Exercising from home is a great way to stay in shape without the hassle of going to a gym: you don’t have to fight traffic or wait in line to use the equipment, and you can workout whenever you want.
But what piece of home-exercise equipment is right for you?
There are two popular choices when it comes to buying exercise equipment: treadmills and elliptical machines. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so you should do a little research and find out which one suits you best. For now, here is a quick rundown of the good things and not-so-good things about treadmills and elliptical machines.
Treadmills work by using a conveyor belt that can move at various speeds in order to simulate walking or running. People of all ages can use these machines in their home to lose weight and stay in shape. They are very easy to use and some even come with apps that provide outdoor scenery you can look at while you exercise to make the experience a little more real.
The real pro of using a treadmill is that running is a great exercise that gets the heart rate up and burns calories at a nice pace. If you find your comfort zone, then you can run for extended periods of time, promoting weight loss by burning fat.
Treadmills also allow you to alter the incline of your run or walk, which simulates hills, valleys and plateaus. This will add a nice variety to your workouts and you can even program many treadmills to adjust the incline automatically as you run, so all you have to do is concentrate on your exercise. The high-impact nature of running on the treadmill can also help promote stronger bones.
Elliptical machines are a little different from treadmills in that, while they still simulate running or walking, they use two tracks — one for each foot –that move in a smooth circular motion. The upshot of this is that ellipticals provide a low-impact workout.
Low-impact workouts are great for people who have been injured or who have joint problems. When you run on hard surfaces, you jolt your body with each step, which can cause or worsen an injury or pain you may have. With an elliptical, you don’t have to worry about this. The smooth motion of the tracks make it feel as if you are running on air.
Like the incline on a treadmill, you can adjust the resistance on an elliptical to provide a more intense workout. Each model has different options, so check out the latest elliptical reviews before you decide on one.
The biggest con with treadmills is the risk of injury. Because of the high-impact nature of the workout when you are running, you can run the risk of typical runner’s injuries, such as shin splints or knee pain. If you haven’t exercised much in the past, or if you have a history of joint or back pain, then you should think carefully before using a treadmill.
Despite the equipment manufacturer’s best efforts, running on a treadmill may not translate to the same benefits as outdoor running. If you are training to run, then real running is best. The treadmill actually reduces some of the effort of running because it helps pull you along. Also, you don’t experiment wind resistance or changes in terrain like with outdoor running, so you may find that it gets a little boring after a while.
A big concern with elliptical is starting out too fast. Because you are pushing the pedals without picking up your feet, there is a risk of injury for beginners because they may not realize how much effort goes into their workout. Newbies can experience uncomfortable legs burning that can last well after the session is over. Of course, a little burn is what you want while exercising, but too much can be a sign of injury. So take it slow at first at get used to it.
Whereas the low-impact workout is good for some people, others want a little high-impact workout, which the elliptical can’t provide. High-impact has its benefits as well, so if joint or back pain isn’t a problem, you should think hard before purchasing an elliptical.
Both treadmills and elliptical offer great exercise possibilities with a little bit concern for some people. Figure out what you want to gain from your exercise routine and find the piece of equipment that’s right for you.
Jonathan Talbot writes about sport and fitness in his online articles. He works part-time as a personal trainer, hoping one day to make this a full time career.