Elliptical Trainer vs. Treadmill: Which One is Better for Cardio Health and Losing Weight?

Two of the most familiar gym equipment are the elliptical trainer and the treadmill. It is therefore not surprising to see a lot of fitness buffs take to these fitness equipment either to condition their cardiovascular functioning or to burn calories and help them with their weight loss efforts, or even both. But one question remains in the minds of most fitness buffs: Which of these two gym equipment is better for losing weight and cardiovascular health?

To answer this one needs to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both the elliptical trainer and the treadmill. Once you gain an understanding of these pros and cons, you will be in a much better position to decide for yourself which is better.

The Treadmill

running-on-treadmillEver since it was first introduced in 1968, although they’ve been around since the 18th century, the treadmill has become the preferred equipment not only for fitness buffs but also for those in the medical and physical rehabilitation professions, especially in the diagnosis of heart and lung conditions. It effectively puts the joys of walking, running, jogging, and sprinting all into one-convenient package so that you won’t have to go far.

The treadmill is versatile. You can adjust the speed, angle of incline, and the addition of multiple training programs into the treadmill to suit any particular need. It also encourages natural movement. There are plenty of fitness equipment today that call for very awkward, anatomically incorrect body movements. Its weight-bearing effect can help strengthen the muscles and bones of the legs and feet. This can have an effect in your posture as well as sustainability especially when you get older. Running on a treadmill requires you to propel your body forward and this requires substantial effort. This helps your body burn more calories. Lastly the treadmill is well-documented, well-researched. The original treadmills were designed specifically for the diagnosis of cardiac and pulmonary conditions. Because of this, the treadmill has been the subject of many researches leading to the continuous development and improvement of the equipment. You can say today’s modern treadmills have already reached a near-perfect state.

However, for individuals with joint problems, the treadmill may not be an ideal equipment. It can put unwanted stress on your knee, hips, ankle, and spine especially if you forget to warm up. Depending on your skill level, running on an incline can be especially difficult. It can be a safety concern as losing your footing can lead to fall-related injuries.


The Elliptical Trainer

elliptical-vs-treadmill-image-1First introduced in the market in the early part of the 1990s, the elliptical trainer, also known as a cross-trainer, was deemed the answer to one of the issues raised on the use of treadmills – the effects of impact forces on the joints of the body particularly the knees, spine, hips, and ankles. These are designed to provide cardiovascular workout and weight loss in a non-impact manner.

Aside from its non-impact features, elliptical trainers allow for cross-training. This allows you to exercise not only your lower body but your upper body as well. There are also elliptical trainers that allow you to reverse your strides so you can stimulate or activate various groups of muscles that may otherwise not be activate in a straightforward manner.

The downside of some elliptical trainers is that they provide less dynamism. Some may offer an incline but it is usually less effective compared to that of the treadmill. It also has a weight-bearing effect but it’s not as substantial as that in treadmills.

Treadmill vs. Elliptical Trainer

One particular study conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin shows that individuals who jogged on the treadmill for at least one hour burned 705 to 866 calories. Individuals taking to the elliptical trainer have been estimated to burn 773 calories for the same amount of time. While it is obvious that treadmills have the upper hand in this particular case, it should be noted that in other studies, the variances are somewhat negligible. Both elliptical trainer and treadmill can be excellent tools for conditioning the cardiovascular system, increasing aerobic capacity. Both have also been shown to produce weight loss effects.

The Bottom Line

If you have problems in your knee joints or prefer a non-impact exercise, then the elliptical trainer is for you. This also include nagging injuries or you have problems with your weight-bearing mechanisms. You can also use this for your high intensity interval training especially if you want to burn more calories.

If you need versatility, you don’t have any joint issues, and you want to push yourself against the machine, then the treadmill is for you. Supporting your body weight while pushing yourself to run as fast as the machine goes can really help you burn those calories. However, you need to know your physical limitations as injuries can happen.

It should be obvious that you can use either the elliptical trainer or the treadmill if you want to improve your cardiovascular conditioning as well as lose weight. That said, it is perfectly okay to use either machines alternately to avoid monotony as well as activate more groups of muscles.

If you are thinking about getting either machine, you can check my latest reviews for a recommended treadmill here and elliptical trainer here.

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