Are you thinking about investing in a piece of home exercise equipment and are wondering what the differences are between a treadmill and elliptical? Are you wondering if you should get the one that is the better value or cheaper? Or are you wondering if there are any health differences based on your lifestyle?
The biggest difference between an elliptical and a treadmill it that an elliptical is a “no impact” machine which is important for some people and it works your upper body too. And a treadmill allows a more truly realistic running movement, which may be important if you’re working on being a better runner.
But a major advantage to a treadmill versus an elliptical is that the elliptical only allows you to have a stride length that is fixed along with a forward and backward motion. The elliptical trainer is thought by many heart conscious people to be a good machine for cardio fitness. However, it really doesn’t address biomechanics and the proper timing of the ankles, knees and hips. When using this machine the function of the foot muscles is limited. Treadmills allow you to control the overlap of your feet, whereas the elliptical trainer keeps the feet a set width apart.
A treadmill is the natural way physiologically of walking or running. To live a longer and healthier life you want to make sure you have what is called “specific activity.” It can give you specific and usually necessary feedback about your proper foot placement and technique, for example – the sound of each footfall should be very quiet, an elliptical cannot do this. If you’d like to get some instant feedback with a treadmill, place a mirror in front and to the side of the unit and work on the increase in your stride. This will help reduce any harmful stress while still maximizing the lymphatic flow and drainage in the body.
An elliptical and the treadmill both stimulate the lymphatic system and its flow which is a good thing, of course, but opinions differ due to the natural function of the foot on the treadmill, where it may be deemed better. It also allows more variety, intensity and depth to workouts, for example, working both the adductors and abductors of the hips as in side-stepping. Side-stepping helps to develop both the total inner and outer functions of both legs. It also reduces any possibility for overuse issues.
Muscles of the buttocks, thighs, legs and feet are used. You can also walk backwards which is good for people who have a history of shin splints and stress fractures– this will enhance the muscular timing and biomechanics of your legs. For people who want more intensity and a challenge, try leaping high.
One very significant difference between the machines is the issue of balance. A person’s balance is not a factor on an elliptical machine as it is on a treadmill and it’s even possible that balance will improve over time. Professionals have recommended using tubing on a treadmill, attaching it behind or in front for more arm strength and upper body fitness. If you’re familiar with cross-crawl patterning, it can help with it too.
If cost is a factor, of course there are many ways to save money on these machines. From discounts to wholesale prices, low cost or cheaper equipment can easily be found online.
In the end it all depends on which machine you like and more importantly which machine you will use more. Both the elliptical and treadmill are excellent pieces of exercise equipment and only good if you use them consistently and don’t let them gather dust. In any event no matter which you choose you’re sure to benefit making them an important part of your personal health plan.