elliptical vs treadmill

Elliptical vs Treadmill – Which is Better in 2022?

If you're trying to get into shape, you've probably wondered about which low impact cardio exercise method is most useful to help you hit your goals. While an elliptical is a suitable piece of equipment for beginner athletes but is it better than using a treadmill? Let's discuss this treadmill vs elliptical topic in more detail.

The Benefits of Treadmills

The most obvious reason to use a treadmill is that it promotes the natural movements of running outdoors while remaining indoors and keeping you safe from the elements. Treadmills are one of the most straight-forward cardio machines you can find. There is no ambiguity as to whether it will be useful in the long term.

If you set the console to nine miles per hour, you’re really going to be running at nine miles per hour unless you stop or change settings. This ability to control your speed, the time, and the incline promotes a form of accountability that is both healthy and rewarding.

On the treadmill, your joints and ligaments are going to experience less impact than running on pavement or hardened roads. There is still some impact, which is a good thing. Strong impact on the joints while on a treadmill is essential for maintaining bone density as you get older. And according to a study by the University of Missouri, running may do more to build stronger bones than lifting weights.

Even without putting extreme stress on your body, running can also cause a natural reaction, increasing the strength of your muscles and cartilage. Mile after that mile that can burn a lot of extra calories.

Treadmills are a remarkably effective option if your goal is simply to burn calories. A 10-minute mile run burns 9.8 METs, or otherwise known as the metabolic equivalent for a given task. A MET is an estimate of how much energy the body might consume during physical activity. For example, remaining seated is just one MET.

  • A 150-pound person burns about 340.9 calories per hour using an elliptical machine.
  • A 150-pound person would also burn about 668.2 calories per hour running on a treadmill.

The drawback to using a treadmill is that if you don't have a structured regiment or a coach to guide you, working out on the treadmill can be dull and unengaging. Another thing to keep in mind is that running is difficult. It requires a dedicated effort to push yourself and get the necessary results. The amount of self-discipline can be discouraging to some people.

Best Time to Use the Treadmill

If you have some experience and you're used to running for fitness, a run on the treadmill three to four times a week can significantly improve your stamina, strength, and leanness. If you're getting ready for a marathon or a race, two to three days of training a week can be a great way to get accustomed to long runs with the ability to adjust pace and incline.

The treadmill can push your further beyond your limits than an elliptical can. The energy exerted when trying to force yourself off the ground is no small amount.

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Benefits of the Elliptical

Some might write off the exercise available on an elliptical as low intensity, low impact, and more comfortable than running. And while that's correct, it might also be beneficial.

The elliptical provides a lower impact workout for athletes because your feet are always planted on the pedals.

This causes less strain on your knees and joints, which means your lower-body joins won’t suffer so much wear and tear. Nearly 80% of injuries incurred while running are a result of overuse of these joints and ligaments.

Another advantage of this cardio machine is that you’re going to get a better whole-body workout when using an elliptical. Pulling and pushing the handles can work the upper and lower body while engaging your core, balancing the movement.

Adjusting the incline and resistance settings is one way you can target the different areas of your lower body, you want to work out. You can pedal backward to target the hamstrings while raising the incline can put stress on the glutes. All of these areas are important for runners to optimize.

You'll burn about half of the calories on an elliptical that you would on a treadmill in the same amount of time. But if you measure your exertion by METs, you might be working harder than you think. Some say that you can actually burn an equal amount of calories on an elliptical, but it may feel more effortless due to the perceived rate of exertion. You can significantly increase the calorie burning effects if you adjust your intensity output.

So, while it’s okay to try and track your calories, stressing over the topic can lead to some unhealthy behaviors. Most computers on treadmills and ellipticals inaccurately measure the rate of your calorie burn anyway.

One major disadvantage of elliptical machines is that you can only move in a locked position and you can’t change up your form too much like you can while running on a treadmill. If you’re a runner training for a race, you’ll want to spend more of your time on a treadmill or outdoors to improve your technique. These are things you can’t achieve on an elliptical.

The elliptical also shares a common flaw with the treadmill. An ordinary session can be relatively dull, leaving you to feel as though you're only spinning your wheels and making no progress.

Best Time to Use the Elliptical

While the elliptical may not be an ideal low impact replacement for using a treadmill or running outside, it can still seriously benefit runners. If you're an athlete that has recently experienced an injury or you're overtired, an elliptical can offer the low impact exercise your body might need. It will give your joints a rest while working out other areas in your body. Variety is good for you. Spending some time moving your body differently will help to improve your sense of balance.

As a useful recovery tool, the elliptical can also be used for low-impact conditioning for a runner on their rest day. Remember, not all impact is favorable. Adding the elliptical to your workout regime can help you reap the cardiovascular benefits while avoiding the strain of intense workouts. It can be great for people needing a low-impact alternative to switch up their stale, old routine.

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Is the elliptical better than the treadmill?

It depends on your cardio machine needs. The treadmill offers a higher calorie burn, but it comes at the cost of a higher potential for injury or stress on your joints. An elliptical can provide a low impact workout, but it might take longer to get the results you’re looking for.

How effective is elliptical for weight loss? Is the treadmill or the elliptical better for weight loss?

Ellipticals can help you lose weight, but it doesn't matter if your diet isn't on point. Remember that to lose one pound of fat, you'll need a caloric deficit of 3,500. This means that you'll have to burn more calories than you consume. So, as you can see, other factors must also be accounted for. 

Is the elliptical better than running?

No, but it's pretty close. Running a mile at a steady pace will burn about 10 calories per minute. You would have to increase the speed and distance used on an elliptical to burn an equal amount of calories.

Do ellipticals help lose belly fat?

Neither a treadmill or an elliptical can specifically target fat. Both machines can help improve your body composition. When comparing the treadmill vs elliptical, as long you are consistent with your workouts and eat the right kind of diet, your belly fat should decrease along with the overall fat on the rest of your body.