Ellipticals vs Treadmills

Which one is better for you?

Ellipticals and Treadmills Compared

Don’t know whether to go elliptical or treadmill? It was definitely an issue I faced when I started to look for exercise equipment. Both machines are very popular and they both have health benefits that I find to be useful, so which one to choose?

Well I am the owner of this elliptical site so it’s no secret that I am in favor of ellipticals, but I will say that treadmills also make a very strong case. So to be fair I will present arguments on both sides here so you can decide for yourself. An elliptical may have been the best choice for me but this does not necessarily mean that it will also be the best choice for you. It’s always best to make an educated decision, and if you continue reading you will learn about the benefits and drawbacks of both exercise machines; I hope that this will help you to make an informed choice.

Elliptical Benefits

I think the main advantage that elliptical trainers have over treadmills is the fact that they put little or no stress on your joints when you exercise with them. When you use an elliptical trainer your feet stay in contact with the footrests, which reduces the stress on your joints. Another benefit of using an elliptical trainer is that most of them allow you to work your upper body as well as your lower body. Treadmills by default only work your lower body but you will get a full-body workout from an elliptical trainer if you use the moving handlebars. Elliptical machines are also widely considered to be more comfortable to use and, as you have the ability to burn a comparable amount of calories as you would on a treadmill, many people will choose the elliptical because it provides more comfort in your workouts. When your machine is more comfortable to use you find you tend to work harder for longer sessions.

Elliptical Cons

Elliptical trainers offer less of a variety in the types of workouts that you can do. Many ellipticals do not have an incline function, and those that do are normally not as effective as using incline on a treadmill. It is also possible to “cheat” by using an elliptical’s momentum instead of your own strength to power the machine. This means that you can take it very easy on an elliptical if you choose to and not really do too much work, whereas on a treadmill even if you were just walking you will have to do so with some effort. Elliptical exercise is not a weight-bearing process and so is less effective for strengthening your muscles and bones than a treadmill would be.

Treadmill Benefits

Treadmills have been around for a very long time, much longer than ellipticals, and people like them because of the variety of workout options that they provide. You can walk, jog, or run on a treadmill, and for even more of a workout you can add an incline. Your movements on a treadmill as you exercise will also be very natural, unlike some of the new exercise machines now being developed which cause your motions to be awkward and unnatural. Because treadmill exercise is weight-bearing and forces you to propel your body weight with substantial effort on your part, you will tend to burn more calories when you exercise on a treadmill. Weight-bearing exercises can also help to make your bones and muscles stronger when compared to non weight-bearing exercises.

Treadmill Cons

Perhaps the biggest drawback to exercising on a treadmill is the fact that it puts stress on your joints. Even if your treadmill is one that has good shock absorption, there will still be a significant impact on areas like your ankles, spine, knees, and hips. Another drawback to using a treadmill is that checking your heart rate while running on a treadmill by holding on to the heart rate sensors can be awkward and difficult for most users. When compared to an elliptical trainer, running on a treadmill is also quite difficult, especially when you run on an incline angle.


Both elliptical trainers and treadmills clearly have their own individual benefits that you may or may not find helpful. Which one is better? The real question is which one is better for you. If you have any joint issues then an elliptical would be the better choice, but if you are older and want to prevent osteoporosis you would benefit from the weight-bearing effect of using a treadmill. Consider both machines carefully before you make your choice, because whichever one you choose you will be stuck with it for a long time.

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