Elliptical or Treadmill? Which Is Right for You?

It’s a new year, and let’s be honest: everyone’s hoping 2021 treats us better than 2020 did. Among all sorts of other disruptions, millions of people had their fitness routines disrupted in 2020. Quarantines, isolation, gym closures and distancing measures all put a damper on getting or staying fit.
At the same time, working from home and elevated stress levels led many to pack on a few extra unwanted pounds. If there’s ever been a year where people are ready to recommit to fitness, this is it.
Yet the pandemic isn’t over yet. Most gyms are still closed, and going to them (even if open) could be putting your health at risk. Many are looking for at-home fitness equipment to help them reach their fitness goals more safely.
Two of the most common pieces of cardio fitness equipment are the elliptical and the treadmill. Both are effective in their own ways. But both are expensive and bulky, as well. If you’re like most people, you don’t have room for both at home. In fact, finding room for one is challenging enough.
If you have to choose between the two, it’s important to know which is best for your goals. Below, you’ll find a comparison of the two, complete with pros and cons.


The treadmill has a long history, both in gyms and at home. Its origins are actually kind of crazy: the first treadmills emerged in the 1800s as a form of prison labor. They weren’t designed for fitness; instead they provided power in the form of human exertion. As an exercise system, the treadmill has been around since the 1960s.
Treadmills use a revolving belt to allow users to walk or run without actually going anywhere. Many models offer incline adjustment to vary the intensity, and all offer speed adjustment. The faster the belt goes, the harder you have to work to keep up.

Treadmill Pros

There are numerous advantages to using a treadmill. First, treadmills allow for a pretty broad range of cardiovascular activity. From very slow walking (supported by handrails, even) to an all-out sprint, a treadmill can meet you where you are. Models with incline features increase this flexibility even further.
You can use a treadmill anytime, no matter the weather, allowing you to keep up your fitness regardless of how hot or cold it gets outside.
Most models allow you to track your heart rate and calories burned, and you can always choose to put a TV in your treadmill room. For some people exercising while getting lost in a TV show is more interesting than running through their community or on a trail.
Some upscale models, like Peloton, come with attached screens where you can participate in group workouts. Some people find that this helps them stay consistent. Advanced models also offer programmable settings, including simulated varied terrain.

Treadmill Cons

Treadmills do have a number of cons. First, they can be exceedingly monotonous, much more so than a “real-world” run. Second, many runners insist that treadmill running doesn’t develop muscles as evenly as real-world running due to the mechanism involved. You’re not propelling yourself forward as much as you’re avoiding being propelled backward.
The mechanism of running on a treadmill can also feel unnatural. There’s no wind resistance and no variation of speed or terrain. It may burn calories, but it isn’t much like anything else in sports or athletics.
Also, treadmill injuries are more common than you might imagine. One step off the side of the belt can cause a sprained ankle, and certainly getting propelled off the back rarely ends well. Additionally, the repeated impact of running anywhere – and especially on a treadmill – is too much for many adults with knee, ankle or hip problems.
Treadmills also have some serious moving parts. The motor turning the belt has significant power requirements, and the belt and associated mechanisms receive a ton of wear. There are lots of chances for something to break, which is why a treadmill extended warranty is so important to have.


Ellipticals or cross trainers are much newer. They hit the scene in the 1990s in response to some of the flaws of treadmills. With an elliptical, riders follow a smooth motion that’s somewhere between jogging and bike-riding.

Elliptical Pros

Ellipticals are better for people with joint issues. There’s far less pressure and no impact pressure. Many riders find them more comfortable, especially for longer workout sessions. The handles on an elliptical move back and forth, providing mild upper body exertion as well. Additionally, depending on the model you choose, stride lengths may be fixed or adjustable.

Elliptical Cons

Some riders don’t feel that the elliptical offers the same level of intensity as a treadmill. It can, but only with resistance and incline cranked way up. Also, the stride of an elliptical machine is unique, and especially short so taller users might not feel like it lines up with their gait on fixed models.

Whichever You Choose, Get an Extended Warranty to Match

Whether you settle on a treadmill or an elliptical, you need a fitness equipment extended warranty to protect your investment. Fitness equipment puts up with a lot of weight, stress and repetition. Component failures happen, even with top-end equipment.
Protect your elliptical or treadmill with a warranty from Upsie, and you can relax, knowing you’re covered if something goes wrong. Upsie warranties are hassle-free and thorough, offering in-home repairs, giving you the protection and peace of mind you’re looking for.

Learn More About Elliptical or Treadmill Warranties:

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.