Treadmill Vs. Outdoor Running

Treadmill San Antonio Running Club

Torturing yourself on a treadmill....

Why you should get off that “Torture Machine” and start running outside.

That treadmill feel a bit like a torture device lately? Hmmm, I wonder why? That’s because the treadmill we know today was founded as a torture machine in 1818 by a Sir William Cubbit.

Cubbit, an english engineer, designed the “treadmill” as a device to take the energy of prisoners and put it to use. The original treadmill was a 24 spoke paddle board wheel that prisoners would push down like a common day stair climber. The motion was used to pump water to the facility or to crush grain, thus the name “TreadMILL”

Now, as much as we sometimes feel that jumping on that treadmill for our cardio day is indeed torture, we have a few things to be thankful for. First, we don’t have a guard at our back torturing us, and secondly we always have the beautiful outdoors. And quite honestly this is where we should be spending our time running in the first place.

So why should we be running outdoors?

Running outdoors has a number of health benefits, and in the true nature of whole body health and fitness, the outdoors is where you should be clocking those miles. Running outdoors teaches your body how to use core muscles, hips, and leg muscles that do not get used when running on a treadmill. This happens as you reach constant changing variables that are found in nature, i.e. a slight slope causing an incline or decline in your run, or a small pebble that you step on causing your body to engage these muscles to keep your balance. These elements are what we call “resistance” and are integral for longevity and avoiding injury throughout your pursuit of fitness. Being that a treadmill is a flat and an unchanging surface, it functions for one purpose only and does not mix up how your body is worked.

Functionality of outdoors vs. a treadmill -

A treadmill is constantly pushing forward at a steady pace. While this is a great feature when teaching your body how to pace out a run for a certain number of miles, this is also a let down once you make it outside. A treadmill’s constant forward pace assists the leg in turnover “the push motion of a run” as the ground underneath you is moving. But how does this assistance correlate to running in real life? Many runners will find that their 7 minute pace on a treadmill turns into a 8 and a half minute pace on race day. Due to the movement of the belt, runners who have not done their due diligence of strength training and running outside have major difficulties transitioning to the outdoors as the muscles now have to finish the turnover movement all on their own. This is taxing on the runners legs in a whole new way, making that 5k feel like a 10k. Running on a treadmill does not account for changes in slope nor does it teach you how to run against the wind or any other weather factors like rain, snow or intense heat.

Running outdoors for your heart and mind -

Beyond the natural Mood Booster (Vitamin C) you receive from spending just 15 minutes outside, running outdoors is also putting you back in connection with nature for a moment. Many people find that their stress is greatly decreased when they unplug from the go-go-go of today’s world and focus on their fitness outdoors.

Treadmills are no longer a torture device. Treadmills do have their time and place, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should go out and burn all the treadmills. But I do hope next time you go to run you think of the benefits your workout can bring from the great outdoors.

By: Intern Personal Trainer, Marshall San Miguel

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