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Treadmill vs Elliptical: What's the difference?

Treadmill vs Elliptical: What's the difference?

When it comes to cardio, exercise machines are a great way to raise your heart rate without having to go outside in undesirable weather and road conditions. When choosing your machine, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Here are some of the benefits of both treadmills and ellipticals to help you choose which machine will work best for you:

Benefits of Ellipticals

  • Low impact – Ellipticals are a good way to get cardio while being friendly to your joints and to your back.
  • Upper body workout – Most elliptical trainers include moveable handles which allow you to exercise your upper and lower body at the same time.
  • Versatility – You can control the pace by moving your legs slower or faster as well as increase the resistance to the level that you desire.
  • Interactive – Ellipticals provide significant feedback to users including heart rate, distance, and calories burned. ProForm ellipticals, in particular, are programmed with iFit, providing you with a library of workouts and additional features.
  • Multiple muscle activation – Many elliptical machines also enable you to stride in reverse meaning you can activate additional leg muscles for your workout.

Benefits of Treadmills

  • Variety – Running on a treadmill provides many of the same benefits as running outside. You can run at varying speeds, and change the incline to prepare for the hills that may occur in actual races or runs.
  • Flexibility – The treadmill keeps you going at whatever pace you set. Whether you’re a beginner or you’re at an advanced level, you set the speed that works for you.
  • Ease of use – Since it mimics our daily walking, most people find a treadmill very easy to use.
  • Interactive – Treadmills provide significant feedback to users including heart rate, distance, and calories burned. ProForm treadmills, in particular, are equipped with iFit, providing you with unlimited workouts as well as nutritional recommendations.
  • Home use – Treadmills easily fit within rooms with an average-sized ceiling height. Some other types of equipment require more headroom to operate effectively.

So, which is better?

The answer is both, depending on your fitness goals and personal preferences.  If your main focus is speed intervals and endurance training to help you be a better runner, then a treadmill is probably your best option.  If you want to minimize your impact while cross-training, then an elliptical trainer is your choice.

Both offer cardiovascular benefits, targets large muscle groups, improves balance and stability, and reduces stress.  They also help you burn more calories which, when combined with a healthy diet, promotes weight loss. Both ellipticals and treadmills enable users a way to work out in the comfort of their home instead of having to go to a gym.

Many people choose to use both machines to achieve better overall fitness. It’s up to you!

Author: Bailey Layton, Utah State University

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