Does Running on a Treadmill Burn More Calories than Outside?

Studies show that there may be a slight caloric advantage to outside running.

There’s no doubt about it: Treadmill running is convenient. Rain, sleet, snow or shine – treadmill runners are untouched by weather conditions (unless, of course, you lose power). But for people looking to lose weight, how does the calorie burn of treadmills compare to running outside?

There have been a number of studies comparing treadmill running to outside running. The studies generally find outdoor running to be slightly advantageous when it comes to calories, though the extent of this advantage varies by speed. For individuals running between 5 and 9 miles per hour, running outside burns somewhere between 0% and 5% more calories. For individuals running at 10 miles per hour and above, running outside burns up to 10% more calories.

If you burn 400 calories inside, it would likely require an additional 0 – 40 calories (depending on your speed) to replicate the same workout outside. All in all, the difference is quite slight – but even small changes add up over time.

Treadmill running burns fewer calories because it’s easier. For one, the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. When you run outside, you must propel your body forward to move. Moreover, when you run outside, you experience wind resistance – a condition that isn’t replicated with treadmill running. To account for these differences and better simulate outdoors running (especially if you are training for an outdoor running event), many people add a 1% to 2% incline on the treadmill.

The bottom line: Regardless of calories, select the type of training that works best for you, your schedule and your personality. Treadmill running isn’t for everyone; many people find it monotonousness and mind-numbing. Likewise, people with joint issues may prefer the extra cushion provided by treadmill running. Whether you do it outside or indoors, running can be a great way to get your cardiovascular exercise.

About Davey Wavey

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  1. Mel Marcelo says:

    I absolutely love running outdoors since you can motivate yourself to run even more simply by turning a new corner to explore a new path. There’s also a bigger element of surprise– you can see or meet someone new by chance and the odds of that happening are greater outdoors. Umm…can you tell I love to run…outdoors?

  2. What do you think about those five fingers foot gloves for running?

  3. …and why does the treadmill tell me I’ve burned a lot more calories than I did on the Stair Master in the same amount of time? I barely break a sweat on the treadmill, but I’m soaking wet when I finish the Stair Master.

    • I think Davey did an article a while back on the relationship between sweating and calorie burning.

  4. Most people on treadmills tend to run on the same plane throughout. While outdoors, unless maybe you live in Indiana or Iowa, there are going to be some hills (excluding running tracks which aren’t any better for you than treadmills). Changing the incline as you go has many benefits, including more calorie burning and fewer repetitive stress injuries.

  5. christopher says:

    i beleive that treadmill is good if not better than outdoors.3.3-3.5 a jog-4mph-6km-is a nice run and ive been sweating since religiously using treadmill-with a 2%incline.what should be noted-that just last Sunday on Yahoo-a study was done that by not holding onto handlebars or grabbing onto machine-you burn-35% more calories-where they got 35% more calories-is in the midwest-treadmill is the alternative to ice and snow-plus there is sometimes good scenery at the gym-just a thought.

  6. idiotgear says:

    Running either way to me is hellish but i say outdoors is harder.

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  1. […] if you used it indoors, it would just be the same, wouldn't it? Add your own answer in the comments! Question by Gleek: What would happen if you used an outdoor treadmill indoors? I have a treadmill t…indoors? SPAM WILL BE REPORTED. Ohh, thanks Monte P, I didn't know that. I feel really dumb, lol. I […]