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Ellipticals Vs. Treadmills: Which Is More Effective?

Ellipticals and treadmills are two of the most popular and pervasive pieces of cardiovascular equipment – but which is more effective? The answer really depends on the individual exerciser.


There is no question that treadmills are effective at incinerating calories and boosting metabolism – especially when used as part of an interval training program. They also allow for some variety, as exercisers can select different speeds and inclines. And, because the motion of walking, jogging or running on a treadmill is high-impact, it’s very effective at improving bone density and strength.

But, because of the high-impact nature of treadmill exercising, it’s not appropriate for all populations. As such, older individuals – as well as people with injuries or joint issues – may need to steer clear of treadmills. In addition, treadmills do not provide a total body workout; the exercise is limited to the body’s lower half.


Because ellipticals have arm bars, they activate both the lower and upper body – providing a more efficient workout; many people are able to burn more calories on an elliptical than a treadmill. Ellipticals also provide more variety, including the ability to pedal backwards.

But, exercising on a elliptical is less beneficial for bone strength and density, and it is less helpful for athletes that are training for running events like marathons or a 5k.

It comes down to YOU

Ellipticals and treadmills are both great pieces of exercise equipment. Since there are pros and cons of each – at the end of the day, much of it comes down to personal preference; there is no clear winner. For most people, the most effective machine is the one you most enjoy and the one you’re most likely to stick with (which may include a combination of both).

My heart is with the treadmill. I’ve never had an elliptical workout that can compare to a set of intervals on the treadmill; I work harder, burn more calories and see better results. What about you – which machine do you prefer and why?