Treadmill Vs Elliptical

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

It might feel like you are walking through a minefield trying to work out what equipment will be best for improving your fitness at home.

I understand your dilemma. Which machine will help you lose more weight? Which will give you the best cardio workout? Which one will put less stress on your joints? Or maybe you're trying to decide which of those machines you should use in the gym.

Let’s see if I can help you answer some of those questions. By highlighting some of the benefits, hopefully you can decide which is better for you. Let's dive in to the elliptical Vs treadmill.

Which one is best for Weight Loss?

The elliptical machine encompasses two different types of movement. It resembles climbing stairs and striding. There are also poles on some machines which you can hold to work out the upper body.

The intensity of the workout provided by an elliptical trainer depends on which settings you use. It also depends on the amount of effort you put in. It allows either HIIT style exercising or moderate continuous training.

By increasing the resistance, ramp height and your own stride speed,  you can increase calorie burn.

Harvard Medical School estimates that a person weighing 125 lbs will burn 270 calories in 30 mins on an elliptical machine. This increases to 400 calories for a person weighing 185 lbs.

The treadmill also allows for both types of training. Intermittent bursts of running and walking can give you a HIIT workout. Or you can choose to either walk or run continuously. You can increase the incline and speed to intensify your workout.

Harvard's calorie burn estimates for treadmill style activities are 150 calories for a 125 lb person, and 220 calories for a 185 lb person, walking for 30 minutes at 4.5 mph. Running increases the calorie burn. At 6 mph on the treadmill a 120 lb person burns 300 calories, and a 185 lb person burns 444 calories.

So if you're looking for the machine which can potentially burn the most calories, you should pick the treadmill. Read this article, if you want to learn more about losing weight on a treadmill. 

If you want to know more about which of the two machines is better for weight loss, then I recommend to watch this video:

Joint impact

Elliptical machines are low impact and tend to be easier on the joints. Your feet are permanently positioned on the pedals. As a result there is virtually no shock impact on your knees, feet, hips and back. Which is good news for heavier persons, because they tend to experience more pressure on their joints while exercising.

It can provide the benefits you would get from running while reducing the risk of stress and injury to your joints. Healthy joints can prevent complications such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

An elliptical machine can also help build and strengthen muscles, particularly the quads and hamstrings.

Elliptical trainers restrict the amount of free movement you have when exercising, which can reduce the chance of back injury. This low impact style of exercise can also help if you are physically disabled or recovering from injury.

Treadmills are not as low impact. However many are designed to absorb shocks more than if you were running or walking outside. In fact walking on a treadmill can be beneficial to knee joints.

Treadmills also allow weight bearing exercise. This can strengthen your muscles and joints, especially in the lower body, which helps prevent complications of bone diseases later in life.

There might be the potential for negative influences on posture and lower back injuries when running. However, walking is beneficial in treating lower back pain. So this will probably vary from person to person.


Both machines will allow someone new to exercise to have an aerobic workout.

A treadmill can be set to a low incline and slow speed to allow you to begin slowly. You can increase the intensity at your own pace when you feel ready.

Ellipticals also allow you to begin at a pace which suits you, but might have less stress-impact on the body. If the elliptical has moving handles and you use them, it will also allow a more full body workout. This machine can also be used pedaling in reverse, so you can vary your workout.


Some people find repetitive styles of training boring after a while.

Treadmills sometimes have built in entertainment options to keep your mind occupied while your body is getting fit. You can also try utilizing pre set programs to vary the workout and challenge yourself.

Elliptical machines can be used in a few different ways. You can either go forwards or in reverse, alternating the two to engage different muscles.

You can choose to work out just the lower body, or engage your upper body using the ski style poles. These machines alo have preset workouts which can keep you engaged, entertained and challenged.

There are devices available such as a tablet holder which can be attached to either type of machine and keep you entertained during your workout.


Both machines have their pros and cons. They both offer an effective workout in the comfort of your own home.

Weight loss can be achieved with either machine. They are both versatile enough to allow HIIT, if that’s what you want. Either one offers a good option if you are new to exercise and want to progress at a slower pace.

If you’re concerned about the impact running can have on your joints, an elliptical machine is low impact. It also allows you to crosstrain by using the poles to exercise your upper body. 

Treadmills will allow you to build strength and muscles. They could be a better fit if you want to build your running endurance.

The upshot is that both offer a good exercise option. It’s up to you to decide which would be best based on your own fitness, weight loss and health goals.

This YouTube video might also help you decide which would be best for your needs.

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Comment