Peter Bernik

6 Scientific Excuses To Get You Out Of Running On The Treadmill And Running Outside


When it comes to the treadmill, there’s little that separates you and a hamster. Day after day, we begrudgingly return to the gym, run for miles on the same contraption, and yet, we never really get anywhere.

Nobody genuinely enjoys stomping on the treadmill, sweating up a storm and staring blankly at a depressing television station (if you do, we apologize for whatever brought you to that point), but we’ve never had a good enough reason to, well, not run on the treadmill.

...Until now. The madness ends here. We’re finally giving you all the reasons to avoid going on the treadmill that you’ve been searching for, but haven’t felt legitimate enough to actually prevent you from treading (i.e. “it’s raining,” “I’m too tired”... pathetic)

There are, in fact, real rationalizations for skipping the treadmill that don’t involve wanting to eat and sleep instead. Here are the best scientific excuses for not treading that mill today.

1. You stride differently

According to researchers from the University of East London, running on a treadmill is not the same as running on an overground environment. When you run outdoors, for example, people tend to flex their ankles more.

The treadmill causes significant increases in hip range of motion and alters your cadence. Thus, you might want to consider running outside the next time the gym walls have you going cray cray.

2. You’re going to eat more afterwards

A 2009 study in the journal of Physiology and Behavior found that people who complete heart-rate-raising (high intensity) exercise tend to overcompensate by eating more afterwards. And they’re not just chowing down on apples; they’re oftentimes craving high-calorie foods.

This will negate the weight-loss effects of your workout. Unless you’re totally conscious of what you put in your mouth and can exhibit self-control, you’re going to imbibe more crap after your treadmill session (which is all the more fun reason to skip it).

3. You won’t enjoy yourself as much

The New York Times' “Well” blog analyzed many different studies and found that exercisers not only enjoyed outdoor activity more than the treadmill, but also reaped more benefits.

Moreover, exercising outside as opposed to the treadmill improves your disposition and inspires greater commitment to an exercise program. Some studies suggest that people have lower blood levels of stress-hormone cortisol after moving outside as compared to inside.

There’s also some mild speculation that exposure to sunlight positively affects your mood.

4. Excessive cardio increases inflammation

Inflammation is not good for your body. According to expert Chris Kresser, too much cardio (like the kind you do on the treadmill) can cause many harmful effects on the body, including inflammation (which he also claims is the root of all disease).

Kresser also suggests that this kind of overtraining dysregulates cortisol levels, thereby promoting further weight gain.

5. The caloric burn isn’t great

Solely exercising on the treadmill, or specifically doing cardio alone, is not the ticket to losing weight. It's imperative to combine other forms of exercise, like weight training and interval training. Why? Because the caloric burn from 30 minutes of cardio is small.

Researchers in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that exercise interventions only elicit a modest amount of weight loss, with participants losing about 2.2 kg (about 4.85 pounds) after 24 weeks of exercise.

For rapid weight loss in a shorter amount of time, maybe try combining that with a diet of celery and air. (JUST KIDDING!)

6. You expend less energy indoors

Exercise performed outdoors is more strenuous than the indoor version. As discovered by researchers from the University of Brighton, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance when compared to those who ran across the ground outside.

Scientists compared the exertion of running on a treadmill to the exertion of running outside and found that "when running indoors on a treadmill, the lack of air resistance results in lower energy cost compared with running outdoors at the same velocity.”

Put differently, because treadmill runners face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, they exert less energy. To compensate for this difference, researchers suggest increasing your treadmill’s incline.