Heard of the new elliptical exercisers, but not sure what they are? Want to know if an elliptical would be a better purchase for you than a treadmill?

We’ll walk (or run) you through a description of each, and tell you the advantages and disadvantages.

We Know: The Difference between Elliptical Exercisers and Treadmills

What’s a treadmill?

Treadmills are exercise machines used in both gyms and at home for walking and running indoors. Basically, a treadmill uses a belt looped around rollers, propelled by an electric motor, and supported by a deck on a metal frame to create a walking and running path. Treadmills have various electronic controls that enable you to alter the speed of the belt, change the pitch (incline) of the deck, and monitor your progress, such as how many calories you’re burning.

In general, treadmills help you to burn calories more quickly than exercise on other types of equipment, such as stair machines, rowing machines, exercise riders, and exercise bikes.

What’s an Elliptical Exerciser?

Elliptical Exercisers are a combination of stair climbing machines and cross-country ski machines. Ellipticals designed for home use create resistance by extending a band around a flywheel rim. Instead of just walking or running along a belt path, you place your feet on pedals that move in an oval-shaped motion, while holding handles that you move in sync with your legs. In this way, it’s more like cross-country skiing than walking or running. The machine provides exercise for both arms and legs.

Ellipticals burn slightly fewer calories then a treadmill for the same amount of time.




Choose the Elliptical for a Lower Impact Workout

If you have joint problems or are over 55, an elliptical could be a better choice for you. The pedaling motion required is much easier on joints than running on a treadmill. Ellipticals also provide a weight-bearing form of exercise that helps protect your bones against osteoporosis. They’re also better than treadmills for folks with knee problems.

In addition, an elliptical also may provide an upper body workout that is only possible on treadmills that come with an added upper body feature.


Treadmills may be easier for beginners and more challenging for experts.

Treadmills may actually be a little easier for the novice to learn, since they don’t require coordinating a hand motion with foot motion. But most people should be able to master ellipticals. Also, experienced exercisers who like a challenge may find even the maximum resistance on some elliptical machines too easy to provide an aerobic benefit.

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