Dubai, UAE – As a strength and conditioning coach the treadmill vs outdoor running question is one I get asked a lot. Clients want to know is it the same as running outside? As when treadmill running the belt is moving under you and there is no wind resistance for your body to counter it should be easier to run. Theoretically, you could jump up and down on a treadmill and it would record that you’re running at whatever speed the belt is moving. Outside, your legs have to propel your motion forward while pushing through the resulting wind resistance (however minor it may be).
Luckily, scientific research has proven that setting the treadmill to a 1% grade accurately reflects the energy costs and simulates outdoor running (Jones and Doust, 1996). Therefore, by setting the treadmill to a 1% grade, you can offset the lack of wind resistance and the belt moving under you to make treadmill running the same effort as running outdoors.
Research has also shown that VO2 max (the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise), is the same when running on a treadmill compared to outside, clearly demonstrating that running on a treadmill is as effective as running outside (Bassett et al. 1985).
Living in Dubai it’s a great bit of equipment for clients to use during the summer when temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius and running outdoors becomes extremely difficult. You can also adjust the elevation on the majority of treadmills to prepare for races that may have hills, which again are largely non-existent in Dubai.
Taif Delamie is UPANDRUNNING’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. You can reach him at email@example.com for any training question.
“Scientific research has proven that setting the treadmill to a 1% grade accurately reflects the energy costs and simulates outdoor running” Taif Delamie, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Service Manager
References – Bassett, DR., Giese, MD., Nagle, FJ., Ward, A., Raab, DM. and Balke, B. (1985) ‘Aerobic requirements of overground versus treadmill running’. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 17,(4),pp477-81.
Jones, AM. and Doust, JH. (1996) ‘A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running.’ J Sports Sci, 14,(4),pp321-7.