Does Running On A Treadmill Burn Less Calories

When it comes to burning calories, running is often considered one of the most effective exercises. But what about running on a treadmill? Does it burn fewer calories compared to running outdoors?

As a fitness enthusiast and avid runner, I’ve always been curious about the difference between running on a treadmill and running outside. I’ve done some research, and here’s what I found.

The Science Behind Burning Calories

Calories burned during exercise depend on various factors, such as body weight, running speed, intensity, and duration. When you run, your body utilizes energy to propel itself forward, which results in calorie burn.

Running on a treadmill involves running in a controlled environment with a moving belt beneath your feet. The treadmill’s belt assists with your forward motion, reducing the need to stabilize or push off the ground as you would outdoors.

Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

Research suggests that running on a treadmill may indeed burn slightly fewer calories compared to running outside. This difference can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Wind Resistance: When you run outside, you face wind resistance, which requires your body to work harder. This increased effort leads to higher calorie expenditure. Conversely, treadmill running eliminates wind resistance, making it easier to maintain your pace.
  2. Terrain: Running on uneven surfaces, such as trails or sidewalks, engages more muscles in your legs, core, and stabilizer muscles, leading to a higher calorie burn. Treadmill running, on the other hand, provides a consistent and flat surface, reducing the muscular engagement.
  3. Stride Length: When running on a treadmill, your stride length may be slightly shorter due to the limitations of the machine. A shorter stride length can result in a lower calorie burn compared to outdoor running, where you have more freedom to extend your strides.

Individual Differences and Variations

It’s important to note that the difference in calorie burn between treadmill and outdoor running may vary depending on individual factors. Some individuals may experience a negligible difference, while others may notice a more significant variation.

Factors such as fitness level, running form, and personal preferences can also influence the number of calories burned. For example, if running on a treadmill motivates you to push harder or increase the intensity, you may end up burning more calories than you would during an outdoor run.

Making the Most of Your Treadmill Workout

While treadmill running may burn slightly fewer calories, it still remains an excellent option for cardiovascular exercise and calorie burn. To maximize your treadmill workout, consider incorporating the following tips:

  1. Incline: Increase the incline on your treadmill to mimic the effort required when running outdoors. This will help engage more muscles and increase your calorie expenditure.
  2. Interval Training: Alternate between periods of high-intensity running and active recovery to boost your calorie burn and overall fitness.
  3. Challenge Yourself: Adjust the speed and incline settings to continuously challenge your body and prevent plateauing.


While running on a treadmill may burn slightly fewer calories compared to outdoor running, it is still a valuable form of exercise. The difference in calorie burn can be attributed to factors such as wind resistance, terrain, and stride length. However, individual variations and preferences should also be considered.

Ultimately, the most important thing is finding an exercise routine that you enjoy and can consistently stick to. Whether you choose to run on a treadmill or outdoors, both options offer great cardiovascular benefits and can help you achieve your fitness goals.