Treadmill or Elliptical?


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bowflex_treadclimber.jpg

As I got back from the gym today, I wondered if there were any benefits to my friends and I being lazy and always choosing the elliptical over the treadmill. I hate running with a passion and this is why I always opt out of running on a treadmill. I feel insecure about people watching me and I feel miserable the entire time I'm on it. At least with an elliptical I don't feel suicidal, and it's a workout too... right? I did some research hoping to confirm my optimistic thoughts.

According to an article in the New York Daily Times by Reuters, ellipticals are a better workout than I expected. "If you can have one piece of equipment at home, you're better off with an elliptical because it uses the upper and lower body," said Angela Smith, who is an orthopedic surgeon and a competitive skater. This was a relief to me. I kept reading: Smith also said the elliptical encourages better posture. "You want to perform the exercise with good form, with the body lifted rather than slumped, using muscles in optimum way," Smith explained.

My research also found repeatedly that people with joint or muscle problems should pick the elliptical because it is non-impact. On a treadmill, you are landing hard on your feet many times. But an elliptical is one fluid motion which is better for your knees and joints. Works for me!

So girls, the moral of the story is that if you use the elliptical correctly, it's a great alternative to the feared treadmill. Thomas Altena, an exercise physiologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said: "The physiological responses associated with elliptical exercises were nearly identical to treadmill exercises."

Does anybody else hate the treadmill as much as I do and was relieved to hear that the elliptical is a great option? Or does anyone still think the treadmill is the only way to get a real workout? I was definitely surprised by what I found.

http://exercise.about.com/cs/exercisegear/a/treadelliptical.htm
http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-10-18/entertainment/27078541_1_treadmill-national-sporting-goods-association-workout

7 Comments

It's funny, because just this morning I was grumbling about how much I hate running on the treadmill. While I haven't felt the impact of it yet, this definitely makes me think I should switch it up with the elliptical every now and then. According to some researchers, the mix of running and yoga makes for the best weight loss, so I usually vary every other day of running/yoga. But it does make sense that ellipticals work more parts of the body than the treadmill, which leaves my arms feeling very limp at the end.
I wonder, do treadmills leave less of an impact if you switch it up with other pieces of machinery, or will running still ruin your knees no matter what?
Also, I avoided running for 18 years of my life, and was pretty fit from walking and yoga. So treadmills are definitely not the only way to get a workout. For those who fear running, don't despair. :)

I'm so with you when you say you hate the treadmill. At least running on it that is. I've actually found that power walking (sounds momish I know) is just as good of a workout as going on the elliptical or arc trainer. In fact, I've found that I burn just as many calories and break the same sweat walking on the treadmill as I do on any other machine. Also, I can usually last longer on the machine because I'm not so tired. Something I wonder about would be a comparative study between walking outside and walking inside on a treadmill. Do you think you would get a better workout walking outside? This article reports that both indoor and outdoor walking have their benefits, but the biggest difference between the two is that walking outdoors just means you always have access to a facility. Working out on a treadmill usually requires access to a gym.

on a personal note, I don't like using the treadmill as well because I have high blood pressure so when I am done running after like 15 minutes I feel very light headed so the elliptical is a beneficial substitute. also, some treadmills have an operation that allows you to be running on an incline for more muscle working. but, as shown by expert opinions, the elliptical is just as equal in physiological value.

I could not agree with you more on the using a treadmill - I absolutely hate it! Freshman year of high school I tried to convince myself that I could do cross country - boy was I wrong. I was not made to run. But what really pushed me to start using the elliptical was the fact that I used to dance. I did all types, but focused more on ballet, contemporary and pointe. Because of this, my ballet teacher would always tell me that running (both outdoors and on a treadmill) was very bad for me as a dancer. It forces you to contract your body inwards, losing any turnout. She said if I feel the need to go to the gym and do cardio, the elliptical was definitely a better alternative. You are moving more and loosening your body in a better way than the treadmill. So, even if you're not a dancer it is still definitely better to keep your body flexible and less constricted. Just one more reason the elliptical is the way to go!

Thank you for sharing this. I am not a runner... I did two years of cross country in high school and while I did enjoy running (sometimes) I always ended up getting shin splints. To be honest I don't really see the point of the treadmill. If you are going to run or walk as your workout, why not do it outside? Anyway, I always use the elliptical when going to the gym and I never even considered the fact that it may not be as effective as a treadmill but I'm happy to know that it actually is.
On another note my friend informed me the other day that the best and most effective way to burn calories is by lifting. He explained to me that when you lift your muscles breakdown and so after you lift your body had to build your muscles back up which ultimately burns more calories over a longer period of time than cardio. Now of course while my friend seems to be rather knowledgable about the subject I did check out the facts online and found that while cardio does burn more calories durning the workout (10-12 per minute vs. 8-10 during weight training) you do end up burning more calories while your body helps your muscles to recover.
Check out this Women's Health article for more info: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/cardio-vs-strength-training-workouts

Emma- that's really good to know. To be honest, I hardly ever lift weights. Again, I'm too lazy. But now that I know it's actually a good workout besides for toning, I might give it a try. That article was really interesting.
I'm so glad everyone agrees with me! Treadmills are awful, and now we know that the elliptical has just as many benefits. I think that in the long run, running is probably worse for your knees and joints. I like the elliptical because it's one fluid motion. On a different note- I read someone say that they don't see the point of treadmills because you can just run outside. I agree. When I run on a treadmill, I hate feeling like I'm not going anywhere and hearing the sound of the machine. Does everyone prefer running outside to running on a treadmill? I know a lot of people appreciate the air conditioning/fans of the indoors. Also I hate people watching me and that would happen more outside.

Well this article is certainly a relief and might actually convince me to stop avoiding the gym by at all costs (writing blogs is my procrastination tool at the moment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing). I really found it interesting how you addressed that the elliptical can lead to improved form, making for a better workout. However I think it's important to take into account how hard you work, regardless of whether you're using an elliptical or a treadmill. I think many people make the mistake of "taking it easy" on the elliptical. But if you're using settings with low resistance and incline, is the elliptical really that much of an improvement over using a treadmill? From my experiences I know that the most efficient way of working out is interval training. This burns more fat and increases metabolism. While this blog definitely gives the elliptical some credibility, I think it's important to note that it's benefits (sadly) don't give us an excuse to take it easy.

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