sidewalk, or walking trail). But is there really a difference between the two? If you’re going to work out, are you cheating yourself by using a treadmill? Here are the pros and cons of each so the debate can be settled once and for all!

The Surface

On a treadmill, you run or walk on one even surface – the treadmill belt. This is a good thing because it’s flat and has a little bit of give for your joints. But even with an incline, the treadmill does not provide the same variability or challenge for your muscles that working out on outdoor surfaces does.

When you run or walk outside on the road, sidewalk, or trail, your body has to deal with the variability in slope and terrain. But the real downer is that running on these hard surfaces with no give can really put you at high risk for injury, particularly to your joints. If you have bad knees, the treadmill will be kinder to them.

The Climate

Of course, one of the best things about running or walking on a treadmill is the climate – it’s controlled! You don’t have to deal with rain, wind, snow, or variable temperatures because it’s always a mild temperature at the gym. The only thing treadmill exercisers miss out on is the sunshine and the Vitamin D it provides.

When the weather is nice outside, it can be very difficult to resist taking your workout outside. But when the weather is bad and poses a risk to your safety, that treadmill starts to look pretty good! Working out in extreme temperatures has a lot of risks, so make sure you remember to put safety first and choose the venue that will keep you safest.

The Fun

A lot of people who exercise on treadmills depend on televisions or music to entertain them because, let’s face it, the treadmill isn’t exactly the most entertaining piece of equipment in the world. But treadmills do provide different workouts with varying speed and incline to help take you out of your routine.

When you’re outside there’s a lot to see and observe. You can people-watch at a park or just enjoy the changing scenery. Many people who work out outside don’t use music to keep them entertained, they simply enjoy the rush of the wind in their hair and use the time to focus on what they’re doing. It can be quite relaxing and almost Zen-like.

As you can see, there’s no clear winner in the treadmill versus outdoor debate, but just many factors you have to consider in order to get the best workout for you!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lynnwood, Wash.


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