Should You Choose the Elliptical Over the Treadmill?

cardio fitness

In the battle for the best cardio machine, is the treadmill better than the elliptical?

cardio fitness

For any regular gym-goer, the debate between the treadmill and elliptical machine is very familiar. Most people tend to go for one or the other, but are always plagued with the question of whether or not the other machine might be slightly better.

The treadmill and elliptical machines are the two classic ways to get cardio, but both have benefits and drawbacks.  So here is the long and short of it:

The elliptical machine is low impact, which means you should choose it if you have any kind of lower body injury, joint pain, joint disease, or issues with your knees. The elliptical also allows your knees to move higher than a treadmill, which is good for your hips. You can control the resistance of the machine, so you can technically get a harder workout if you are feeling like a challenge. The downside is that your arms normally rest on the handles, so you don’t get the added benefit of swaying arms. You also have to keep pace with the machine, so you have less control of your speed.

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The treadmill on the other hand, is a more high-impact exercise since the act of your feet hitting the machine and coming back up can strengthen both your muscles and bones. The good thing about it is that running is excellent exercise, and on a treadmill you can do it no matter what the weather is like, as well as manipulate the ‘terrain’ and activate different muscles in the lower body. The bad news is that running on a treadmill puts pressure on your joints, which can be bad for a lot of reasons, especially if you have any kind of lower body injury.

My advice, if you have no issues preventing you from using a treadmill, is to use both. You will get the most bang for your buck if you switch your workouts up regularly, so your body never really gets used to one kind of exercise. If you feel like a challenge, hit the treadmill. If you want to take it easy on your joints, opt for the elliptical.

Either way you are getting cardiovascular exercise, which is a positive thing no matter which machine you choose.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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