Running on one can protect your heart, save your knees, and even make you faster

By Mirel Ketchiff

The treadmill (or "dreadmill") gets a lot of hate, especially this time of year when bad outdoor conditions mean we're stuck with treadmill workouts for more miles than usual. And sure, there's something special about running in the fresh air, with plenty of pretty scenery to look at and sounds to hear. But there are plenty of perks to the indoor contraption too-starting with these five.

Protect Your Heart

Unless you're fortunate enough to live near miles and miles of off-the-beaten-path running trails, chances are you log some of your miles by the roads. And traffic-related air pollution can seriously harm your heart, found researchers from The University of California, Irvine. The treadmill protects you from the smog-and negligent drivers who may be less-than-cautious near crosswalks. (If you do hit the roads, remember these Safety Tips for Running Outdoors.)

Idiot-Proof Your Workout

When it comes to speed workouts like intervals or fartleks, treadmills let you set it and forget it-your pace that is. Just set the speed and take off, without worrying about staring at your Garmin to make sure you're sticking to your splits. (Speed workouts aren't the only things treadmills are good for, though. Learn about 6 New Ways to Burn Calories on a Treadmill.)

Save Your Knees

Many treadmills are cushioned, so they're easier on the knees and the joints than running on the roads. Plus, they're flat, without the potholes, rocks, and roots that may trip you up on the trails.

Do Less Laundry

A drawback to winter running no one seems to be talking about: the extra laundry! After summer runs, you add a sports bra, shorts, socks, and maybe a tank to your hamper. In the winter, add on leggings, an extra shirt or two, plus outerwear. All the layering is a pain. Most treadmills are in temperature-controlled spaces, so you can revert to your no-fuss summer wardrobe. (Plus, don't miss 4 Ways to Keep Your Gym Clothes Clean and Fresh.)

Work Just as Hard

As long as you set the incline to one percent, you should expend about the same amount of energy indoors as you do outside, according to findings from the University of Brighton in the U.K. (All while re-watching Orange Is the New Black or listening to this Treadmill Tone-Up Playlist too!)

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