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Stationary Exercise Bikes Or Treadmills: Which Is Better?
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You've decided that you are going to chuck that expensive gym membership that you never use and exercise at home. You've determined what your fitness goals are. You've set a budget for equipment. You know how much space you can allocate for your new equipment. There's just one piece of the puzzle left to put in place. You've decided to concentrate on cardiovascular workouts, so you are torn between a treadmill and an exercise bike. Which one will be best for you?

Let's take a look at some of the pluses and minuses for each.

The biggest obstacle to any home exercise program is boredom. At home, you don't have the distractions you have at the gym. Nor do you have the variety of equipment a gym has. Keeping yourself engaged so you will want to stick with your exercise routine will be a challenge with either a treadmill or exercise bike. Which one will be easier to overcome boredom?

On a treadmill you walk. You can walk slowly or you can walk fast. You can even run. To keep things interesting, you can change the incline so that you are walking or running uphill. That's about it. You can't read to pass the time because of the up-and-down walking motion. You can listen to tunes on your iPod and you can even watch videos on your iPad, but watching a video, you still have to contend with the bouncing walking motion.

With a recumbent exercise bike, you can read a book or magazine. Like the treadmill, you can listen to your iPod. Watching an iPad would be a challenge. On an upright exercise bike, depending on the model you choose, you can work your arms while you pedal.

Most exercise bikes have programs that simulate various biking conditions. You can set up programs that make you pedal uphill, sprint, and perform at different resistance levels during one workout. You can even select programs that randomly change conditions so you don't know what's coming next. On some models you can even plug into video game consoles to simulate pedaling through a visual course.

Defeating boredom: Exercise bike 1, treadmill 0.

Even though you want a good cardio workout, a secondary consideration is calories burned and weight loss. A study found that on average, people burn 750 calories per hour on a treadmill and 550 calories per hour on an exercise bike. If that were the only consideration, you would choose a treadmill over an exercise bike.

However, you have to take into account the boredom factor. You are probably more likely to stick with an exercise bike routine than a treadmill workout. Most people find it easier - and less boring - to workout on stationary exercise bikes, so they are more likely to spend more time exercising. More time spent equals more calories burned. Strictly speaking, treadmills burn more calories per unit of time, but you should consider burning fewer calories per hour in favor of a longer exercise routine.

Calorie factor: Exercise bike 1, treadmill 1

It is a fact that no matter what type of exercises you do and what types of equipment you use, there is the potential for injury if you aren't careful.

Have you ever been on a treadmill and set the speed just a little too fast and the incline a little too high? You might need to slow down but the treadmill keeps moving and if you're not careful it will throw you right off. Or you might be moving at a good pace but take a misstep. In a heartbeat you are on the floor.

It's pretty tough to fall off an exercise bike. You control the speed at which you pedal; the bike doesn't. If you're pedaling too fast, you simply slow down. You don't get your butt tossed on the floor.

You also have to consider the stress of the activity itself on your body. Walking at a brisk pace or running for any period of time puts a lot of stress on your joints, especially your ankles and knees. Walking and running are considered high-impact exercises for good reason. You body absorbs a lot of pounding. People have suffered stress injuries from running or walking fast for extended periods of time. If you have some pre-existing conditions such as arthritis you will find a treadmill painful.

Exercise bikes put much less stress on your joints. Your weight is supported on the seat, not resting on your legs. The rotating motion is smooth, not pounding like walking fast or running, so your knees, ankles, and hips don't have to absorb repeated impacts.

Bottom line, with stationary bike workouts you are less likely to sustain an injury. You are also less likely to ache after a workout. Let's face it, if you hurt after you workout you will likely spend more time between workouts and you will work out less aggressively. You won't face these issues with an exercise bike, so you are more likely to stick with your exercise routine.

Safety: Exercise bike 1, treadmill 0

Total Score: Exercise bike 3, treadmill 1

It is a fact that treadmills are the most popular piece of home fitness equipment. But, you will find that you will get more use out of an exercise bicycle and be more likely to stick with your fitness program.

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