Treadmill vs Elliptical: Which One is Better?

When it comes to indoor exercises, it’s no surprise that both treadmill and elliptical are two of the trendiest aerobic workout machines. They both imitate walking and running action and, depending on the strength of your exercise, can improve your cardiovascular fitness. 

Treadmill exercise is walking or running on a moving platform. It allows you to control the pace as well as the slope. With the elliptical trainer, you put your feet on the belt and move in an elliptical trainer.

Despite these machines having similarities, they also have some significant dissimilarities. With a standard question, treadmill vs. elliptical: which one is better, there’s no definite answer. It relies on your exercise goals, physical fitness, and other aspects.

Both these machines have their benefits and disadvantages when it comes to fitness. Continue reading this article if you want to learn which is for you.

Elliptical Benefits

1. Gentle on the joints

An elliptical is a low-impact gadget. If it’s difficult for you to endure the rough movement of walking or sprinting, an elliptical trainer might be ideal.

Low-impact workout reduces stress on your joints than a considerable impact workout. It makes the trainer a better option if you’re suffering from musculoskeletal problems like low-back pain, hip or knee pain, or other medical disorders like arthritis and osteoporosis.

This workout may sound like it isn’t vigorous, but it still offers an excellent aerobic exercise. A study about aerobic exercise conducted in 2017 revealed that the 24-week program of low-impact exercises helped improve the body system, 

A 2017 study on aerobic exercise found that a 24-week program of low-impact workouts improved the body composition, physical ability, and cardio health of the participants.

2. Keep fitness after injuries

Although an elliptical trainer is a low-impact equipment, it still gives you high-intensity exercise. This is very helpful, especially if you’re recuperating from injuries, but still want to retain a high level of workout.

In a 2019 study, the calories burned, oxygen intake, and the heartbeat was almost identical on the treadmill and elliptical. 

A 2010 study found that calories burned, oxygen consumption, and heart rate were nearly identical on the elliptical and treadmill. The experts analyzed that elliptical is an excellent option for the treadmill as a kind of cardio workout.

3. Upper and lower body exercise

Arm handles are available in some elliptical trainers. You can move these up and down together with your legs. The strength of these handles helps build the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and back. Also, the equipment improves the muscles in the bottom part of the body, comprising the quadriceps, glutes, and hip flexors.

4. Work on different muscles

Elliptical trainers give you a choice to change direction and exercise backward. This can switch up the muscles you build. If you go back rather than forward, you’ll work out and strengthen your tendons and calves.

Elliptical Disadvantages

1. It’s a learning process

If you have not tried exercising on an elliptical trainer before, it may take some time to learn. At first, the motion may feel weird and unnatural. You must talk to a professional trainer to help you get started with the workout.

2. Less muscle growth

While it’s a better choice for a low-impact aerobic workout, you may observe the same amount of growth you can get from using a treadmill.

If you’re seeking to increase muscular strength and keep using elliptical, you can try adding strength or weight training to your exercise a couple of times per week.

Treadmill Benefits

1. More control

The versatility that it offers you is one of the main advantages of exercising on a treadmill. If you prefer brisk walking or uphill running, you choose to control the right speed and slope of your exercise.

Also, most treadmills allow you to select from a wide range of exercise programs. It’s easier to achieve your fitness objectives if you have power over your exercise.

Since you can control the pace and slope, treadmills are perfect for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises. Research shows that HIIT training is efficient at burning calories, getting rid of body fat, and boosting cardio fitness quickly.

2. Improve leg muscles

Either running or walking on a treadmill can strengthen your leg strength, such as your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. A treadmill exercise can also enhance your glutes and hip flexors.

To improve your legs more and help avoid injury, train yourself doing lunges and squats a couple of times along with the treadmill exercises.

Treadmill Disadvantages

1. Cause injuries

Jogging or running on a treadmill may put more stress on your joints and bones than exercise on an elliptical. Over time, this results in injuries. Shin splints, stress fractures, and knee injuries are common running fractures.

To lessen or avoid injuries, you should always begin your workout with a warm-up and finish with a cool off. Also, make sure to stretch after your treadmill workout.

If you feel that running on the treadmill is too rough for your body, you can switch to cardio exercises that are more modest for your bones and joints, such as biking or swimming.

You can also decrease your mileage every week, or if you want, you could switch between walking and running. Wearing running shoe inserts give support and prevent you from getting injuries.

2. Builds lesser muscle groups

While a treadmill can help build and improve your leg strength, glutes, and hip flexors, it doesn’t aim as many muscles as with an elliptical.

In an elliptical trainer, you can improve the muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, back, and lower body.

By changing course, an elliptical also supports you to separate exact muscles, that is more difficult to perform with a treadmill machine.

Choosing the Best Machine for you

Deciding on whether to choose a treadmill or elliptical, it depends on your overall health and fitness goals. Each equipment is equally essential for burning calories, getting fit, and enjoying a great cardio workout.

Some people like the elliptical as it delivers advantages that the treadmill can’t. Like for example, if you’re susceptible to injuries or suffering from a musculoskeletal condition, then elliptical might be a better option for you because:

  • it provides you excellent cardiovascular exercise without harassing your joints and bones
  • it allows you to achieve upper and lower body exercise is a shorter time (if elliptical has arm handles)
  • it may decrease your risk for fracture while you train

The treadmill, on the other hand, maybe a great choice if:

  • you’re seeking to reach a specific target, like exercising for a 5K or 10K competition
  • you want to improve the strength of your glutes and hamstring.
  • you’re not susceptible to injuries or joint problems

Are Treadmills or Elliptical Safe to Use?

If you’re following the safety rules, then both treadmill and elliptical trainers are safe to use.

If you’re new to elliptical, you might at first want to use it with no arm handles. This provides comfort with the activity. Once you have the motion down, incorporate the arm handles.

It is essential to focus on the good when using the elliptical for working out. Maintain your stance upright and have your core hard through the motion. If you’re using an elliptical trainer at the gymnasium, ask the professional coach to demonstrate how to operate the exercise equipment safely.

Make sure to connect the safety clip to your clothes when using a treadmill machine. If you happen to trip or fall while exercising, this will help stop the equipment.

Since working out on a treadmill puts stress on your joints and bones, it is always important to stretch and cool off properly before getting started. This action helps your joints and muscles get ready for the actual exercise and decrease your risk of fractures and injuries. You can also stretch after working out.

If you are feeling lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, don’t use the treadmill or elliptical trainer. Drink more glasses of water during your exercise.

Always consult with your health doctor before getting started with your physical fitness routine. They often recommend good fitness exercise that is safe to perform.

Bottom Line

Both treadmill and elliptical are useful and beneficial machines to help you with a cardiovascular workout. A frequently asked question is, treadmill vs. elliptical: which one is better, certainly depends on your needs.

If you’re experiencing musculoskeletal problems or are injury-prone, you might want to stick with an elliptical trainer. But if you’re going to burn more calories and improve your pace and strengthen leg muscles, the treadmill is the perfect equipment for you.

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