Running is perhaps the best possible form of physical activity. It is the most similar activity to the human natural way of movement. If you are not heavily overweight and don’t have joints pain or damage, this is probably the very best choice for you too. Both the ultra runners, the professionals and the amateurs, common people who wish to exercise are often undecided between running on a treadmill and running outdoors and they usually look for professional answers. All experiments, scientific papers and experience show that running on a treadmill is easier and requires less energy than running outdoors.
What is the mechanism behind it?
The less energy statement is especially true when running at higher speeds. One of the reasons for this is the resistance force that increases with the speed of movement. Furthermore, the difference in oxygen consumption has not yet been sufficiently explored, which leads us to conclude that the greater the mechanical work we perform, the greater the energy consumption.
Therefore, if we want to objectively look at the differences between the treadmill and outdoors running, we need to know something about the forces in these two types of running and the role of gravity.
When running outdoors, we must use force larger than the force of gravity to run or to stop our body. When running on a treadmill, we must wait for the machine to start moving. This is the biggest difference between these two running types.
How do the muscles react?
The next thing to observe is the difference in work of the muscles. On a treadmill, our main task is to keep the upper part of our body in sync with our feet following the machine. When running outdoors, our main task is to “catch” the upper part of our body and stop the excessive body movements regardless of the terrain configuration. These two things are completely different both physiologically and psychologically. Obviously, the second case is much more demanding and it therefore, somewhat unexpectedly, represents the better choice for endurance running.
Despite the further-faster-forever imperatives imposed on the sportists, we can conclude that running outdoors is the better choice. Last, but not the least reason for this statement is the fresh air consumption and the air resistance. In these ways, outdoors running increases your endurance, lung capacity and strength better than the treadmill running.