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Difference between Treadmill and Elliptical

Treadmill and Elliptical both are stationary exercise or cardio machines. Both are designed to provide an effective cardiovascular workout, burn calories and improve aerobic capacity. Both are used in different ways and offer slightly different health and fitness related benefits. Let us see how treadmill differs from elliptical!


A treadmill is a stationary exercise machine commonly found in the gyms. It has a moving belt as a running surface and comes in both manual and motorized models. It has unique features such as adjustable speeds and inclines to vary your workout. Thus, it allows you customize your speed and slope to get a perfect workout. A commercial treadmill can go as fast as 20 km/hr. It is an ideal machine for walking, running or climbing in the same place. The first treadmill was developed by William Staub, a mechanical engineer, in the late 1960s. This machine works for a variety of purposes or fitness goals. It offers you one of the best ways to burn calories in order to lose weight or maintain your physique.


It is also a stationary exercise machines like treadmill. It is designed to allow your body to emulate a running motion without causing the impact on your joints unlike treadmills. Most of the elliptical also allow you to walk in reverse which helps activate different muscle groups including the quads.

It is one of the user-friendly machines found in the cardio section of a gym or health club. You just need to step into the pedals and walk or run. As your feet are always on the pedals, you don't have to bear the repeated hammering impact of each footfall unlike treadmill. So, as compared to treadmill, an elliptical workout is both quieter and comfortable. Elliptical provides you total body workout and targets more muscles than running. It works your quads, glutes, hamstrings and core muscles and calves to some extent.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between treadmill and elliptical are as follows:

Treadmill Elliptical
It tones and strengthens the muscles in the lower part of the body. It tones and strengthens muscles in the upper and lower body part of the body.
It is slightly less efficient at burning calories. It burns more fat and calories as it requires less effort.
It can have high impact on joints. It has no impact on joints.
It may cause injury due to the impact on joints. It is safer as it exerts less pressure on joints.
It offers fewer options, e.g. you can change speed and incline. It offers more options related to movement and intensity.
It is easy to use, does not require much expertise or coordination. It requires coordination so may be difficult for the beginners.
Not suitable for elderly people and people with joint pain or other chronic diseases. It is an ideal machine for elders, obese people, or people with joint pain or chronic diseases who require gentle workout.
Maintenance cost is more as it requires regular maintenance. Maintenance cost is less as it does not require regular maintenance.
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