It’s a common question and despite conflicting opinions, scientific research has shown that running on the treadmill is roughly the same as running outside if you make a few simple adjustments.
In fact, there are some types of workouts you can do better on a treadmill than you can outside.
However, running on a treadmill does have its disadvantages, and for some runners, a mile on the “hamster wheel” feels like ten miles outdoors.
We need to find out if running outside is better for us than running on a treadmill, or is it the other way around?
On one hand, with a treadmill, the belt is moving under you and there is no wind resistance for your body to counter, so it should be easier to run.
Theoretically, you could jump up and down on a treadmill and it would record that you’re running at whatever speed the belt is moving.
Outside, your legs have to propel your motion forward while pushing through the resulting wind resistance (however minor it may be).
Luckily, scientific research has proven that setting the treadmill to a 1% grade accurately reflects the energy costs and simulates outdoor running.
Therefore, by setting the treadmill to a 1% grade, you can offset the lack of wind resistance and the belt moving under you to make treadmill running the same effort as running outdoors.
Corroborating research has shown that VO2 max is the same when running on a treadmill compared to outside, clearly demonstrating that running on a treadmill is as effective as running outside.
Furthermore, research reveals that bio-mechanical patterns did not change when test subjects ran on a treadmill versus when they ran outside.