Exercise is something that is mostly down to personal preference. Some of us like to take a walk, whilst others might hit the gym most days or head outside for a run whatever the weather.
Exercise in any form can only be a good thing. Rising obesity rates are a constant in our media; an upward trend in childhood obesity was reported widely recently as was a link between women’s breast cancer and being overweight.
You might have heard us talking about how our ebove™ concept is trying to ‘make the outdoor more like the indoor’. We’re working on creating an indoor exercise experience that’s just as stimulating as riding a bike outdoors.
We don’t want to replace riding a bike for real, but we want to try and offer a more engaging and fun alternative to the normal gym experience. Riding a bike outside, especially with friends, is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise and we wanted to try and recreate some of that through what we can offer with the ebove™ bike.
But this brings us to the question: which is best, outdoor or indoor exercise?
An hour on an elliptical trainer on a low resistance won’t burn many calories or massively improve your cardiovascular health. You would probably get a lot more from an hour jogging outside. However, switch up this hour in the gym to include weight training, varied resistances and speeds and you’ll soon be working your heart and muscles much more effectively.
We look at two of the most common forms of exercise, running and cycling, and examine how their indoor and outdoor versions measure up…
Thanks to wind resistance and varied inclines and terrain, running outdoors generally burns more calories than running on a treadmill. Treadmills are also a frequent cause of injuries (24,400 treadmill injuries and at least one death are reported in the USA every year!).
Each treadmill stride is just about identical to the last which creates more strain on your legs. Outside your body is experiencing hundreds of minute incline, direction and elevation changes over a run, which helps reduce repetitive strain.
Outdoor runners also report feeling an increased sense of wellbeing, as well as better sleep patterns thanks to fresh air. People are also more likely to run in groups outside, and this social interaction is of further mental health benefit. Adjusting your body’s temperature according to the weather or climate will also burn more calories. Running outside in warmer weather results in a greater expenditure of energy, and of course you will sweat more.
Time of year, safety and geography are all barriers to running outside though. A treadmill also puts things like pace, heart rate and incline right at your fingertips, so you can control your overall effort and speed very easily.
Adding intervals on a varied incline will give you a more varied workout, and use the fact that the treadmill is constantly moving to keep you motivated. Thanks to automated incline and decline changes, you can simulate a race or try a tempo run. You can also run uphill without having to run back down again – so avoiding the many injuries that running down steep inclines can lead to.
Both have their place. Running outside might make you feel better mentally and you will probably burn more energy. It’s not always possible to run outside, so with the right programme treadmill running can offer a great alternative.
Fewer hazards and geography make indoor cycling a winner when it comes to safety. It’s also surprisingly effective at burning calories, particularly if you join a group cycling class like Spinning.
A study by CNN on indoor vs. outdoor exercise found that heartrate and calorie burn were both higher when riding indoors. You can’t really fall from an indoor bike, but fall from an outdoor bike at speed then you’re likely to hurt yourself. Broken wrists and collar bones are the most common injuries suffered by outdoor bikers.
However, riding a bike outside is undoubtedly one of the nicest ways to exercise, and it’s also a great activity to do with friends, plus you get the benefits of using your balance and core muscles.
You might not get all the calorie burn that you do with indoor cycling, as you are unlikely to naturally experience so many sharp incline changes, but as with running you will probably feel a lot better mentally if you’re able to ride outdoors. Indoor cycling can also be incredibly boring (unless you’re taking part in a class) if your gym has standard upright bikes, which as we often like to point out, no-one really enjoys using! Most of them end up forgotten and lonely in a corner or, if you’ve invested in one for home use, used as an expensive clothing rack.
Of course, add some interactive/virtual reality element and you’ll feel very different about the whole experience!
We’d say indoor and outdoor cycling are a close draw. If you’re lucky enough to live near great trails and have access to nice riding terrain, then riding outdoors is a winner. However, if like 54% of the world’s population, you live in a city, then indoor biking is by no means a bad option. Particularly if you or your gym are able to get hold of one of the most innovative indoor cycling products on the market J
To conclude…Any form of exercise that you can manage is only a good thing for your body and your health. It can be as hard or as easy as you make it. It’s up to you which you find easiest to stick to! If you want a truly fun, interactive indoor cycling workout, then head here to find out more about how our ebove indoor fitness solutions can help you.