What is a better workout-elliptical or treadmill? That all depends on who you ask. As far as gym equipment goes, the treadmill and elliptical are two machines that have led exercise equipment sales for quite a number of years.
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While the treadmill has been on the market much longer, the elliptical has proven to be such a popular machine that it has caught up to the treadmill in sales, even with such a short life.
Each piece of exercise equipment is designed to accomplish specific goals. In order to compare the elliptical and the treadmill, or any number of exercise equipment pieces for that matter, you have to look at what each machine is designed to accomplish and whether or not it does what it says. In other words, we're not comparing apples to apples. When comparing which type of machine gives the better workout, we are comparing apples to bananas to pineapples to oranges. Yum!
Does an elliptical machine provide a good workout?
An elliptical machine is an excellent choice for providing a workout which is intense in the cardio department, but low-impact on the joints and bones. Whereas walking and running expose the lower body to forces up to 2 1/2 times your body weight, using an elliptical is almost like running on air. Your feet never leave the pedals so you do not experience the impact that you would with a treadmill. This makes the elliptical an ideal machine for older people with deteriorating joints, or those recovering from bone surgery or suffering from chronic joint disorders.
As an added benefit, the workout provided by an elliptical is beneficial to more than just your lower body. It works your legs, hips, waist, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms. In other words, the elliptical machine provides an overall workout for just about every part of your body. In addition, the swinging motion of the arms and legs combines to work your muscles in a smooth and fluid way that lends itself to low injury rates.
Does a treadmill provide a good workout?
In terms of total cardio workout value, the treadmill can be just as effective as the elliptical machine. The only difference being the fact that the treadmill only works the lower body. But the adjustable nature of the treadmill means it can be used for light or brisk walking, jogging, intense running, and even uphill motion. Depending on your specific cardio needs, you can set up your treadmill to achieve the greatest possible workout.
For die hard runners, the treadmill is a piece of equipment that allows them to engage in their exercise of choice regardless of the time of day or the weather outside. It provides the means to a good cardio workout which can be accomplished while watching TV, listening to music, or even carrying on a conversation. In contrast, the broad movement involved the elliptical machine often makes engaging in those other activities somewhat difficult while exercising.
Should I purchase both machines and alternate my routine?
Since both machines are highly effective in providing a cardio workout, it's really not necessary to purchase both and alternate your routine. Certainly, if you can find two machines at a reasonable price and you can afford it, there's nothing wrong with owning both. However, a better alternative might be to stick with just one of them and then alternate your workout with some sort of weight training. The weight training will complement your cardio fitness by toning your muscles and increasing muscle mass.
Another idea is to purchase the elliptical machine and use it when weather conditions are not conducive to running or jogging. On other days, when the weather is nice, go outside and enjoy a brisk jog through the neighborhood. Altering your exercise this way gives you a combination of high and low-impact exercises while getting you out of the house from time to time. In the long run, this type of program may be the most beneficial.
If you're thinking of buying either a treadmill or elliptical keep in mind that both are equally effective in providing a cardio workout. Which one you choose will probably come down to your preference of exercises. If you prefer to run or jog, the treadmill is right for you. If you prefer a low-impact and full body workout, you'll probably want the elliptical.
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