Two of the most popular cardiovascular machines are the treadmill and elliptical machine. Go to any gym across the country and you'll see rows of each of these in all likelihood. And if you're a regular gym-goer, most likely you've used one of these two machines.
But for those considering the purchase a cardio workout machine for a home gym, or for regular use at the public gym, it's often difficult to know which one is best. The short answer is that neither are better since they are all different, but each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let's review some of these attributes.
Which One Burns More Calories?
Many think that since the elliptical uses both upper and lower body limbs, it burns more calories than the treadmill, and in theory this seems logical. Full body workout such as cross-country skiing, rowing, etc are considered the best cardiovascular workouts that burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.
But according to Thomas Altena, professor of nutritional and exercise physiologist of the University of Missouri-Columbia who conducted a study on oxygen retention, heart rate, lactic acid, and rate of exertion: "Physiological responses associated with elliptical exercise were nearly identical to treadmill exercise ". Another study shown that by widening the stride length of an elliptical, the caloric burn can be increased.
Similarly, Brett Spottke from Exercise Equipment Expert found that a 150 lb adult will burn up to 741 calories per hour with a treadmill and 591 on an elliptical, all things being equal.
Versatility and Ease of Use
As we eluded to above, since ellipticals use both the upper and lower body limbs, incorporating a full body workout, they are more versatile. Additionally, and this is one of the most significant benefits they offer, ellipticals are very low impact machines compared to treadmills. So they are better for a wider audience, from the everyday fitness enthusiast, to the elderly and temporarily or permanently injured.
Contrastingly, treadmills put stress on the joints while walking, jogging or running. This leads to injury concerns, especially for the elderly and injured. So elliptical machines are the better choice for these groups by far.
Regardless of your choice, both treadmills and ellipticals are excellent machines that will greatly enhance your long term fitness level and health when used regularly.