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treadmills
burning calories
beats per minute
elliptical machines
cardio machines
heart rate
workouts
treadmill
matter of fact
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Are Treadmills Better Than Ellipticals?
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Are Treadmills Better Than Ellipticals?

‘Are treadmills better than ellipticals still?’ is a question I hear often. Like you, the people who ask that are in the market for a cardio machine and want to get the most out of exercising. By better, they mean, of course, which one uses up the most calories?

Read on and find out which machine burns up more calories. And what it means for you.

I'm partial to treadmills, as I've used them forever. So when I came across people claiming that their elliptical workouts are better because they burn more calories than my workouts, I decided to investigate.

Note, I did not do that when I came across people claiming that the treadmill burned the most calories. As a matter of fact, I said to myself, ‘Yeah, that's true’. For no other reason that I’d used treadmills forever.

Anyway, while treadmills and elliptical machines duke it out for market share and fans of treadmills proclaim the treadmill to be the king of cardio machines while the fans of elliptical machines proclaim it to be the reigning monarch, studies show that they're about the same.

According to a study published in the "Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research" (June 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 6 - pp 1643-1649) that tested college students, elliptical workouts get your heart rate higher but you use about the same number of calories. (I know that there are tons of sites that say the treadmill is better at burning calories, but they’re relying on older information, or no information they care to disclose).

(Higher by 16 beats per minute. However, the higher rate might have been due to the to the subjects' not being used to elliptical machines. Might have been due to the arms being used. The researchers couldn't tell).

The above research notwithstanding, I remain a fan of treadmills. However, I now no longer proclaim elliptical machines inferior to treadmills when it comes to burning calories and have started to learn to like the low impact factor.

So, if you're in the market for a cardio machine, or just want the maximum bang for your cardio effort, calories used is not, should not be, the deciding factor. And both machines engage stabilizing muscles, both are weight-bearing (which is good for maintaining bone density), so these should not be deciding factors either.

The deciding factors should be the differences in how the machines work. The most notable of the differences are the use of handles (elliptical machines can come with movable handles that can be used to exercise part of your upper body) and the low impact on joints with elliptical machines.

And the supreme factor in your choice should be this: Which machine are you more likely to use consistently and longest? Because cardio machines produce results only when used consistently, repeatedly and over time.


Street Talk

Good article. I say run outside, enjoy the fresh air and get some vitamin D.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Exercising outside is a whole other article, Mark. But you're right, it's definitely got benefits you don't get from exercising inside... And if you have a bike, you can get them and get low impact. And, generally speaking, if you ask me, it's more fun...

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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