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What's better: treadmill or elliptical? Add to ...

The question

What do you recommend: treadmill or elliptical? I don't like running on the treadmill, so I usually just adjust the elevation from 0 to 10 at a 3.3 speed. I loath the elliptical machine, but I am told it provides a better workout.

The answer

It is difficult to recommend one machine over another in any kind of absolute terms. How much value you get out of your workout on the elliptical or treadmill depends on multiple factors, including the duration and intensity of your workout, how comfortable your body is with the activity you are doing, your current fitness level and your goals.

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Either machine can provide a good workout, as long as you are keeping your heart rate between 60 per cent and 85 per cent of your max. You can determine your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

That said, since it sounds like you predominantly use the treadmill, you may want to occasionally mix up your workouts and use the elliptical. Adding variety to your workouts will help stave off boredom, guard against overuse injuries, and ensure you are continuing to push your body so that it does not adapt and stop showing results.

Trainer's tip: If you really hate the elliptical machine, try sandwiching it between bouts on the treadmill to make the activity feel more manageable. Do 15 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the elliptical and then finish with 15 minutes on the treadmill.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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