19 March 2009

Treadmill or Elliptical, Which to Choose?

In the world of exercise equipment, there is a difficult decision to be made between two different, yet similar pieces of equipment: the treadmill and the elliptical machine. Which one is the right one for you? Well, I hope this article will help you make an informed decision.

When using a treadmill, you will obviously be walking, jogging, or running on it. The activity in which you are engaged, is basically limited to your lower body. Unless you happen to swing your arms as you walk, the upper portion of your body will remain, for the most part, inactive. A treadmill is perfect for the person who loves to walk or jog, yet is unable to do so outside. If you are a runner or jogger, you will find the treadmill a perfect fit for you. If you are interested in purchasing a treadmill, you will want to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, since you will want to maintain your natural stride while exercising, you will need to make sure that the tread belt is a minimum of at least 18 inches wide, with 20 inches being preferable. You will want the length of the tread belt to be a minimum of 50 inches, with 55-60 inches being preferred. Second, make sure you get a motor that will be powerful enough to handle your exercise routine. At a minimum it should be 2.0chp (chp or Continuous Horse Power is the measurement that is consistently delivered during heavy usage over an extended period of time) although 2.5chp and above would be better. If you will be using your treadmill for running, you will want to have a motor of at least 3.0chp. Last, you should check the warranties for the motor and frame. For the motor, a minimum of a ten-year warranty; for the frame and parts, you should look at 3-5 years minimum.

When using an elliptical trainer, you are not only exercising your lower body, but by using the moving handles, you will be exercising your upper body as well. Although, I have not used one, my sister-in-law has one and uses it almost daily. When asked to compare the movement of the elliptical trainer to that of a treadmill, she stated that the elliptical had a motion similar to that of cross-country skiing. Therefore, you will be exercising both your upper and lower body, thus increasing the effectiveness of your cardio workout. In addition, you also have the added benefit of not having to worry about the impact of your strides on your joints. Your feet remain on the pedals of the machine throughout your entire exercise routine, so there is no impact to your joints. You see, on the treadmill, every time you take a step, your foot will impact on the belt and the stress of that impact will be telegraphed to your joints. On an elliptical machine, you do not have that to worry about that. If you happen to have problems with your knees, hips, or other joints, you may want to lean towards purchasing an elliptical trainer.

If you are still unsure of which is right for you, I would suggest going to an exercise equipment store and taking one out for a test drive. While the motion on a treadmill is somewhat straightforward, it may take you time to get used to the motion of the elliptical machine. Whichever you decide, please take the time to research your choices. The Internet is a vast storehouse of information and you can easily find additional articles to help you choose which machine to purchase. For example, just search the phrase treadmill vs elliptical machine and you will get a wealth of information. When you have decided on the machine for you, take a look at the warranties that are offered by the company. The easiest way to discover the durability of the machine is to see how long the company is willing to stand behind it. In short, the longer the warranty, the better and more durable the machine. You may be tempted to spend hundreds less for a lower quality product, but I can tell you from experience, if you buy a machine for $500 and it has a warranty of 90 days, you can be sure that it will break down. I hope that this has helped in some small way. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will do my best to help you.

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