Cardiovascular training provides a complete workout for your body, sometimes using multiple muscle groups all at the same time.
Cardio can build your endurance, increase lung capacity, and also help you lose weight and build muscle, depending on your physical goals.
Exercise bikes and treadmills are the two most commonly used exercise machines in the gym and the home, but sometimes it can be difficult to decide what machine would be best suited for you and both your physical needs and goals.
We’ve put together this article to help you discover the benefits and also downsides of both the exercise bike and the treadmill, and what they’re best used for.
You will burn fewer calories on an exercise compared to running on the treadmill, that’s because your weight is supported by the seat, so you are carrying less weight when moving your legs and generally meaning your body won’t have to work as hard on the exercise bike.
The best way to burn more calories on the exercise bike is having it on a higher resistance level, this will save you from pedalling quickly like a maniac for what seems like an eternity.
Once you get used to the resistance, keep upping the level until you feel you can’t go on anymore. This is more beneficial for your cardiovascular health and will help you see more results in terms of weight loss.
The exercise bike focuses on the lower body, providing an efficient workout for your thighs, calves, and glutes but doesn’t offer a workout for your upper body as your arms are used to keep you stabilized if needed on the bike.
If you wanted to test yourself, you could incorporate some arm exercises or even light weights whilst you cycle on the bike, to engage more muscles.
That is the beauty of the exercise bike, it offers the ability to multi-task whilst getting in a good workout, even if your idea of multitasking is being able to text at the same time.
As it has a lower impact on your lower body, it serves as a great option for anyone who has bad knees, elderly people or anyone who is returning to exercise after an injury, so regardless if you’re a beginning or an athlete, the exercise bike will suit most levels and lifestyles.
Due to less strain being put on the lower body, most people will find that they can work out for longer and often enjoy exercise, which will then lead to more progress if your goals are results-based.
Whilst the exercise bike is low impact, spending long periods of time cycling can make your bum a little sore, however, you do have the option to stand up and alternate positions as you wish.
Exercise is not always everyone’s favourite pastime and sitting on the exercise bike can get a little boring after a while, especially since it is only really your legs being engaged, so we do recommend listening to music either through the built-in speaking system (if provided) or your headphones.
You could even watch Netflix on your phone to help the time go by quicker.
- Good for multitasking
- Various work out programmes on them
- Good for elderly people or people recovering from injuries
- Improves flexibility
- Good for people with poor balance
- Low impact on legs
- Quite compact machines
- Burns fewer calories in comparison to equal intensity workouts
- Focuses on just the lower body
The treadmill is the most effective way to improve cardiovascular help and also getting in a complete workout, due to the engagement of various muscle groups when running on the treadmill.
So it’s not just your legs getting in a good workout but also helping the development of back and abdominal muscles, which help steady you as you run.
As you will be moving your arms back and forth as you run as you power your body, you will help build and tone your arms.
The treadmill is the best option if your goal is weight loss and burning fat. Running on a treadmill can burn up to 600-1200 calories per hour, depending on your speed, time and incline.
Following up on that, there are various levels of workouts you can do on the treadmill which will suit most levels.
If you’re not a big lover of running but still want to lose weight, you can try a high inclined quick walk which will still burn lots of calories just without the feeling of wanting to give up every 5 seconds.
You’ve even got the option to do sprint intervals on the treadmill, which would count as HIIT training.
Running 20 seconds at a high-speed level and then walking for 10 seconds for a 10-15 minute period can be so beneficial for heart health and can burn lots of calories in a short space of time.
Running on the treadmill can be very hard on your joints, with your legs receiving a big impact every time you take a stride.
Treadmills do tend to have a softer surface to absorb the shock, but if you do have weak or problematic ankles, knees or any other body part, it is probably best to speak to a doctor before using one.
Like the exercise bike, running on the treadmill can become repetitive and boring so bringing along a killer playlist or even watching a program whilst you run can make things a little easier for yourself.
Changing up your running routine is vital to consistency as well.
You will find you dread doing the same half-hour run every day, so mix it up, start with a fast high inclined walk and then work your way into a jog and then onto sprints to finish. It keeps things fresh for yourself.
Treadmills can be very big and bulky so purchasing your own and finding a place to put in your house can be a bit of a faff, however, some fold up for storage out there on the market.
Treadmills can also be more prone to breaking down than exercise bikes, so getting this fixed or serviced will add to your cost of purchase as well.
- Burns more calories
- Works various muscle groups
- Better than running outside
- Different speeds and inclines
- Can be boring
- Can take up a lot of space
- Risk of falling
- More prone to breaking
Many different exercise machines can be used for low-impact exercise or high-intensity interval training. So whether it is a treadmill, rowing machine, cross trainer, or a stationary bike, there are a lot of options to consider.
Treadmills and stationary bikes are two of the most popular choices. Both provide an excellent aerobic workout that helps to improve fitness and aid in your weight loss goals.
Below we detail our finding on the top five reasons the research shows that treadmills have the edge over exercise bikes.
1. Treadmills provide a full-body workout, not just for toning legs!
When you run, you workout almost every muscle in your body. Of course, you work your legs, but running has been shown to help in the development of abdominal and back muscles. These are the muscles that stabilise you as you run.
Also, believe it or not, you'll get a good arm workout. Pumping your arms back and forth when you run takes effort and helps you build a strong body, not just strong legs. This can be further enhanced by holding lightweight dumbbells while you jog.
2. Treadmills burn more calories = lose weight faster
Running feels like a lot of work… because it is!
If losing belly fat is your goal, then you are going to want to hop onto a treadmill, not rest your backside on the saddle cycling along on a stationary bike.
Few cardiovascular workouts that are going to burn more calories than running does.
Treadmills typically burn 600-1200 calories per hours versus 500-1000 calories per hours on a bike. Why the difference? It's because when you're sitting on a bike you're not having to fight gravity the same way you are on a treadmill.
There are also HIIT workouts and other methods you can use to burn even more calories on the treadmill.
3. Reduce the risks of diabetes and hypertension
There are many risk factors that you can’t control when it comes to diabetes and heart disease. Some of these factors include your race, your age, and the genes you got from your parents.
Though diet is critical, treadmill exercise has been shown to play a key role in managing blood sugar.
Another study in the treadmill was shown to be better than exercise bike in tests on hypertensive subjects.
So along with burning more calories and assisting in maintaining healthy body weight, a treadmill regimen will help you reduce your chances of getting diabetes and other diseases.
4. A more challenging cardiovascular workout
A treadmill is a functional workout. There are many machines that people use in the gym that can help tone build aesthetically pleasing muscles. However, one of the biggest criticisms of some of these machines is that they have limited functional carry over to everyday activities.
For example, it means that on a stationary bike you are working your muscles in a range of motion that you typically won't do in everyday activities. Fitness is 'sport specific' so although a bike will undoubtedly make you a better cyclist than a treadmill, it won't help you as much when your out and about living your life.
A treadmill is a very functional way of working out because you use your muscles in those specific ways when you walk and run. Also, if your treadmill workouts get boring you can adopt a HIIT routine.
Both the exercise bike and treadmill are fairly easy to use so great for any beginning their fitness journey.
The treadmill is the ideal and preferred machine if your goal is to lose weight and burn calories, which can be obtained by both walking and running at various speeds and inclines.
If you are looking for a machine that is low impact and more gentle on your joints, then the exercise bike is the better choice as it offers a lighter workout at low speed and resistance, which you can then increase the intensity as you wish to suit your needs.
This will decrease the risk of injuries and allow you to seamlessly make progress and thrive on your fitness journey.
There is no set verdict on which one is better as it is all based on the needs and goals of an individual.
If you’ve got the luxury of a gym membership, then you can try both machines and see which one you prefer, however, you were looking to purchase a cardio machine for your home, then we’d recommend considering your goals and needs before going ahead with your purchase.
Most treadmills provide incline level settings and workout options so that the runner can mimic hilly terrain outside which also forces more power and energy to be exerted through the legs.
Treadmills can accommodate many different body types and sizes and they are incredibly convenient even for overweight or heavy beginners.
So if you think a treadmill might be right for you, come and explore our other articles on the Best Folding Treadmill, or the Best treadmill for Overweight Beginners. You can also see compare all the treadmills I've reviewed, along with my recommendations by price category.