Treadmill Versus Elliptical

By Christine Lehman

  • Overview

    Treadmill Versus Elliptical
    Treadmills and elliptical trainers are both pieces of exercise equipment used indoors to get a workout. The question most people ask when looking into buying a piece of exercise equipment is which of these machines is best suited for them. There are negative and positive aspects of each that need to be taken into consideration before purchasing a treadmill or an elliptical trainer.
  • History

    While treadmills have been around for many years, elliptical trainers are relatively new on the exercise equipment market. Each has come a long way in recent years with respect to features. Many treadmills and elliptical trainers have television screens, built-in workout coaches and places to plug in your iPod.
  • Features

    In essence, a treadmill is a large belt on rollers with a motor attached. This allows the user to walk or run on the belt in place. Elliptical trainers have large foot pedals that revolve in an elliptical pattern. The user's foot never leaves the pedals, so there is no impact. This makes it the exercise machine of choice for people who are older or have foot, knee or hip injuries. Elliptical trainers generally have handles that swing back and forth with the foot pedals. Users can grab these handles and get an upper body workout. This can increase the intensity of the workout and increase arm strength. In most cases there are stationary handles that can be grasped when you want a lower intensity or just want to concentrate on the lower body.


  • Similarities

    Elliptical trainers and treadmills do have features in common. Each will keep track of the distance "traveled" as well as the calories burned and the time elapsed. The intensity can be adjusted on each of these machines to make them harder or easier by simulating uphill and downhill motion (or incline). You can burn several hundred calories per hour on each of these machine types and, in fact, are very similar to each other in the amount of effort you can expend. Both elliptical trainers and treadmills can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the quality and number of features present.
  • Differences

    Elliptical trainers tend to be a little more versatile than treadmills. Elliptical trainers have the ability to reverse their motion, which will work a different set of muscles (namely the glutes). This motion is possible on a treadmill, but walking backwards on a treadmill is often difficult and dangerous. Furthermore, the moving handles on the elliptical trainers allow you to work your arms in addition to your legs, which may burn more calories.
  • Considerations

    Treadmills are the best piece of exercise equipment for people who love to walk, jog or run. The motion simulated on an elliptical trainer is not exactly the same as on a treadmill, so training for road races must occur on a treadmill.
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