You’ve probably heard a lot about both, but when it comes right down to it, which one is the winner in the treadmill vs elliptical head-to-head battle? The question is finally able to be answered thanks to the continued lowering costs of the elliptical home exercise machines. It used to be that the treadmill vs elliptical question was only relevant in the gym and only pertained to which one to use first. But now, with both being readily available for about the same price and compactness, the treadmill vs elliptical question has come to the home consumer.
So, which is it? Treadmill vs elliptical: which gives you more pop for your dollar? Which leaves you healthier and in better shape? Which is safer for people who might be recovering or prone to injury? Which is for toning and which is for calorie burning? We have the answers to all these questions and more in the ultimate treadmill vs elliptical showdown!
Treadmill vs Elliptical—A Pros and Cons Battle
Because treadmills and ellipticals are the two most used cardio machines on the market, the only fair thing to do is lay out the pros and cons of both from the viewpoint of a person looking for a cardiovascular workout. For those looking to cross-train or otherwise, this guide will still prove useful, just look for the points that are pertinent to you. Further, you’ll get some very special offers on both in the link below. Ready?
Pros of the Treadmill
Perhaps one of the biggest pros of the treadmill is the wide array of exercise exertion levels you can go through on the machine. The versatility afforded lets you go from a full sprint up the side of a mountain to a gentle walk through a flat park. The ability to adjust the incline and speed allows you to tailor your workout to exactly how you’re feeling that day.
A second plus is the naturalistic motion that produces good posture throughout the day. Because treadmills are exercising your body in the exact way you walk, jog or run in everyday, you get a pragmatic workout that increases not only the muscle memory for daily activities and motions, but also the bone strength and posture that makes your body weight easier to bear. What this means is that after working out on a treadmill, your everyday activities will become easier and you will experience less pain and fatigue during your normal routines, be they work, leisure, sports or exercise. This also decreases the strain you put on your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
For those trying to lose weight, the news gets even better: treadmills burn an extraordinary amount of calories due to the fact that you’re consistently driving your weight forward. Plus, it is quite possibly one of the safest ways to efficiently burn calories. Because the treadmill has been around since the late 1800s, there has been ample time for research and development meaning that the treadmill industry is at the top of their game.
Cons of the Treadmill
Unfortunately, the treadmill does have its downside, but then again if it didn’t, this wouldn’t be much of a treadmill vs. elliptical battle! For starters, if you choose to run on treadmills you can expect some high-impact strains on your joints. Your knees, hips, spine and ankles take a bit of a beating. And while this is true no matter where you run, there is still risk for injury on a treadmill because unlike outside, the ground is moving as well as your legs. Even with advanced shock absorption systems (which are vital), the moving ground takes some getting used to when stopping, something that can cause you to trip or roll an ankle (making safety keys essential).
Further, exercising on a treadmill can be mentally exhausting (ignoring the physical exhaustion since that is an expected outcome of exercise). Many people offset this by placing their treadmill in the living room in front of the TV, listening to music or even buying treadmills with built-in iPod decks and TV monitors.
Pros of the Elliptical
Moving on to the next segment of the treadmill vs. elliptical showdown, it’s time to take a look at the pros of a home elliptical workout machine. Right off the bat, the biggest advantage the elliptical has over the treadmill is that it is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise machine. Since your feet are flat on the pedals (not slamming into the machine), your joints take far less punishment and your risk of injury is much lower. Add to this the guided resistance that is provided by the elliptical machine and you can see why many elderly and injury prone people choose the elliptical over the treadmill (sealed bearings increase this safety effect).
Another big selling point is that many ellipticals come with moving handles which provide you with a full body workout. Unlike treadmills, you can get a better upper body workout on an elliptical without compromising your lower body exercises. This also targets your heart rate in a more effective manner since the more body you put into motion, the more your heart works, giving you a more complete cardiovascular workout. Further, you can target different muscle groups by going in reverse on an elliptical, something that’s impossible to do on a treadmill.
But perhaps the biggest pro of the elliptical is that most people find it to be an easier workout overall. Although this is only partially true (the level of ease is only perceived due to the seat and fluid motion, not actual), it is still the reason many people are choosing ellipticals for their homes.
Cons of the Elliptical
Now, before you’re completely sold on the elliptical, first hear a few of the cons; there certainly are some. Ellipticals take a big hit in the versatility department. Asides from going in reverse, there’s not much more that you can do on an elliptical besides going at it as intended. Unlike the treadmill, you can’t change the incline, only the resistance.
But even more importantly, you just can’t get that pragmatic, naturalistic workout with an elliptical that you can get with a treadmill. Your feet are on pedals, in the air, and not bearing any weight meaning you lose all of those great weight-bearing advancements and posture benefits that you get with a treadmill.
Finally, a big problem that personal trainers report is that ellipticals can often encourage people to “cheat” on their motions. Because it’s easy to sit back and let the machine do a bit of the work, unless you’re completely dedicated and paying attention, you can either consciously or subconsciously “lay off the gas” for a few cycles per rep.
Treadmill vs Elliptical—The Bottom Line
So who wins in the treadmill vs elliptical challenge? Well, the only answer is you, the exerciser. No matter which machine you choose, both will leave you feeling healthier, stronger and more energetic. The bottom line is a treadmill is right for some people and an elliptical is right for others.
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