You’ve made the perfect playlist, you’ve laced up your tennis shoes, and you’re ready to knock out your cardio. Do you ever wonder what the better option is between indoor and outdoor cardio? You probably have a preference regardless of which one is better for you. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing cardio inside and outside.
For comparison sake, let’s use running as the example in both situations. If you’re running on a treadmill then you’re keeping a steady pace. The machine does this for you. Even if you’re on a hill setting, the pace will still be kept the same. When you’re outside, your pace will change due to many different factors. The environment around you might change, running through tall grass will be more difficult than running on pavement and you’ll have to adjust in order to keep your form. Your playlist might change causing you to speed up or slow down. I know that sounds crazy, but chances are if you’re listening to Lady Gaga you’re running faster than if you were listening to Celine Dion. Your body will also react differently to being outside. The heat, the wind, the cold will all play factors in your endurance. Change of pace = change of speed and intensity. Plain and simple.
If you’re running on a treadmill your pace, speed, and intensity will be variables that you can manipulate and control. This means that you will always have a measurable honest progression. If you record your mileage from week to week, then you’ll know how to decrease your time or increase your distance. If you’re running outside then you can still do these things but it will be a little more challenging to measure and progress.
If you have joint, tendon, or impact issues then running on a treadmill might be a better choice for you. Treadmills are designed to have a certain level of give to them, which decreases the pressure on your joints and creates a lightened impact on your bones. If you’re running outside, the pavement will not give as much and you’ll be slamming the surface repeatedly. I know what you’re thinking “so why not just run in the grass?” Well here’s the thing, grass has divots, holes, and uneven surfaces. So if you twist your ankle, then you won’t be able to run at all. How’s that going to work out for ya? Not so good.
In my opinion, indoor cardio is better than outdoor cardio because you get consistent pace, speed, and intensity, as well as measurable, honest, progression.
If you’re doing cardio all the time and aren’t sure how to progress, then consider these 3 options:
Increase Distance: Keep track of your mileage each week. For example run 1.5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for your first week. The next week, jump it up to 2.5 miles Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Do this every week and you’ll slowly increase your distance by a long haul!
Decrease Time: Instead of adjusting your mileage, adjust your time. For example, keep your distance locked in at 3 miles. Record your time at the end of each cardio session. Each time you run 3 miles, try to knock some time off your record. It’ll keep you motivated instead of running aimlessly on the hamster wheel!
Change Intensity (HIIT): If you’re in need of an overhaul then you might want to consider trying High Intensity Interval Training also known as HIIT. This is a great way to shake things up. During HIIT Cardio perform a 5 minute warm up, followed medium resistance, difficult resistance. Cycle through medium and difficult resistance until 20 minutes is complete. Finish with a 5 minute cool down. For example: 5 minute warm up, cycle through 2 minute medium resistance, 30 second difficult resistance, and finish with a 5 minute cool down.
At the end of the day, the best option is the one you’ll stick to! So if you love indoor cardio then keep at it! If you love outdoor cardio then more power to ya! It’s like that saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Am I right? Lol just do your cardio!