To Treadmill or Not To Treadmill……

I was asked this question by one of my members the other day; they wanted to know if a walk on a treadmill was just as good as walking outside

Before we get into it any further, lets all agree that moving your body daily regardless of the method is important and should be done however it needs to be done.

Now back to the Treadmill or Not To Treadmill question.

Obviously if it’s ridiculous weather or your day has gotten away from you and you can’t get outside for a walk then the trusty treadie is a great option; but as a preferred way of getting a walk done its benefits pail in comparison to walking outside

Lets start with the fact a treadmill is a flat surface – even with an incline option it is still a flat surface you are walking on.

When we walk outside we are often on undulating surfaces – the slope of the footpath, stepping on loose rocks or up and over curbs; all of these things work and strengthen our stabilizer muscles.

Walking outside activates our Stabilizer Muscles

Stabilizer muscles assist with balance and core strength. Both of these are essential as we age. Sadly they are often neglected and this can lead to instability and becoming unbalanced with age. Walking on a treadmill does not work the stabilizer muscles like a walk outside

Walking uphill, either outdoors or on a treadmill is fantastic for working Glutes and Quadriceps; and on a treadmill you can set that incline pace to really get you working hard – whereas outdoors you may take it slower on the uphill. But a treadmill can’t replicate the walking downhill like you can when walking outdoors. Downhill walks help to lengthen muscles, like Quadriceps and Hip flexors – a fantastic thing if you sit a lot.

Studies have also shown that getting outside for a walk can improve your emotional state by reducing stress and anxiety levels

And if you’re looking for that calorie burn – you will burn more calories with a 20 min walk outside compared to a 20 min treadmill walk at the same pace; mainly because of the extra muscles you must activate when walking outside.

There is also the mental awareness factor to consider. So much of what we do in our day to day lives is automated or part of a habit/routine. We don’t consciously think about a lot of it. Going for a walk outside means we must consciously be aware of our surroundings; traffic, trees, cracks in the footpath and so on. We must be aware, which can be a great exercise for the brain if you find you are on auto pilot for a large part of the day

And of course there’s the well know benefits of Vitamin D and fresh air.

So when it comes to your preffered method of getting some distance on your feet, the treadmill should be a last resort. Try to get outside and enjoy a walk, your body and mind will thank you for it now and as you age

Happy Walking !