Jogging on the Treadmill Vs. on the Road

Jogging on the Treadmill Vs. on the Road

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Don't forget to hydrate during an indoor jog.

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The treadmill offers convenience and practicality for joggers who can't get outside to work out. However, jogging on a treadmill differs from road jogging, both physically and mentally. With a proper understanding of the differences, you can choose which terrain is best for your needs and how to adjust your jog to meet your fitness goals.

Wind Resistance

When you jog on the road, you experience wind resistance. Indoors on a treadmill, the lack of this wind resistance makes your jog slightly easier. To make up for this indoor advantage, running coach Greg McMillan recommends setting you treadmill's incline to about 1 percent.


A treadmill offers a cushier surface than concrete or paved outdoor roads, making it easier on your joints. If you jog on a treadmill in the winter, but plan to go outside in warmer weather, make the change in terrain gradually. If you switch all of your indoor jogs to road jogs suddenly, you could put undue stress on your joints and experience knee pain, shin splints or Achilles tendinitis.


When you jog outdoors, your feet push against the ground to move you forward. In contrast, a treadmill belt runs under you, potentially resulting in a different stride. You may lean forward from the waist to maintain the pace of the belt or bounce up and down off the belt's surface. When jogging on the treadmill, concentrate on good form by emphasizing an upright posture and a slight lean forward from the ankles. Pick your feet up fully off the treadmill and land the ball of your foot underneath your hips.

Terrain Changes

A treadmill offers a smooth, unchanging terrain. On the road, you could encounter divots, potholes and hills, all of which make you constantly alter your footplant. The predictability of the treadmill can make your jogs easier than they might feel outdoors. You may be less likely to trip or lose your balance on the treadmill because each footplant is the same. Although the actual effort may be easier on the treadmill, you may grow bored and feel like you are working harder when you jog indoors. In 2013, "Extreme Physiology and Medicine" published a study showing that exercise outdoors may feel easier and boost your mood better than an indoor jog.


Treadmill jogging can be done at pretty much any time of day without worry about the weather or lighting. You are always near a restroom and will never find yourself too far from home. If you jog with a friend who is significantly faster or slower, you can still run side-by-side without compromising your workout. Despite its advantages, you may find it easier to give up on a treadmill workout. You may grow bored after a few miles while out on the road you may become engrossed in a specific route.


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