How Do I Decide between a Treadmill or Elliptical?

Christina Edwards

Treadmills and elliptical trainers, or ellipticals, are two similar types of exercise equipment. Choosing between a treadmill or elliptical is primarily a personal choice. For those who enjoy walking, a treadmill is usually the way to go. Using an elliptical, however, is typically considered a more low-impact exercise. Basic treadmills are also slightly more economical.

Elliptical machines are often harder for novices to use.
Elliptical machines are often harder for novices to use.

The main component of a treadmill is a long, flat conveyor belt. Once the machine is turned on, this belt begins to move, and a person can walk in place on it. Many treadmills also allow the user to change the intensity of the workout by increasing the speed or raising the incline of the machine.

Treadmills offer a higher impact workout than elliptical machines.
Treadmills offer a higher impact workout than elliptical machines.

Designed in the early 1990s, an elliptical trainer is a fairly newer piece of exercise equipment. It consists of two pedals on which a user puts his feet. The feet then move in an oval, or elliptical, path.

Individuals trying to choose between a treadmill or elliptical may notice that there is a slight difference in the difficulty levels of these two machines. A treadmill is basic and very simple to use — all a person has to do is get on it and walk or run. These are very natural actions, and no special training is usually required.

When first using an elliptical machine, on the other hand, some individuals may find it slightly more difficult than a treadmill. These types of exercise machines typically require a little more coordination. After a few minutes on the machine, however, most people will get the hang of it. Since ellipticals are generally easy to learn, the difficulty levels of the two machines should not be much of a factor when trying to choose a treadmill or an elliptical.

If you are a marathon runner, choosing between a treadmill or elliptical will usually be relatively simple. Experts recommend marathoners train by actually running, either outdoors, on a track, or on a treadmill. On the other hand, if you do not enjoy walking or running, a treadmill may not be for you. Instead, you may want to choose an elliptical.

You may also want to consider your physical health when trying to choose a treadmill or elliptical. Generally speaking, regular walking or running may worsen chronic pain or injuries, especially in the knees. Elliptical trainers, on the other hand, offer a low-impact exercise. They are often recommended for patients recovering from leg injuries, and elderly individuals.

If you are choosing exercise equipment for your home gym, you should keep your budget in mind when trying to decide between a treadmill or elliptical. Usually basic treadmills, with very few features, can be purchased for very little money. Elliptical trainers may cost a little more.

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