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Do I Burn More Calories Running Outside or on a Treadmill?

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Updated March 12, 2014

Runner outside in fall weather Chase Jarvis

Question: Do I Burn More Calories Running Outside or on a Treadmill?

"I've heard that running outside burns more calories than running on a treadmill. Is that true?"

Answer: It really depends on how fast you're running. For the average person running at 5 to 9 mph, some research shows that outdoor running burns up to 5 percent more calories, while other studies show no difference. But if you're running at a quick pace -- faster than 10 mph (6 minutes per mile) -- you may be burning up to 10 percent more calories when you run outside, compared with running the same speed on a treadmill.

Running on a treadmill is somewhat easier physically because the ground is being pulled underneath your feet and there's no wind resistance, so that may explain the difference in the amount of calories burned. The faster you run outside, the harder you're working against wind resistance. If you want to better simulate outdoor running conditions on the treadmill, you can set your treadmill at a 1% incline.

Also, keep in mind that those calories burned displayed on treadmills are not accurate. Some reports suggest that treadmills and other cardio machines actually overestimate calories burned by up to 15-20%.

Also see: How Many Calories Does Running Burn?
Frequently-Asked Questions About Running and Weight Loss

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