Treadmill vs Walking Outside For Weight Loss

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Treadmill vs Walking Outside For Weight Loss

Seeking a hassle-free yet impactful method to improve your health? Look no further than walking! It’s the key to unlocking wellness and has been hailed as one of the most accessible and effective forms of exercise. Whether you’re aiming to boost your cardiovascular health, shed a few pounds, or simply rejuvenate your mind and body, walking has the power to deliver remarkable results. 

But perhaps you’re undecided between a serene stroll in the park or a vigorous session on the treadmill. Allow us to guide you in making the right choice for you, as we explore the benefits of both outdoor walks and treadmill workouts.

In this article we will explore the difference between a treadmill vs walking outside for weight loss and the pros and cons of each so that you can pick one and start smashing your goals today.

Treadmill For Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, incorporating a treadmill into your fitness routine can be a game-changer. A treadmill, a stationary exercise machine, becomes your trusted companion in your weight loss journey. What makes treadmills so popular is their ability to offer a convenient and controlled environment for walking, jogging, or running. With a treadmill, you have the power to customize your workouts, track your progress, and optimize your calorie-burning potential. 

When it comes to weight loss, the ultimate objective is to ignite the calorie-burning process and create a calorie deficit. Introducing regular treadmill walking workouts into your routine can play a significant role in achieving this goal. By stepping onto the treadmill, you elevate your overall calorie expenditure, effectively boosting your weight loss efforts. The combination of consistent walking and the controlled intensity of the treadmill allows you to burn calories efficiently and contribute to your weight loss journey.

Treadmill workouts for weight loss typically involve engaging in cardiovascular exercises on the treadmill, such as walking, jogging, or running. These exercises elevate your heart rate and help burn calories.

Benefits Of Treadmill

This piece of fitness equipment is good for your health in many ways. So, a treadmill workout is a great choice if you are starting your journey to better health. Here are ways using a treadmill machine can benefit you:

Weight Loss

Regular cardio workouts on a treadmill offer numerous health benefits, including weight loss. As you walk or run at a moderate to fast pace, your heart rate increases, you sweat, and calories are burned.

In a ten-month study, overweight and obese individuals who exercised five days a week, burning 400 to 600 calories per session, experienced weight loss. Exercise was primarily walking or jogging on motor-driven treadmills. In contrast, the control group, who did not exercise, gained weight despite no changes in their food intake. Regular physical activity proved to be a powerful factor in promoting weight loss and maintaining a healthy body composition1.

However, it’s important to remember that for long-term weight loss, a balanced focus on diet and calorie reduction is key. So, combine the benefits of treadmill cardio with a mindful approach to your nutrition for sustainable weight loss results.

Elevate Your Mood And Improved Well-being

One of the top benefits of walking on a machine includes greatly improving your overall well-being. As you engage in this activity, your stress levels naturally decrease, resulting in a boost of energy.

Walking also triggers the release of dopamine, a hormone that enhances your emotional health, while simultaneously reducing cortisol, the stress hormone. The result? A greater sense of relaxation and a noticeable improvement in your overall mood.

One study found that people with sadness felt much better about themselves when they walked on a treadmill every day. If they walk a lot, people with anxiety and sadness will see their symptoms decrease by about 20%2.

Can Aid In Maintaining Bone Density

Every time you work out, your body goes through changes and adapts. You can notice some of these changes immediately, like how tired your walking muscles feel or how good you feel after a workout. Some changes happen once you work out often and for a long time. One of these long-term benefits is that the body can keep its bone density or even make it stronger.

A recent study discovered that treadmill walking exercise training effectively improves bone mineral status, modulates inflammatory cytokines, and positively impacts blood lipid profiles in obese asthmatic patients with long-term corticosteroid use. This highlights the potential of treadmill walking as a valuable therapeutic intervention for addressing multiple health factors in this specific patient population3.

Muscle Building And Strength

You might not think of the treadmill first when you want to build strength. After all, if you’re going to get jacked, you can’t beat barbells and dumbbells with exercise. But running or walking on a machine does help build muscle groups and strength, especially in people who don’t work out much otherwise.

One study found that exercising on a treadmill is an important way to keep (leg muscle) mass, strength, and endurance. The study suggests that treadmills can be useful for people who want to prevent muscle changes from lack of activity, illness, or aging4.

Increases Calorie Burning

Several things, such as your weight and activity, affect how many calories you burn when you work out. It can also change if you make the workout harder, like walking or running uphill.

Based on a walking study, the metabolic cost went up by 17% at a 5% slope and by 32% at a 10% incline compared to those done on flat ground5.

Generally, a person weighing 155 pounds (70 kg) and walking on a flat area at 3.5 mph (5.6 kph) for an hour can burn about 267 calories. If they walk uphill at the same speed, they could burn as many as 422 calories6.

Potential Side Effects Of Treadmill

While the treadmill is often considered one of the easiest machines to become accustomed to, it is important to recognize that this popular exercise equipment does come with certain risks. Some side effects can be:

You Don’t Work As Many Muscles

The treadmill, as a cardio-focused exercise machine, primarily targets the lower body muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Compared to other forms of exercise, the treadmill may not engage as many muscle groups simultaneously. While it provides an effective cardiovascular workout and promotes endurance, it may not offer the same level of overall muscle engagement as exercises that incorporate resistance or functional movements.

Joint Pain

If you already have knee problems, like arthritis, using a treadmill can worsen them. Before you start a new exercise program, you should talk to your doctor.

Muscle Soreness

Even if you don’t have joint pain, using a bike may make your muscles sore. This is because when you walk or run on a machine, your muscles and joints are stressed repeatedly. To prevent this, warm up and cool down properly before and after using the treadmill. You should also consider wearing shoes with good support to help lessen the effect on your body.

Walking Outside For Weight Loss

If you want to start walking to lose weight, you may wonder how far you need to walk. In general, you should walk at least 10,000 steps every day. However, the specific number of steps required for effective weight loss may vary depending on factors such as your diet and overall level of physical activity. It’s important to consider these factors and adjust your step count accordingly to achieve your weight loss goals successfully.

Gradually increasing your walking time or incorporating brisk walking can help burn more calories and contribute to weight loss. Additionally, combining walking with other forms of exercise, such as strength training or aerobic activities, can further enhance your weight loss efforts. Remember, consistency is key, so aim for regular walking sessions throughout the week and make it a part of your daily routine.

Benefits Of Walking Outside

Walking outside offers numerous benefits, including exposure to fresh air and natural scenery, which can enhance mood, reduce stress, and provide a refreshing break from indoor environments. Additionally, walking outdoors allows for varying terrain, promoting muscle engagement and balance, while providing vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

Here are potential health benefits of walking outdoors for more reasons to step outside and walk:

Reduce Risk Of Chronic Diseases

People who walk regularly are less likely to have heart attacks or strokes, have lower blood pressure, and have higher amounts of HDL (healthy cholesterol) than people who don’t exercise. Researchers that looked at several studies found that walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your chance of coronary heart disease by 19%7.

Reduces Blood Sugar

Throughout the day, your blood sugar levels naturally fluctuate as your body tries to determine the appropriate insulin levels. To prevent feeling thirsty and tired after meals, it’s important to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Consider taking a short walk after eating as research suggests that just two to five minutes of walking can help lower blood sugar levels, promoting better overall health for you8.

Reduces Cravings

Most of the time, cravings are bad news for people trying to lose weight. Most foods that people crave are high in calories, fat, or sugar.

Studies show that walking can reduce the desire for sugar, both during the walk and for about 10 minutes afterward9.

Reduces Risk Of Cancer

Research shows that two and a half to five hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, like walking, can help lower your chance of cancers like colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, liver, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma10.

Side Effects Of Walking Outside

Walking outside is generally considered a safe and healthy activity with numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. However, a few potential side effects are associated with walking outside, although they are relatively rare.

It’s important to note that these side effects are not typically caused directly by walking but may arise due to certain environmental factors or personal circumstances. Here are a few possible side effects to be aware of:


When you walk outside, you might be exposed to allergens like pollen, dust, or certain plants, which can make some people allergic. This can make you sneeze, have a runny nose, itchy eyes, or spots on your skin.


Most people prefer to exercise in the morning. However, you should be cautious when walking under the sun.

If you don’t protect yourself from the sun outside, you could get a sunburn, especially if your skin is fair or sensitive. Sunburn can make your skin red, causing discomfort and pain. In the worst cases, it can cause blisters or increase the risk of skin cancer.


You can get dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water while walking for a long time, especially when it’s hot out. Dehydration causes a dry mouth, thirst, tiredness, dizziness, and less pee production.

Heat Stroke Or Heat Exhaustion

Walking in hot weather, especially when working out hard, could cause heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heatstroke. These conditions can cause signs like dizziness, sickness, headache, fast heartbeat, confusion, or even passing out. Staying hydrated is essential when walking in hot weather, wearing the right clothes, and stopping for breaks in the shade.

Comparison Of Treadmill vs Walking Outside For Weight Loss

The choice between using a treadmill or walking outside for weight loss depends on individual circumstances, preferences, and goals. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:


Treadmills offer convenience as they can be used regardless of weather conditions and at any time. You can exercise indoors without worrying about obstacles or safety concerns. Walking outside, on the other hand, provides the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and explore different routes.


Consider what motivates you and what you enjoy. Some people find the controlled environment and less effort of a treadmill, such as speed and incline adjustments, more motivating. Others may prefer the natural surroundings and varied scenery of outdoor walking. Choosing an option you enjoy and find motivating can increase adherence to your weight loss program.

Joint Impact

If you have joint issues or are overweight, walking on a treadmill with a cushioned surface can be gentler on your joints compared to walking on hard outdoor surfaces. Stepping outside, however, provides the advantage of varied terrain, which can help strengthen muscles and improve balance.

Social Interaction

Walking outside can provide social interaction if you walk with a partner, join a walking group, or walk in a community park. This social aspect can enhance enjoyment and motivation. Conversely, treadmills may offer features like virtual training programs or the ability to connect with friends remotely.

Consider these factors and choose the option that aligns with your preferences, fits into your lifestyle, and keeps you motivated. You may also opt a combination of treadmill use and outdoor walking to add variety to your workouts and enjoy the benefits of both options.


In summary, both walking outside and using a treadmill have unique advantages for weight loss. Treadmills offer convenience and progress tracking, while walking outside provides fresh air, varied terrain, and social interaction. The choice depends on personal preferences, motivation, and desired outcomes. Combining both approaches can offer variety and maximize weight loss benefits. Ultimately, selecting the option that aligns with individual needs and preferences is crucial for adherence and achieving weight loss goals.


1 Donnelly JE, Honas JJ, Smith BK, Mayo MS, Gibson CA, Sullivan DK, Lee J, Herrmann SD, Lambourne K, Washburn RA. Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: midwest exercise trial 2. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Mar;21(3):E219-28. doi: 10.1002/oby.20145. PMID: 23592678; PMCID: PMC3630467.

2 Ensari I, Sandroff BM, Motl RW. Effects of Single Bouts of Walking Exercise and Yoga on Acute Mood Symptoms in People with Multiple Sclerosis. Int J MS Care. 2016 Jan-Feb;18(1):1-8. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2014-104. PMID: 26917992; PMCID: PMC4766946.

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6 Singh G, Kushwah G, Singh T, Ramírez-Campillo R, Thapa RK. Effects of six weeks outdoor versus treadmill running on physical fitness and body composition in recreationally active young males: a pilot study. PeerJ. 2022 Jul 27;10:e13791. doi: 10.7717/peerj.13791. PMID: 35915754; PMCID: PMC9338755.

7 Zheng H, Orsini N, Amin J, Wolk A, Nguyen VT, Ehrlich F. Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol. 2009;24(4):181-92. doi: 10.1007/s10654-009-9328-9. Epub 2009 Mar 22. PMID: 19306107.

8 Buffey, A.J., Herring, M.P., Langley, C.K. et al. The Acute Effects of Interrupting Prolonged Sitting Time in Adults with Standing and Light-Intensity Walking on Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Health in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med 52, 1765–1787 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-022-01649-4

9 Ledochowski L, Ruedl G, Taylor AH, Kopp M. Acute effects of brisk walking on sugary snack cravings in overweight people, affect and responses to a manipulated stress situation and to a sugary snack cue: a crossover study. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 11;10(3):e0119278. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119278. PMID: 25760042; PMCID: PMC4356559.

10 Charles E. Matthews, Steven C. Moore, Hannah Arem, Michael B. Cook, Britton Trabert, Niclas Håkansson, Susanna C. Larsson, Alicja Wolk, Susan M. Gapstur, Brigid M. Lynch, Roger L. Milne, Neal D. Freedman, Wen-Yi Huang, Amy Berrington de Gonzalez, Cari M. Kitahara, Martha S. Linet, Eric J. Shiroma, Sven Sandin, Alpa V. Patel, and I-Min Lee Journal of Clinical Oncology 2020 38:7, 686-697


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