Is It Better to Run Indoors or Out?

Just look at these pictures: where would you rather run???As a Houston podiatrist, I often get asked this question: should I run outdoors or on the treadmill? Well, I just came across an amazing breakdown from CNN that pointed me straight towards the proper answer: outside is best, by all accounts. Lucky for us Texans, year-round outdoor training is a very real possibility.

Here’s how the two break down in comparison:

Calories burned per hour
Outdoors: 970. Indoors: 661.
Winner: Outdoors.

Average heart rate
Outdoors:163. Indoors: 129.
Winner: Outdoors.

Risk of injury
You’re more likely to get injured running on a treadmill than outside. On the treadmill you repeat almost exactly the same motion with every strep, upping your risk for overuse injuries like shin splints. Outside, you’re forced to use different muscles as you run over varying terrain and adjust for curbs and incline increases.  The more muscles involved in your run, the less likely it is that any one part will incur damage. Additionally, treadmill injuries accounted for 24,400 emergency room visits in 2014 (and even killed Dave Goldberg, former husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Winner: Outdoors.

Fun factor
Studies show that running outside increases your feelings of well-being and decreases depression, stress and anxiety. Also, outdoor runners are more likely to train with a friend, while treadmill addicts often run alone, making exercise monotonous and less of a lifestyle boost.
Winner: Outdoors.

There you have it: outdoor running pretty much trounces gym jogs in every way possible. Get your sneakers and get outside!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.