Debate: Treadmill vs. the Great Outdoors

by Nikky Manausa on January 16, 2010

Hopefully after reading this, you will find your motivation to get going!

Treadmill Pros:

  • The weather is never a factor
  • The treadmill will keep your pace
  • You can look at yourself in the mirror, which in my case, keeps me going (“must lose the jiggle, must lose the jiggle”)
  • Some treadmills have built in fans
  • Climate control (AKA air conditioned workout!)
  • You can run with a buddy together, but at different paces
  • Treadmills absorb the shock
  • You can watch TV
  • You do not have to wear sunscreen
  • If you are really talented, you can read a book
  • No exhaust fumes to worry about
  • If you become ill, you have immediate refuge
  • You do not have to carry a water bottle
  • Time of day does not matter
  • Tracks your distance
  • Shows you the calories being burned (my personal favorite!)

Treadmill Cons

  • Incredibly boring
  • People stare at you
  • You can see the jiggle (see comment in pros)
  • People can see the jiggle!
  • If you press the wrong button, the treadmill might stop on you or lose your stats
  • The person next to you might smell
  • The person next to you might make you feel inferior
  • If you are using a treadmill at the gym, you actually have to factor in the time it takes to get to the gym and back
  • You cannot bring your kids or dogs with you on the treadmill (although the “Dog Whisperer”, Cesar Millan, might disagree)
  • It’s too easy to be lazy and quit when you are tired
  • You watch every tenth of mile which sometimes seems to go by too slowly

Exercising Outside Pros

  • You can take your family (and pets)
  • If you are pushing a stroller, you are burning extra calories
  • You do not have to drive anywhere
  • Fresh air
  • Scenery
  • If you run races, it’s more realistic training
  • Natural wind
  • You can explore new routes to keep things interesting
  • Hills (some of us actually like the feeling of accomplishment when you get to the top… others just like running DOWN them!)
  • You can run with a friend and push each other
  • It’s easier not to cheat yourself (if you are 3 miles from home, the only way back is to go another 3 miles)

Exercising Outside Cons

  • You need to wear sunscreen
  • Weather is definitely a factor and often becomes an excuse
  • Time of day really matters
  • The pavement can be hard on your body
  • If you get an injury, you might be far from home
  • Carrying your water is a pain
  • It’s hard to pace yourself
  • Hills
  • Exhaust
  • The garbage truck (there is nothing worse than being stuck behind it!!!)
  • If you are pushing a stroller, your child(ren) might cry (always bring Cheerios, Gold Fish, and if desperation sets in, a sugar free sucker always does the trick!)
  • If you are taking your dogs, you need to clean up after them (yes you do!)

Why I Love Both

In my opinion, there is nothing more satisfying than lacing up my running shoes, turning on my iPod, and heading out my front door for a jog.  I have an incredible stroller, The Bob Revolution Duallie, which allows me to take the kiddos with basically no effort, too!  Plus, the stroller can caddy my water!  Further, as long as I set out early or late enough, the sun isn’t too intense and the summer temperatures are bearable (OK, barely bearable in Louisiana).  I really do feel accomplished when I plow through more strenuous terrain.

With that said, there are days the weather just does not cooperate.  Even though I can tolerate jogging in 40 degree weather, my kids certainly cannot (or at least they would be whining so much about the cold that it wouldn’t be worth it!). There is something to be said for being able to press that “up” arrow on the treadmill so I have to run faster. It gets my adrenaline pumping to see precisely what my pace is.  I find it easier to increase my speed on the treadmill, and I like how my distance is so exact.  If I’m not reaching my virtual destination fast enough, I can give it a couple clicks to make it happen.  I also like to play mind games with the person next to me.  I know they probably aren’t participating, but I like to use my peripheral vision to see just how far they have gone or how fast they are.  I know I’m weird, but it’s my competitive side that motivates me.  I also like that I can watch TV while I run.  In my house, we watch very little TV, and if we do have it on, it’s certainly not Desperate House Wives or The Bachelor!

The Verdict

So I say, mix it up.  If the weather is nice, skip the gym and take a stroll (at a reasonable pace, of course!) with the family.  If you are training for a race and looking to increase your speed, try playing my game with the person next to you. :)   You never know, they just might be playing, too!  Whatever you do, just do it!  Don’t make up some sorry excuse, because chances are, you can find a perfect reason to do one or the other.

Now get going!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Traci Downing January 17, 2010 at 7:24 am

I only exercise outside. In the past, I have done the treadmill and just couldn’t do it because it was so bored. Although, I cannot run in cold weather because it hurts my sinuses. What do you do about that?

Nikky Manausa January 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

Traci, regarding your sinuses, unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. I will let you know if I find a sollution. Try to find ways to challenge yourself on the treadmill to make it more interesting. Seriously, tell yourself, “I’m going to get __ distance by __ minutes”, or see just how fast you can get yourself going for how long (speed intervals). If you really can’t tolerate the treadmill, then I suggest taking a leave-of-absense from running during the winter months, and hit the gym for some aerobic classes or get on my personal favorte ellipitical machine (I love how I can actually read while I’m on it!… no time for reading when I’m at home!). Kickboxing is a lot of fun and certainly can be challenging! I also like some of the strength classes like “Body Pump”, or if you need to rewind, then opt for Yoga (or some form of it). If you are not a member of a gym, then get busy in your living room with the kids. Have a daily dance-a-thon! Anything to get your heart-rate elevated, some calories burned, and your groove on!

Heather January 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

Thanks Nikky! I’ve had those same feelings about the treadmill…For a while, I’d say to myself that I was going to watch Rachel Ray and HGTV (those tvs are next to each other at the Y) for an hour instead of going to the gym. I don’t have cable (netflix only), so I’ve missed actually watching tv. It’s been working and now the Y has early (4:30) classes everyday, so I’ve made a commitment to go to those as well.
I know you run a lot. When you started out, what kind of training/routine do you suggest if I wanted to sign up for a 5k race or beyond? Also, any suggestions on foods to eat. I’m a terrible sweet tooth snacker. I’m sure you’ll have a food blog at some point, so I will look forward to it!

Nikky Manausa January 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

Heather, I’ll get you covered! But for now, regarding training for a 5K (I’m actually going to post reasons why to sign up for a race soon!) my advice is to be consistent and set a goal to actually run a couple times (2-3 days) a week. Depending on your fitness level, you may benefit from the run/walk method. I personally hate it, but I know it works for a lot of people. Start with a really GOOD warmup for 10 minutes (walking or elliptical is my preference). Then start your jog. Start SLOW… in my opinion, it’s better to start a slower pace, get the blood pumping, and then speed things up. If you start too fast, you won’t have the energy to go as far and you could injure yourself. If you are on the treadmill, and you feel your body inching forward touching the front of the treadmill, it’s time to press the up button (one level at a time) to speed things up. Don’t be afraid to push yourself! If you start to feel lightheaded or your heart starts to feel like it’s going to pop out of your chest, then it’s time to slow down (or in some cases, stop!). Finally, don’t forget the importance of a COOL DOWN. Take a few minutes to just walk once you have completed your run. This will allow your heart-rate to drop some and for your muscles to regroup. You can totally do it!!

Traci Downing January 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm

You’re so funny, Nikky. I usually take 2 months off (from running) in the winter. It’s really because I get a cold, sharp headache around my sinuses from the cold.

There is a website that I have found to help training for a marathon or 5Ks. http://www.halhigdon.com/#5-k

Melissa Thibodeaux January 18, 2010 at 12:11 am

Unfortunately I’ve sat around all weekend like a slug. I didn’t even put my running shoes on! If the weather’s nice I’ll go out tomorrow and see how far I can go. I’ve never liked running on the treadmill but I guess it would be good to use when it’s cold or raining outside and to get in shape for all the spring runs out there. I got information today about one coming up soon for muscular dystrophy. Of course I wouldn’t miss the Race for the Cure…it’ll be here way before I’m ready. I think it’s March 6…a 5k race. I’d better get busy!!!

Nikky Manausa January 18, 2010 at 12:31 am

Melissa, I’d love to know about the MD race. I spoke with Mrs. Whitley about heading up a St. Luke’s Team for the Race for the Cure, and she said I could. Glad to know I do not have to recruit you! :)

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