The benefits of walking encouraged some of us to kickstart daily walking routines by taking the longer way to the office or home while some prefer to do it on a treadmill. Which one has the most advantage though on this walking outside vs treadmill debate? Let us discuss the benefits of those modalities more and see if indeed, one trumps the other when it comes to health and fitness goals.

Have Feet, Will Walk For Health And Fitness

So where is exactly the best place to walk, outdoors or the treadmill?

The thing is, the answer remains subjective since all of us have different needs and preferences. Thus, there are no clear-cut answers to this debate. There are reasons why one person finds walking outdoors more therapeutic and effective for his or her health while the treadmill is the option for some due to practical reasons.

Regardless, walking remains to be one of the simplest and most viable exercises today and done regularly, giving plenty of benefits. Walking for half an hour every day for a week can help improve blood sugar and blood pressure levels and it can also burn you some calories.

What makes walking outdoors the best thing for some fitness buffs though? Why is the treadmill still popular for more than 3 decades? Let us delve into this matter and get into the heart of this dilemma.

The Pros And Cons Of Walking Outside

Walking outdoors is an easy and cheap yet effective way of keeping yourself fit and healthy. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of outdoor walks.

The Pros

1. It’s easy to fit into your schedule.

The best thing about walking outdoors is that you can easily fit the activity into your daily plans. Depending on the distance between your workplace and your home, you can walk your way to the office. You can also park your car a block away from your workplace. If you use public transport, you can get off the train or subway one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way home.

2. Great for weight management.

Walking for 15 minutes with steady paces clocking in at 3 mph helps burn 60 to 70 calories based on your weight. This might not sound much, however, it totals to 300 calories if done for 5 working days. It will add up if you walk during the weekends as well.

3. It gets the circulatory system going.

The heart rate can increase while walking and facilitates the blood to move throughout the body. When this happens, you get more oxygen inside the body while excesses like carbon dioxide are eliminated. A robust circulatory system lowers risks of heart disease like stroke, plus it also lowers blood pressure and LDL (bad cholesterol).

4. You will get plenty of fresh air.

Breathing in outdoor air actually helps the brain since a good amount of oxygen is crucial for better neuron function. Outdoor walking is especially beneficial for those working inside stuffy offices.

5. It improves your mood.

Enthusiasts of the great outdoors, when asked about the walking outside vs treadmill battle, often choose the former since the sight of nature improves their mood. Walking outside also helps clear the mind and rid it of anxieties.

6. Provides Vitamin D.

Walking in the morning between 8 to 10 AM whenever the sun is out provides a dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the body since it helps protect the brain’s neurons and it also lowers inflammation.

The Cons

1. No-go in bad weather.

Rain, blustery winds, fog and snow can put a crimp in your daily walking plans. Thus, outdoor walking is not ideal for rainy, stormy or snowy seasons.

2. Harder, craggier terrain.

Concrete surfaces can do a number on the joints so if you have problems in those parts, avoid those surfaces and if possible, opt for dirt terrain, pea gravel or asphalt surfaces.

3. Safety concerns.

Lack of a sidewalk, dogs walking around, motorists and cyclists – these factors can hamper daily walks.

The Pros And Cons Of Walking On Treadmill

Let us continue discussing each modality’s benefits – this time, we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of walking on the treadmill.

The Pros

1. It’s extremely convenient.

The treadmill is celebrated by many because it offers many fitness and health enthusiasts the opportunity to keep themselves fit and strong regardless of the weather or occasion. It’s for people who do not have enough time to go to a gym. Treadmills are also easy to use and the models often include safety features.

2. It improves better balance.

With harder terrain to deal with outdoors, walking on a treadmill makes for an easy exercise since you don’t need to deal with a lot of friction. Thus, you can improve your balance. To do this, try interchanging between backward and forward walking.

3. Works out certain muscle groups.

Walking on a treadmill daily works out specific body parts – these include the hamstrings, ankles, glutes, hips, core and quads. If you want a more challenging workout, you can also adjust the incline.

4. Makes joints stronger.

Are walking on a treadmill and walking outside better than running? Running is a great exercise, however, due to the irregularities in the ground surface, the activity can harm the joints. Walking or running on a treadmill is an excellent alternative for those with joint conditions since the equipment allows better control of the pace and steps that the user takes. Treadmill belts are also gentler on the joints compared to concrete surfaces or rugged terrain.

The Cons

1. Few downhill options.

Many treadmills feature incline adjustments for more strenuous workouts. However, these devices do not include downhill features, which you can easily encounter outdoors. Walking or running downhill helps reinforce body parts in the legs’ front and back, called the soleus muscles and the anterior tibialis muscles.

2. Invest more.

Incorporating the treadmill in your fitness routine means you either have to spend money on a gym membership or purchase a unit for home use. Outdoor walking and running are free.

How Long Should People Walk For Fitness?

It is completely up to the person how long they want to walk to keep themselves fit and healthy. You can opt for a spell outside or on the treadmill. You can also choose more challenging, lengthier workouts by picking rougher terrain or increasing incline levels on the mill.

Treadmill and walking outside better move the body and stop harmful sedentary habits. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, one needs to undergo 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week for fitness and health. Take a walk for an hour to tone your legs and keep your heart exercised. Take 5-minute walks daily during a working week to clear your mind and free yourself from stress.

Outdoor Walking And Treadmill Safety Tips

Avoid discomfort and injury while walking outside or using the treadmill by keeping these tips in mind.

Walking Outside

  • Invest in proper shoes
  • Use good posture
  • Walk along sidewalks
  • Do not text while walking
  • Wear reflective clothing or clothes with bright colours
  • Don’t walk during extreme weather

Using The Treadmill

  • Leave room for the equipment
  • Use the treadmill’s safety features
  • Straddle the belt whenever you switch on the treadmill
  • Always keep your head up when walking or running
  • Do not step away from a moving treadmill
  • Reduce distractions during your routines
  • Maintain the equipment regularly to preserve functionality


So, do treadmills rank better than outdoor walking? Are using treadmills and walking outside better compared to other exercises? Then again, it is up to people to decide which works best for them. Both modalities offer advantages that can help boost health and keep the body fit. As exercises, they are as good as any of the others! So long as you are moving your body, keeping your heart rate up and sweating, you are doing fitness right.

1. Why do my knees hurt when running on the treadmill?

Sometimes, the knees hurt due to higher inclines. If you want challenging treadmill routines, opt for smaller inclines to make the routine gentler on the joints. A moderate incline of 3% is enough to burn calories and train the body for endurance.

2. Should I wear a weighted vest when using a treadmill?

Using a weighted vest while running on a treadmill boosts the workout’s intensity and in turn, increases the heart rate, caloric expenditure and consumption of oxygen. The use of a weighted vest also makes for a welcome addition to your usual treadmill routine since it provides muscle conditioning and increases bone mass for fracture prevention.

3. Do you run faster on a treadmill?

Since you do not need to deal with wind resistance and other outdoor-related factors when using treadmills, yes, you will run slightly faster while on the machine. Treadmills also offer shock resistance compared to ground surfaces so there’s less impact on the joints. Thus you’ll be able to run comfortably and get to dash at a moderately quicker pace.

Emma Pyke
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