The Body Blog: Elliptical Versus Treadmill

[Hey all. I am going to be starting a body blog each week, discussing one specific topic in the fitness category. Whether it be a new workout technique or a new way to eat healthy, I’m your guru for all things fitness related-ish. As an avid athlete, I have played various sports, tried new ways to stay fit and have found what works and what sure as hell doesn’t.]
Today, we’re going to discuss the difference between using an elliptical and a treadmill. Now, while I am partial to a treadmill, as I run on mine every day, I spent two years using an elliptical before I made the switch, so I’m a pro on both ends. Here’s the dish:
Elliptical:
Pros: It’s a great full body work out; while placing your feet in the holders and holding on to the handlebars, you’re body is secure, and the lack of actually lifting your feet makes this a good low impact workout for those of you with knee/leg problems. If you hold the handles and use your arms, you work your full body for the entire workout (which should be about 30 minutes at a time), and when you get off you will feel refreshed, invigorated and a bit winded (in a good way).
Cons: While you get a full body workout with the simultaneous arm and leg movements, you won’t feel exhausted when you get off in the sense that you had to push yourself to excel, like you would on other workout equipment. Also, because your feet are stationary, they can get numb over the course of the workout, which causes some discomfort. It is also very difficult to move your arms and legs at the same pace, so one part of your body may be working harder than the other (i.e., you move your arms faster to push your legs, making them do less work).
Treadmill:
Pros: If you can run, a treadmill is a low impact alternative to pavement or a track. The belt you bounce up and down on can provide a relief for your legs. Running or walking on a treadmill is a fantastic workout for your entire body because every aspect of your leg muscles needs to work. For example, if you walk on an incline, you can work your calves and thighs, while using free weights to perfect your arms. You can push yourself to any extent you want, as well as clock your distance and calories burned.
Cons: If you’re using a treadmill to run, its stressful on your body. Running, while a great workout, is damaging to your knees, your legs and your feet (not to mention it’s just plain difficult!). Years of wear and tear on your legs using a treadmill can cause problems later in life, which is not to say that other workouts aren’t damaging. Also, if you don’t have something to keep you occupied, a treadmill can be boring (really boring) because you’re not actually getting anywhere. And you are probably staring at a wall/the person’s butt in front of you. This can easily be rectified by bringing along some music, or putting that badboy right in front of a TV, but you don’t always have that option.
So, neither option is perfect, but they are both great for different reasons. While I personally prefer a good ole run on the treadmill, choose whatever works for you and gets you working out.
Which do you prefer?
Stay turned for a new workout tip next week.
(Photo courtesy of teambath.com)

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