Treadmill or Road: Which is the Best?

Treadmill or Road: Which is the Best?

Most runners will have a clear preference for either treadmill or road when it comes to where they like running best. 

For some, being able to set a constant pace and elevation means that they find a treadmill the best option. For others, the freedom and explorative nature of running outdoors means they prefer road (or pavement) running. But which one is actually the best? 

Treadmill: Advantages and Disadvantages

For many people, a treadmill trumps running outside because you do not have to brave the weather. From boiling hot to freezing cold and all the other conditions in between, you can bet that what is happening outdoors will have an impact on how you run. Running in a gym on a treadmill has the benefit of maintaining a regular temperature as most have aircon as standard. 

Running can have a significant impact on your joints, particularly your knees. The cushioned surface of a treadmill lessens that and means you are less at risk of shin splints of other running related conditions.

Having the ability to see how long you have been running, a calorie burn and mileage can be incredibly motivating for many people. Furthermore, it’s possible to adjust speed and incline, making your workout easier or more challenging literally at the touch of a button (or two). 

Interval training is a terrific way of improving your running technique and ability. Most treadmills have several settings, making it much easier. 

If you live somewhere hilly or perhaps find it difficult to leave the house because of childcare, for example, having a treadmill at home can be a blessing, allowing you to run regardless of the outside terrain or what is happening in another room. 

Unfortunately, the treadmill is also a challenge for many. The aforementioned ability to see speed, distance and calories burnt can have a detrimental effect on motivation. It can feel as though the minutes and miles are going ever so slowly, dragging significantly. Some people find it boring, too, with the same wall to look at the entire duration of the run. 

Finally, the type of treadmill you invest in or use at the gym can impact your run. Some are less conducive to a successful run. If you are training for a race, the treadmill does not replicate the conditions that you are likely to face on race day, so it’s not ideal. 

road running

Road: Advantages and Disadvantages

Running and walking, even jeffing, outside means that a greater number of muscles will be used because of the terrain. As a result, more calories can be burnt using this method, helping you to maintain or lose weight if that is your aim.

If you live somewhere rural, it can be challenging finding a route that is safe. You will likely need to invest in more running gear, such as reflective tops and head torches, to ensure that you are visible whether it is dull and dreary or night-time. 

Running outside can offer you a greater variety compared to the treadmill. It can be a much more sociable activity, running with a friend or with a running group. 

You can also increase and decrease your pace as you wish, without relying on pushing a button.


Both the treadmill and the road offer a lot in terms of boosting your health and fitness levels. However, depending on the reasons why you run, either can be best. There is no hard and fast answer to this question. There is a reason why experts cannot agree on the answer and runners frequently argue about this very subject. 

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