Benefits of Treadmill Running

Top reasons to run on a treadmill

What do you need to know about the benefits and risks of treadmill running? What are the advantages and disadvantages of running on a treadmill compared with running outside?

Often times we hear first of the disadvantages of running on a treadmill. It can be boring. Why not go outside and make your run more scenic? If you focus on these thoughts, it's easy to lose your motivation before you ever get started.

Instead, what are the benefits and advantages of running inside? Let's talk about several reasons why running on a treadmill indoors can beat running outside in the elements.


Treadmill Running Can Be Easier on Your Body

Mid adult woman running on treadmill in gym
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Relative to pavement—whether concrete or asphalt—treadmills offer better shock absorption. Better shock absorption is translated into less stress on your feet and knees. In addition, the extra cushioning and smooth surface of a treadmill also allow for easier runs.

Many of us have heard of friends with "runner's knee" or patellofemoral pain syndrome. And we know that too much running can lead to injury. You probably also know of someone who is no longer able to run due to these injuries.​​

Recent evidence suggests, however, that runners may not risk arthritis as previously thought. At least if people have a normal body mass index (BMI) and have no history of knee injuries.

While this is a good sign, the non-arthritis side effects of running on concrete and asphalt can be limiting to both those who have problematic knees and legs and those who do not.


You Don't Have to Worry About Weather

Running in bad weather, such as heavy rain or snow, can be very unpleasant. Even when being careful running on snow and ice, injuries still occur.

Running in hot weather can also be dangerous, and sometimes results in dehydration or heat exhaustion.

Running in the comfort of a temperature-controlled environment, however, can solve these problems. Not only do you avoid the risks, but you don't have to plan ahead to make sure you aren't over or ​underdressing.

And you don't even need to worry about applying sunscreen!


You Can Simulate Race Courses

If you live in a very flat area and you're training for a hilly marathon, you can still run hills on the treadmill. You can even plan your hills for certain points during your run, so you can prepare yourself for the same type of course on race day.

Check out our example of a treadmill hill workout to see how this is done.


You Can Simulate Race Conditions

If you're training for a warm weather race but you live in a cold climate, you can run on a treadmill to get acclimatized to a warm environment.

You can also try out race day outfits, so you're not wearing shorts or another item of clothing for the first time on race day.


It's Safer Than Running Outside

Running indoors on a treadmill means you don't have to deal with potential hazards of running outside, such as falls, cars, cyclists, dogs, and other attackers.

If you don't have a running partner or group to run outside with, running on a treadmill is a safer alternative than running alone outside.


You Can Control Your Pace

When running outside, some runners have a hard time maintaining a consistent pace and end up running faster or slower than they wanted.

The treadmill makes it easy to track your mileage and pace.


You Can Multi-Task

Running on a treadmill provides the opportunity to multi-task. Unlike running outdoors, it's safe to use headphones and listen to music or audiobooks, watch television, or flip through a magazine while you're running on the treadmill.

This can be a huge advantage.

You can also brainstorm other ideas to beat boredom on the treadmill.


Treadmill Running Is Convenient

Convenience plays a huge role in our lives. All you need to do is look at the drive-through lane at your nearest fast food establishment.

Treadmills offer more convenience than running outside. You can run inside when it's late at night or pouring rain. Moms and dads can run at home without having to pay a babysitter.


Hill Training on a Treadmill Can Be Easier on Your Body

When you're running hills outside, you're running both uphill and downhill. But when running hills on a treadmill, you get all the strength and endurance-building benefits of uphill training without the downhills, which are a lot harder on your body.


Bottom Line on the Benefits of Treadmill Running

As noted above and despite the opinions that claim treadmill running is boring, there are many benefits and advantages of running in a controlled environment indoors.

One disadvantage we neglected to mention is that running in nature may generate greater happiness. A 2017 study, however, found a way to overcome this disadvantage. Treadmill runners who were allowed to view a static or dynamic nature image while running were happier and more excited following the completion of their runs. Perhaps you can hang a picture of your favorite out-of-doors location on the wall by your treadmill, or play nature videos on a nearby TV or even your phone.

Regardless of whether your run indoors or outdoors, safety is important. Take a moment to learn about the 5 habits of successful runners.

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