Pure Pedantry

Thank you, NYTimes, for clarifying something I have always wondered about: how does running outside compare to running on a treadmill?

A number of studies have shown that in general, outdoor running burns about 5 percent more calories than treadmills do, in part because there is greater wind resistance and no assistance from the treadmill belt. Some studies show, for example, that when adults are allowed to set their own paces on treadmills and on tracks, they move more slowly and with shorter strides when they train on treadmills.

I will say that in my case outside running burns more calories because I go much farther. Running on a treadmill bores me to death, so I don’t do it.


  1. #1 Eileen
    May 8, 2008

    I tried balancing running with more swimming a month ago. Could not do it: every time a runner passed me on the sidewalk, I couldn’t wait for my next run. Since my town is basically bi-level – one big hill, with a harbour at the bottom – outdoor running is very challenging. It kinda sucks…and now excuse me as I go for a run.

  2. #2 microbiologychick
    May 8, 2008

    Well, that’s good to know, but ultimately doesn’t matter to me. It’s too hot to run in the daytime most of the time (in the South), and too dangerous for a woman to run at night.

  3. #3 Becca
    May 8, 2008

    Good to know. Of course, I wonder whether it would be more than a 5% difference for me personally- since I won’t use the incline on a treadmill but live in a moderately hilly area. Still, 5% is not worth the increase risk of problems with heat and roughness on my knees a lot of the time.

  4. #4 co-blogger kate
    May 14, 2008

    I once fell off the end of a treadmill.

    I was training for a marathon, so I can blame it on being distracted by my newfound ability to read entire books while running indoors. It was still embarrassing.

    Hadn’t seen this study – thanks for the link 🙂

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