Running is one of the easiest ways to exercise as it requires no specialized equipment, and we oftentimes recommend running programs to athletes or individuals who are training for a half or full marathon. Some people love to take their run outdoors, while others prefer to jump on a treadmill from the comfort of their home. Is one technique better than the other? We explore the pros and cons of running indoors or outdoors in today’s blog.
Let’s start by taking a look at outdoor running. Running outdoors can be extremely enjoyable when the conditions are ideal, and this can make it easier to complete your run. You can take in some of Minnesota’s natural beauty by running on one of the countless nature trails, and all this fresh air is great for your lungs and your heart. Also, running outdoors allows you to run up and down hills. Running on an incline or decline will help to develop different muscle groups and better prepare you for what you might encounter during an outdoor race, like the Twin Cities Marathon.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to outdoor running, especially in Minnesota. If the weather isn’t complying or it changes on a moment’s notice, you may find yourself running in less-than-ideal conditions. There’s also the issue of safety. If you’re running in the city, you need to be hyper aware of your surroundings so that you don’t step out into traffic when a vehicle decides to make a turn. If you like to run while listening to music or a podcast, running indoors can allow you to become more engaged with what you’re listening to because you won’t be watching for traffic.
And while running on an incline can help to develop new muscles, outdoor running can be a little harder on your body. You’re more likely to sprain your ankle or trip and fall when running on uneven surfaces or on a nature trail, and if you’re running on sidewalks or other concrete surfaces, the impact you experience will be a little harder on your joints than if you were running on a treadmill or indoor track. If you have joint issues, it may be wise to run on a more protective surface.
Indoor running can be the perfect way to get your run in at any time of day in any weather condition. If it’s raining outside or the baby is down for a nap, you can jump on a treadmill and get your run in with ease. You can also safely listen to music or a podcast, or you can catch up on a television series if your treadmill is near a TV.
Running indoors can also be beneficial for your health. As we mentioned above, you’re much less likely to be struck by a vehicle when you’re running indoors, and you have a reduced risk of injury because you’re running on a more ideal surface. Indoor running surfaces are also softer than many outdoor surfaces, which helps to protect your joint health. With that said, tens of thousands of runners still end up injured every year during an indoor run. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly 25,000 people are injured on treadmills each year, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll be safe on a treadmill.
There are other potential drawbacks of running on a treadmill as well. As we mentioned above, unless you have a high-tech treadmill, you aren’t going to be able to run both uphill and downhill on a treadmill, which means you can’t test different muscle groups as easily or best prepare for race conditions. Treadmill running can also be extremely boring, even when you’re listening to music or watching television. This can make it harder for you to finish your run or find the motivation to jump on your treadmill and get your exercise in for the day.
Simply put, both indoor and outdoor running have their own benefits and drawbacks, and it’s really up to you to decide what’s right for your situation. Some people love running indoors, while others only want to run outside, and that’s fine so long as you are aware of the potential risks associated with each. If you have specific physical issues that need to be accounted for during your run, consider connecting with a physical therapist to develop a running program that is right for you. If you want to develop that program, or you want a professional to analyze and improve your running form, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.