Elliptical machine vs. treadmill: Which one should you pick?

Most people who have worked out even a little bit know about elliptical machines nowadays. Although treadmills are the longtime dominant fitness machine for cardio exercises, elliptical machines continue to gain in popularity.
Go to any fitness club or gym that has both machines and you’ll likely see people getting great workouts on both.
If you observe people using both machines and try them yourself, it may still leave you wondering which is better.
Here are some things to consider when deciding between a treadmill or elliptical machine if you are only able to include one in your gym.
* Elliptical trainers have an edge over treadmills in that they give you an upper body workout as well thanks to the handles you grab onto.
* Ellipticals keep you secured on the footpads so there is little or no impact on your feet, knees and joints as you perform the elliptical motion.
* Many people switch to ellipticals because it’s less harsh on the joints, especially older folks.
* If you like to run or walk, nothing beats a treadmill machine. It actually cushions you more than running outside, but there is still more wear and tear than using an elliptical.
* I feel a treadmill gives you more variation on your workouts because you can vastly change the speeds, incline or decline and easily get intervals in. Of course, you can do some of those same things on an elliptical, although you can’t get the feeling of speed of running at a high rate on a treadmill.
* Treadmills offer great versatility for anyone from a rehab patient to elite athlete trying to push themselves in high-impact running.
* Ellipticals can be good for someone looking to change up their workout or get more motivation as it’s a different type of movement than walking – something we’ve all done for as long as we can remember.
* On the flip side, some people quickly become bored of being locked into a set motion on an elliptical and do go back to walking.
* Older people or those looking for a new twist to their workout might like the elliptical better, but whatever direction you choose both pieces of equipment offer an excellent way to improve cardio health and tone muscles.
* As far as price goes, treadmills often tend to be pricier, but if you shop around you can find bargains for both. It all depends what you’re looking for and how sturdy a piece of equipment you want.
Coming Wednesday, I’ll answer the question: Which burns more calories, treadmill or elliptical?
At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com