Ultimate fitness showdown: Who you taking, treadmill or elliptical?

Welcome to the ultimate showdown of high-end fitness equipment.
In the near corner, a longtime staple of the fitness industry and undefeated champion, the treadmill.
And in the far corner, the No. 1 challenger and serious up-and-comer, the elliptical machine.
Who is No. 1?
Statistics show treadmills are, and will continue to be, clearly the most popular piece of gym equipment.
However, for some people, the elliptical is the clear choice. But, if you’re a member of a gym, or fortunate to have space and resources at home, you can use both.
“Both have advantages and disadvantages,” Dr. Henry Williford of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) told Reuters.com. “Treadmills are more stimulating for running, while ellipticals are non-impact, if you don’t want to jar.”
Williford, a physical education and exercise science professor at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, said as a runner he favors the treadmill.
“If you’re training to do a 5K (run), obviously the treadmill is the preferred mode of exercise because it’s similar,” he said. “But my brother has arthritis. He can’t run but he can exercise on an elliptical because there’s no impact. You’re not picking your body up and down.”
Treadmills accounted for 56 per cent of all fitness sales in 2009, according to statistics from the National Sporting Goods Association. Ellipticals were a distant second at 8.4 percent.
That’s quite a gain for Ellipticals, though, as they posted a 27 percent growth in sales in 2007.
The rapidly growing number of baby boomers — the so-called “silver tsunami” of approximately 75 million Americans who are 65 or older — favor elliptical machines. The elliptical user glides rather than pounds and that can mean a smoother workout for boomers’ aging muscles and joints.
“You’ve got to keep up with a treadmill or you’ll come off the back of it,” Williford explained. “Whatever speed you set you’ve got to keep up pace. With an elliptical you can rest or slow down.”
If you want to push yourself harder, though, a treadmill may be the way to go.
Treadmills can allow you to pus yourself about as fast, or hard, as you want. You can walk, job, sprint or run for long distances on them.
No matter which you use — treadmill, elliptical or both — the American Heart Association/ACSM recommends getting 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio a day, five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorously intense cardio for 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

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