Most fitness centers offer a selection of both treadmills and elliptical machines. Both machines are good for getting in some of the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. You can also expect some fitness gains as you get your heart rate up and maybe even your weight down. Still, especially when lines are long you may be wondering about the advantages of one machine over the other. Here is what you need to know.

Exercising on a treadmillBenefits of treadmills

  • The treadmill can be a suitable training alternative for runners during inclement weather or unsafe outdoor conditions.
  • The cushioned surface provides support to your knees and joints. This is especially important if you run more than walk because it helps you avoid injuries.
  • You can program the treadmill to set a pace that is challenging and helps you stay on track rather than slow down as you might do on the elliptical which moves at your pace.
  • Treadmills mimic a movement that you are already familiar with – walking, so there is no learning curve.

Disadvantages – Treadmills do not engage your upper body as the elliptical does. Many users become bored on the treadmill.

elliptical walker trainer man and woman at black gymBenefits of ellipticals

  • Ellipticals provide a great way to get in some low-impact aerobic exercise.
  • They provide some activity for your upper body with the bar movements.
  • Ellipticals give you the opportunity to exercise the calves and hamstrings with the reverse pedaling option.
  • You can adjust the resistance to target certain muscles such as your glutes.

Disadvantages – the movements and strides you are forced to stick to on the elliptical may feel unnatural and lead to injury.

The bottom line – there is a good reason your fitness center provides a selection of both machines. They offer a good workout and yield all the benefits you get with regular aerobic activity. Add them both to your fitness repertoire to keep things interesting.