Does running on a treadmill provide the same workout as running outdoors?
BY: Daryn Eller
The workout you get on a treadmill is different from the one you get outdoors -- and that’s both a good and a bad (but not too bad) thing. One of the reasons you burn calories when running is that you expend energy propelling your body mass forward, explains Timothy E. Hewett, Ph.D., director of the Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. On a treadmill, of course, you don’t push yourself forward, so when all things are equal --speed, time and incline -- you’ll burn about 30 percent fewer calories.
On the other hand, running on the moving, shock-absorbent rubber mat of a treadmill is kinder to the joints. “When you hit the ground, the ground hits you back with a force about two to three times your body weight,” says Hewett. “But on a treadmill, there’s more give.” One other edge treadmill-running has over ground-running is that you don’t have to go searching for hills to work out on an incline. And running on an incline not only burns more calories than running on a flat surface (how many depends on how steep you go), it works the butt and hamstring muscles harder. So tilt your treadmill, and you may get just as hard of a workout as you would outdoors -- with less wear-and-tear on your joints.
Daryn Eller is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well and has written for O, Prevention, Health and Natural Health magazines. She lives in Venice, Calif.