My city has an absolutely fantastic park, and there’s a long track that extends from it along the edge of the town. It’s a gorgeous, tree-lined path perfect for everything from walking your dog to riding a bike to running.
Now that the temperatures are calming down a little here on the east coast (I’ve been waking up to 70-degree temperatures instead of 90), I’m moving some of my workouts outside again and, if you haven’t already guessed, that means hitting this track every morning.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m no stranger to treadmill walking and I know there are lots of great treadmill workouts out there. I also know that for some, treadmills are the only option for walking, jogging, or running.
However, for me, when it comes to walking on a treadmill vs. outside walking (or running!), I’m going to choose outside workouts every time.
1. Fresh Air
Which would you rather inhale while you’re jogging: The fresh, clean air of a wooded area, or the sweaty stank of the stranger on the treadmill beside you?
When you have an outdoor fitness routine, you rarely have to deal with funky smells (and, even if there are some, you just breeze right past them.)
At my previous home, I positioned my treadmill in front of a window.
Exciting stuff, let me tell you.
Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter – the city or the country – the changing scenery keeps things interesting.
3. Connect with Your Environment
Outdoor exercise helps you connect with your environment. For some of you, that’s the soft soil beneath your feet; for others, it’s the skyscraper trees lining your path. Some of us look at mountains; others hear the ocean.
Whatever your environment, when you workout with it, you become one with it.
4. Connect with Your Community
You might walk through a park, jog on a trail, or bike on a path. Whatever you choose, you’re taking advantage of the perks your community works to offer.
Plus, you’re probably interacting with others. Even if it’s just a smile as you pass each other, you’ll feel more connected with your community than you would jogging on a machine in front of a mirror, and that connectedness feeling goes a long, long way.
5. Gain Confidence
Getting out there can be scary – especially if you’ve spent the past few months working out in the comfort of your own climate-controlled apartment. You think everyone’s staring at you – drivers, bikers, other walkers and runners – and you feel a little (or a lot!) self-conscious.
Yet, after you force yourself to get out there, get out there again, and get out there again, soon all those people around you are just people, doing the same thing (mostly) that you’re doing. No one’s concerned with what you’re wearing or how hard you’re breathing or how far you were able to run before you had to start walking again, and even if someone is concerned, you don’t care anymore, because you’re doing your thing.
That realization builds confidence, and that confidence shines through other areas of your life.
6. Save Money
Treadmill prices can range from a few hundred dollars to more than a grand. Gym memberships might seem less expensive, but after a few months or a year, you’ve paid the same amount you would have for a treadmill.
I’m not knocking gym memberships by any means (I live two blocks from my city’s YMCA and I’ve been considering joining for a little while), but I am saying that if you want to save money (or just don’t want to pay money to exercise), get your butt outside.
7. Get a Better Workout
Okay, this one’s undoubtedly up for debate and I’m sure it depends on the kind of workout you’re actually trying to get.
Personally, I think I get a better workout outside. Not only does my body have to adjust – and keep adjusting – the the changing terrain, but also, it’s not as easy to just quit because I get a little tired. (Actually, I can’t just quit – how would I get home?)
However, people have varying opinions. Over at the Fitness.com Fitness Forum, for example, there’s a Running on a Track vs. Running on a Treadmill thread where members sound off on the differences between the two. They talk about everything from the surfaces to force exertion to your “groove.”
(You might want to also check out Run to Win’s Track vs. Treadmill: What’s the Difference? for some seriously helpful information on the pros and cons of each, as they relate to your needs and goals.)
How about you, readers? Do you prefer to walk, jog, or run on a treadmill or outside on a track or path? Why?