When you're trying to lose weight, you want to make the most out of the time you spend exercising. Motivating yourself to exercise is tough enough, so you want to make sure your workout routine has the maximum benefit for you. Deciding between walking outside or walking on a treadmill is mostly a matter of taste; both methods can help you lose weight by burning calories. Just make sure you pick the workout that you enjoy the most and are least likely to skip.
Weight loss is achieved by burning more calories in a day than you consume. At the most basic level, simply walking on a treadmill instead of walking outside won't cause you to lose more weight. If you weigh 160 pounds and walk 2 miles per hour, you will burn 204 calories in an hour. If you walk 3.5 miles per hour, you will burn 314 calories in the same amount of time. These numbers are the same whether you are using a treadmill or walking outside.
If you live in an area where the terrain is very hilly, it's tougher to compare how many calories you'll burn walking outside versus on a treadmill. But if you're walking outside on an even terrain, you will burn fewer calories than if you use the incline option on a treadmill. By adding just a 5 percent incline to a treadmill instead of walking on it flat, you can burn almost 100 more calories in an hour. Most treadmills elevate between 1 and 10 percent, and some go as high as 15 percent. Try starting at a lower incline and work your way up.
Another difference between walking on a treadmill versus walking outside is controlling your speed. When you walk outside, you may not know just how fast you're walking or it may be tougher to keep your pace up. On a treadmill, you can determine your speed by using the "speed" or "pace" button, which changes the speed of the running belt. Most treadmills have a maximum speed between 8 and 12 miles per hour, with a few having a top speed of 15 miles per hour. You can also set a program on your treadmill to vary the speed at different points in time. This lets you have greater control over how many calories you burn.
Some people may prefer to walk outside because they enjoy it more than walking inside on a treadmill and find it less boring. For other people, however, treadmills actually offer a distinct psychological advantage. When you use a treadmill, you can exercise no matter what the weather is like. You also don't have to worry about whether an area is safe to walk in or how you look. If you have a treadmill in your home, you can work out any time you feel like it, even immediately after you get up. It can also be tougher to get bored, since many treadmills come with docks for listening to music or even small televisions for watching your favorite show. With fewer excuses, you may exercise more and thus burn more calories.
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.