Client Question: I am thinking of buying a cardio machine for my home. Should I get an elliptical trainer or a treadmill?
Trainer Gina’s Answer:
Both an elliptical and a treadmill may be a good choice. The best machine is primarily THE ONE YOU WILL ACTUALLY USE! That being said, first and foremost, you need to have worked out on both to really understand which you prefer. If you have not experienced both machines, check out a local gym on a day pass and try what is out there. Make sure you work out longer than five minutes—you need to experience the machine during a real workout.
It’s possible to burn a lot or just a little calorie-wise on either a treadmill or an elliptical—either machine allows for workouts at a variety of intensities. How hard you work will determine the burn. Don’t necessarily trust the readout of the machine—especially with ellipitcal trainers, which are known to overestimate the calorie burn. At the same time, people tend to be able to burn more calories with a lower perceived exertion on the elliptical, so it can really go both ways.
All things being equal, treadmills offer greater variety of workouts, from jogging on flat or incline to walking on flat or incline. Treadmills also can accommodate the whole family—sometimes the stride on an elliptical, especially a less expensive home model—doesn’t accommodate the tallest or shortest members of the family. However, for someone who simply doesn’t like the treadmill, or someone who can go outside for walking or jogging, the elliptical will offer more variety of cardio and ultimately will get used more.
Make sure you test out the model you are interested in before you buy—ellipticals especially can have a vastly different feel. Also be wary of buying the cheapest model—you often get what you pay for with these cardio machines. There is no need to buy a $3000 machine, but at the same time the cheapest model probably really is the ‘cheapest’ model.
Used machines can be a good choice because, usually ‘used’ means barely used, for the average person who bought the machine with high hopes. But check everything out and ask lots of questions before you buy.