Fitness And Exercise Tips

Treadmill vs Pavement

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"To run or not to run?" This should not be the question; however, there may be a question of where to run. There are many factors to be considered when it comes to choosing the proper surface for walking, running and jogging. Physical build, endurance, previous injuries, and weaknesses all need to be taken into account before deciding which is the best environment. To properly decide on which is best, there needs to be a proper weighing of the pros and cons of each. 

Using a treadmill is arguably the most comfortable way to walk, run, or jog. While running outside, unless money is not an issue, there will be no servants in pursuit fanning and cooling the air, blocking the torturous sun, or protecting the body from rain drops and hail stones. Treadmills are installed either inside a home or gym, and the atmospheric temperature is easy to adjust to personal comfort. Another great reason to run on a treadmill is that it is convenient for those who do not wish to run outside at night for safety reasons but have to work during the day.

The belt of a treadmill is more forgiving to the body; it slightly cushions the joints from the jolts and jarring that can occur on concrete. There is less chance of twisting an ankle on a treadmill as there are no difficult terrain obstacles such as rocks, trash, holes, and dog poop. Some of the joy of running on a treadmill is derived from the awesome features that are available. Most treadmills come equipped with programs that replicate running outdoors.

Programs can alter the incline and speed of a run to match terrain such as running up and down hills as well as flat surfaces. The incline is also independently adjustable for those who wish to concentrate on certain muscle groups. Another great reason to run on a treadmill is that it is possible to read or watch television while running. One or two episodes of a favorite show can make a run seem much shorter and more enjoyable for those who lack motivation.

Running on a treadmill has a lot of incentives, but it does not come without flaws. If one does not have a gym membership, a treadmill would be an expensive option; not to mention that they require power which may not be conducive for the eco-friendly. Practicing in the elements is important for those training for a mud run, obstacle course, or outdoor race. There will not be air conditioning on the course. There will be sun, possibly rain, wind, and uneven terrain. It is important to prepare in the same atmosphere that will be faced at the challenge.

Treadmills also require less exertion than running on pavement. The belt's movement helps propel the runner forward which burns fewer calories. Most treadmills have a data display that counts calories, distance covered, and the time the run lasts; however, this data is not always accurate. Some treadmills require the user to input information such as height, weight, age, and gender so that the most accurate data is displayed; but not all machines have this option.

Another issue with using a treadmill is that they are not custom made. The belt may be too narrow or too short, restricting the natural stride and swing of the arms. This hindrance may cause shoulder cramping and side and back aches.

Treadmills also lack luster, for some, because of monotony. Without the proper stimulation, whether it is music, television, daydreaming, or pure determination; it can be difficult to keep going when there is no change in the landscape. This last point may seem ridiculous to some, but once a victim of such tragedy it is hard to look at a treadmill the same. Running on a treadmill for the clumsy, tired, and uncoordinated has a danger: tripping on the moving belt and being propelled backwards like a circus flier out of a cannon. Running on a treadmill may not normally be considered a dangerous activity; however, many videos on YouTube beg to differ.

Running outside on the pavement is much different from running on a treadmill. Asphalt is readily available. It is free to use, starts at your front door (unless you live in the boondocks) and continues on much further than can be comfortably traversed in one go. Except for Gump. "Run, Forrest, run!" Another perk to running on pavement is that it is easily navigable. With Google Maps and other directional assistance, running a route is easier than ever. Although there may be obstacles while running on the road or sidewalk, the visibility covers enough area to be able to avoid any major accidents. Running outside lets the runner experience different climates that may be faced during a mud run, race, or obstacle course which will help prepare the runner for enduring those conditions during the challenge. 

The grass isn't always greener outside. Well, actually it is, but I am speaking metaphorically. There are a few dangers as well as inconveniences that come along with running outside. The road may seem rather even, "Are you gonna believe what you see or what I tell ya?", but it is not as even as it seems. There are dips in the road and pockets of gravel and potholes. Another danger to running on a sidewalk or the asphalt is traffic.

During the day, this is still something to be considered. Especially at night, wearing the proper reflective gear to allow vehicles to realize there is a runner on the road is especially necessary. Weather can determine whether a run is a good one or not. Black ice, sleet, snow, rain, lighting, flooding, and intense heat can pose problems. Finally, asphalt and pavement are not very forgiving to the body. The constant jarring can cause joint pain as well as shin splints. Falling on the aforementioned ground is also not recommended. 

Whether it is preferable to run inside in the air conditioning on a treadmill or outside in the fresh air is a personal choice. There are pros and cons to both. Whichever is favored, the correct choice was already made: keep running.

More about this author: Rebecca Rajkowski

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