Runners have always had a view on whether treadmill running is easier than doing it outdoors. Michael Mosley weighs up his options.
For those of us who rather optimistically made a New Year’s resolution to do a bit more exercise, running is the obvious and popular option. But is it better to do your running outdoors, in the wind and rain, or to go down to your local gym and work up a sweat on the treadmill, while surreptitiously admiring your reflection in a giant mirror?
It’s not something I’ve really thought much about before, possibly because I’m not that crazy about running, but it’s certainly a topic that divides running enthusiasts. So what are the arguments, for and against?
Firstly, which of these approaches is likely to get you fitter? Those who are enthusiastic about running outdoors claim it uses up more energy. The main reason is wind resistance, which you don’t get a lot of when you are a gym rat. But fans of the gym say this is not necessarily true. In a study conducted by Exeter University, Prof Andrew Jones took nine male runners and made them run along a road, measuring their energy expenditure. Then they got these volunteers to run at the same speed on a treadmill, but on different inclines. What they found is that runners could adequately compensate for the extra effort of running outdoors by setting the treadmill to a 1% gradient
Trust Me I’m A Doctor is broadcast on BBC Two at 20:00 GMT on Wednesday 27 January – catch up afterwards on BBC iPlayer.