Which Wins Wednesday: Working Out Indoors vs. Outdoors

Spring has sprung and you have a new pair of running sneakers and a hot playlist on your smartphone. All winter you have been getting your cardio fix on the treadmill, but the ground that has been covered in snow and ice for the last few months is clear, and the sun has warmed the temperature up at least a few degrees.

Should you exercise indoors or outdoors? What are the benefits of both?


Inside Running or Working Out
Most gyms and studios have state of the art cardiovascular equipment, strength-training machines, free weights and a variety of group exercise classes. A ClassPass membership allows you the freedom to select classes from your city’s top fitness studios. A studio or gym is climate controlled and always available in all weather conditions and the options at the gym or fitness studio help you keep your workouts fresh and exciting.

Let’s look at an activity that can be done indoors and outside: running. The treadmill can be a runner’s best friend during inclement weather or if your safety and workout quality may be compromised during an outdoor run. Hills are easy to replicate on a treadmill and are great for HIIT training. Impact on the body is reduced on the treadmill or in a strength-training class, and can be useful for someone who is recovering from an injury. 

Outdoor Running
Fair weather workout fiends rejoice the day the temperatures are above 40 degrees to exercise  outside. According to the New York Times blog, there are benefits to exercising outside that cannot be replicated in a gym. People who participate in outdoor activities have been shown to enjoy it more and consequently, work out for a longer period of time and more often. Exercising in the sun helps the body create Vitamin D in the body which can help support the immune system and promote good bone health.  

There are several differences between running and walking outside that are challenging to replicate on the treadmill. For example, a person who takes their walk or run outside is going to expend more energy because they have to adapt to the changes in temperature, terrain and wind. Your ankles flex more when you run outside, which changes your stride, and your hamstrings are more active when running outdoors.

The winner is…..
The benefits of running outdoors (or lots of fun outdoor classes!) can’t be completely replicated inside. Though any kind of exercise – inside or outside – is great for your health, soaking up the vitamin D and breathing fresh air will do your body better.

For West Coast and Southerners, exercising outdoors can be a year – round option, but those in the Midwest and East Coast may only have the option to exercise outdoors from March to November. Weather permitting, follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines to stay safe during your outdoor workouts.