Elliptical Cross Trainer Vs. Treadmill

young woman jogging on a treadmill
Treadmills offer many health benefits. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Treadmills and elliptical trainers eliminate weather as an excuse for not exercising. They are both easy to use and offer health benefits to you regardless of your fitness level. Like all workout equipment, each has its advantages and disadvantages, which mostly depend on your physical condition and workout goals.

When a Treadmill Is Best

Running at the fitness club
Running on a treadmill. (Image: YouraPechkin/iStock/Getty Images)

Treadmills offer both low- and high-impact workout routines based on your workout goals. You can walk at a slow, controlled pace or run at your full potential. Treadmills can increase your bone density while also burning more calories than the elliptical. If you’re increasing your cardiovascular routine so you can run long distances, the treadmill accurately records your distance. The intensity of your run can be increased by elevating the incline on your treadmill. Running on rough surfaces can be stressful on connective tissues in your legs, so the soft and flat surface of the treadmill belt can reduce your risk of injury, according to Running Planet.

Elliptical Advantages

Couple using elliptical machines
Elliptical machine. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The elliptical offers a no-impact cardiovascular workout that is gentle on your joints. Compared with a treadmill, the elliptical is less stressful on the knees, hips and back. Depending on the type of elliptical, some offer handles to exercise your arms and legs simultaneously. Although treadmills typically burn more calories, ellipticals with handles burn more calories than ellipticals that offer only leg movement. Ellipticals offer you the option of pedaling forward or backward, which strengthens different muscle groups. You can also include strength building in your elliptical routine by increasing the intensity of your workout.

Where the Treadmill Falls Down

Couple walking
Walking outdoors provides wind resistance. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Running and walking outdoors offers wind resistance, which increases the intensity of your workout. A treadmill not only removes this resistance but also does some work for you because of the moving belt under your feet. If you run or walk outdoors, you can adjust to a changing surface if you step off your path. It requires practice to safely step off the moving belt of a treadmill.

Bone and Joint Issues

young woman sitting on the floor touching her bandaged foot
Joint pain may be an issue. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Although training on an elliptical is more comfortable than a treadmill, you lose the ability to build your bone density. If you have painful joints, there are no disadvantages to using the elliptical since you’re able to get an effective cardiovascular workout with less strain. If you’re trying to lose weight and your joints become less problematic, include a treadmill in your routine. Even if an elliptical has handles, there are still greater weight loss benefits with a treadmill.

The Importance of Posture and Safety

"Group of doctors smiling, portrait"
Consult your doctor. (Image: Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Before starting a new workout routine, consult with your doctor to determine the best method for you. For both ellipticals and treadmills, maintain good posture by keeping your head up and your abs tight. To reduce your risk of injury, treadmills have safety clips that attach to your clothing so the moving belt stops if you fall. Discontinue your exercise if you become dizzy, fatigued or nauseated.

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