Elliptical Trainer vs. Treadmill – Which is Better?

When shopping for exercise equipment, comparing the elliptical trainer vs. treadmill is a common dilemma. Both can give you a good cardiovascular workout and help you burn calories. There are distinct advantages to an elliptical trainer, however, that lead many people to choose an elliptical machine for their home. We’ve taken the time to compare the features of both to help you determine which is right for you.

Elliptical Trainer vs. Treadmill – Quality of Workout

Although both treadmills and ellipticals give you a solid cardio workout and will help you burn calories, you get more of a workout for what seems to be the same amount of exertion with an elliptical trainer. This is called the “perceived level of exertion,” and because it’s lower with an elliptical you are more likely to keep with it once you get started.

Ellipticals Work the Lower & Upper Body

Treadmill vs. Elliptical

You also have a more complete workout with an elliptical machine. When looking at elliptical machines versus treadmills, don’t forget to look at what parts of the body are being used. With a treadmill you are working only the lower body. This is great if you want to focus strictly on the abdomen, buttocks and legs, but if you want a more complete workout, go with the elliptical machine.

Most elliptical trainers give you the option of an upper body workout by including movable handlebars that work in tandem with the elliptical motion of the legs. You not only get to tone your arms and work your shoulder and back muscles, you increase the cardiovascular workout you get in a set amount of time.

Reverse Motion

One other advantage of the elliptical machine vs. treadmills is the reverse motion. With this, you can work out a completely different area of leg muscles while gliding in reverse – something you’d never try to do on a treadmill.

Elliptical Machines versus Treadmills – Comfort & Safety

Treadmill Versus Elliptical

There are safety and design standards for all types of exercise equipment, but there is always the slim chance of becoming injured while working out. However, an elliptical machine eliminates many of the problems that people tend to run into with treadmills. One of the most common injuries people sustain on treadmills is a fall when trying to get on or off while the treadmill is still running or stumbling when they don’t successfully match their running or walking pace with the treadmill’s speed.

Elliptical Trainers Match Your Speed

Elliptical machines are designed so that they never operate without you actually providing the power – when you stop, the machine stops, so you won’t get caught on the foot pedals or stumble at any time. You will also be determining the speed – the elliptical trainer will speed up or slow down to match you, not the other way around.

Jarring of the Joints vs. Low Impact Exercise

While injuries to joints are considerably less likely to occur on a treadmill than when running out of doors, there is still significant jarring of the joints. In fact, you are putting the pressure of twice your body weight on your knees and ankles with each impact of your foot on the treadmill.

When using an elliptical, your feet never lift off of the foot pedals, virtually eliminating any impact. You can work up a sweat without any pounding or grinding of the joints, as Dr. Laskowski points out on the Mayo Clinic website.

Elliptical Trainer vs. Treadmill – Cost & Design

Here is one area where treadmills beat out elliptical machines. On average, a good treadmill will cost less than an elliptical trainer of similar quality. So if your joints are in good shape and you want to focus strictly on cardio and lower body, a treadmill might not be a bad investment.

Ellipticals Provide More Options

If you’re looking for a full body workout with cardio, the elliptical trainer is certainly worth the extra money. You also have many more options with an elliptical trainer, including adjustable inclines, pre-set workout programs and many other features to customize your experience.

Ellipticals Need Fewer Repairs

And finally, the design of elliptical trainers vs. treadmills tends to mean fewer repairs (there’s no belt to be replaced) and a smaller footprint. This means you can put them almost anywhere in your home with ease and look forward to lots of workouts without lost time and money for repairs.

In the end only you can determine what the best exercise equipment is for you and your family, but when it comes to elliptical trainer vs. treadmill, the elliptical trainer is the favorite.

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