Elliptical vs Running: Which One is a Better Workout and Why?

Are you aware of the difference between elliptical vs running?

It’s certainly no surprise that the elliptical and running are two of the most popular cardio activities for indoor workouts.

Both imitate a natural running or walking action. Both can improve your aerobic fitness depending on the intensity of your activity.

An elliptical workout is a low-impact workout that nevertheless burns a lot of calories.

On the other hand, running is a high-impact activity that works on your whole body.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between elliptical and running.

We will also explore everything you need to know about which cardio workout will be the best for you!


Elliptical vs Running Impact

The smooth action of an elliptical machine is gentler on the joints than running.

This is especially crucial if you suffer from joint or back discomfort or if you have arthritis.

Running might also be difficult if you are carrying excess weight.

In these circumstances, you may opt to begin with an elliptical machine to lose weight and burn calories since you will still receive fantastic exercise.

It will also burn a good number of calories without the stress of running, which needs training and time to become used to.

Running too hard on your body (whether going too fast or too far) may quickly result in injury.

It’s easy to overdo it when it comes to running. Using an elliptical offers your body a rest.

You can get in your workout while minimizing the strain on your joints.


Elliptical vs Running Duration

If you look at it from a calorie perspective, a running session will give you more value for money since it will burn more calories in the same amount of time as an elliptical workout.

However, from a cardio viewpoint, you’ll get roughly the same benefit from either activity.

As a result, duration is mostly a matter of personal preference.

An elliptical workout is a great alternative if you want a decent cardio workout that has the same impact as walking.

But running, on the other hand, is better suited to those who prefer a more intense workout.


Running vs Elliptical Calories

Running burns more calories than elliptical, but by a tiny margin.

It needs more energy since you have to drive yourself ahead. That implies more calories will be burned.

However, the difference is just around 100 calories per hour. So if you prefer the elliptical and don’t need those extra 50 calories for a 30-minute workout the calorie-burning advantages of running will be nullified.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and run a mile at a pace of 9 minutes per mile, you will burn 409 calories in 30 minutes.

A half-hour of jogging at a 12-minute per mile will burn 298 calories.

An elliptical is exactly in the middle, burning 335 calories in a half-hour.

So, depending on how quickly you run, an elliptical may or may not provide a more effective calorie-burning workout.

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Elliptical vs Running for Weight Loss

Running can help you burn almost as many calories as doing a workout on an elliptical.

However, depending on your aim, you should determine if you require a full-body workout or only a lower-body activity.

And whether you should utilize the power of running or the elliptical will be determined by this.

Yes, performing running and ellipticals on a regular basis can help you lose weight.

However, you should also undertake strength training at least once a week. It will protect your muscles and enhance the tone of your body structure.


Elliptical vs Running Cardiovascular

Running will give somewhat more cardiovascular advantages, but you should be aware that you may get ankle and knee problems as a result of pounding the pavement on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, one health scientist at the University of Wisconsin La Cross discovered that the cardiac benefits of heart rate and oxygen consumption were quite similar between an elliptical and a treadmill.

Thus this category does not truly belong to either an elliptical workout or running.

An elliptical machine, on the other hand, will provide you with more than simply a fantastic cardio exercise.

They also work your arms, so you’ll get some upper-body exercise.

It’s also great equipment for anyone recovering from an injury or who needs to work out inside for a time.


Elliptical vs Running Cost

Running will be less expensive because you can do it outside for free, whereas an elliptical machine must be purchased.

If you reside in an apartment complex that provides a small gym as a benefit to its inhabitants, you may be allowed to use an elliptical for free.

But it would be the only time it would be as inexpensive as running outside.

If you want to buy an elliptical machine, you have to spend between $1,000 and $2,000 for a decent machine.

That is not a tiny sum of money, so you must be certain that is what you want.

Similarly, the average cost of a gym membership is $60 per month or $720 per year.

Although it is less expensive than an elliptical machine at your house, you must also consider additional expenditures such as gas to travel to the gym and time spent.

A gym membership provides you with other exercise tools that you can use for running, such as the treadmill.

So if you use the elliptical machine half the time and the track half the time, the cost of exercising on an elliptical machine versus running is roughly the same.


Elliptical vs Running Outside

Elliptical vs Running Outside
Outdoor running less likely leads to boredom and it cuts down gyming time. Whereas, the elliptical is ideal for those who suffer from joint discomfort since it is a low-impact exercise.

Variety is the key to avoiding boredom and keeping your workouts interesting.

Yet you may be concerned about your progress if you favor one form of activity over another.

Running is regarded by some as one of the most beneficial activities for burning calories and remaining in shape.

While, on the other hand, many other exercises can have comparable results.

Take a look at some typical benchmarks for the intensity of the exercises to compare the elliptical vs running outside.


Running Outside

Running outside offers its own set of advantages.

You’re less likely to get bored with the shifting landscape of the outdoors than you would with the same repetitive motions on an elliptical.

You’ll also save time by not having to mess with a machine if you want to conduct an interval exercise or vary the tempo of your activity.



Personal preference should also be considered when deciding between the two exercises; however, you may discover additional reasons to favor the elliptical over running outside.

For one thing, working out on an elliptical machine is a low-impact workout that is less unpleasant for individuals who suffer from joint discomfort.

And, because ellipticals allow for both forward and backward motion, you’ll be able to train your muscles in somewhat different ways throughout the workout.

The elliptical machines also allow you to track the time elapsed, the estimated calories burnt, and other workout-related information.

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Running On Treadmill vs Elliptical

Running On Treadmill vs Elliptical
Running On Treadmill vs Elliptical; There is no clear answer to which one is superior. It is determined by your training goals, physical health, and other aspects.

Treadmills are machines that allow you to walk or run on a moving belt.

You can regulate both the pace and the inclination.

You use an elliptical machine by placing your feet on a platform and moving in an ellipse or extended circle.

Although these machines have some similarities, they also have some significant differences.

There is no clear answer to which one is superior. It is determined by your training goals, physical health, and other aspects.

When it comes to working out, both types of machines offer advantages and disadvantages.

Continue reading to find out whether one is a better fit for you.


Treadmill Pros

1. Offers Easy Controls

One of the primary advantages of running on a treadmill is versatility.

Whether you choose to go for a simple walk or an uphill run, you can customize the speed and incline of your workout.

Most treadmills also let you select from a number of training routines. Having greater control over your workout may make reaching your fitness goals quicker.

Treadmills are ideal for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts because you can easily regulate the speed and inclination.

HIIT workouts have been shown in studies to be beneficial for burning calories, decreasing body fat, and increasing cardiovascular fitness in a short amount of time.


2. Strengthen Your Legs

Treadmill running or walking can help to develop your leg muscles, particularly your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

A treadmill workout can also help to strengthen your hip flexors and glutes.

Squats and lunges should be done several times a week in addition to treadmill training.

It helps to strengthen your legs and avoid injury.


Treadmill Cons

1. May Lead To Injuries

When compared to working out on an elliptical trainer, running on a treadmill might place a greater strain on your bones.

In the end, this might result in injuries.

Shin splints, knee problems, and stress fractures are all common running ailments.

Always begin your treadmill workout with a warm-up and conclude with a cool-down to decrease the chance of injury.

After your treadmill exercise, make sure you stretch.

If you discover that running on the treadmill is too stressful for your body.

You must try switching to aerobic activities that are easier on your bones and joints, such as swimming or cycling.

You may also try cutting back on the number of miles you run each week.

Apart from this, you can also alternate between running and walking. Running shoe insoles may also assist with support and injury prevention.


2. Works On Limited Muscle Groups

A treadmill can help you gain strength in your leg muscles, hip flexors, and glutes.

But it does not target as many muscle groups as an elliptical does.

You may train the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and chest, as well as the muscles in your lower body, using an elliptical.

An elliptical, by switching direction, also allows you to isolate certain muscles, which is more difficult with a treadmill.


Elliptical Pros

1. Easy On Joints

The elliptical machine is low-impact exercise equipment.

If you find it difficult to handle the abrupt action of running, an elliptical machine may be a suitable choice for you.

Low-impact exercise is less taxing on your joints than high-impact exercise.

If you have a musculoskeletal issue such as low back discomfort, knee or hip pain, or other health conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, the elliptical is a safer alternative.

Low-impact exercise may appear to be easy, but it still offers a decent cardio workout.

A 2017 study on aerobic exercise discovered a 24-week plan of low-impact workouts.

Those workouts increased the study participants’ body composition, physical fitness, and cardiovascular fitness.


2. Maintains Your Fitness Levels

Even though an elliptical is a low-impact machine, it may nevertheless provide a high-intensity exercise.

This is especially useful if you’re healing from an injury but still want to keep up your fitness level.

According to 2010 research, the elliptical vs running on the treadmill burnt almost the same amount of calories.

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It also consumed the same amount of oxygen and had nearly the same heart rate.

The researchers ended with the result that the elliptical is a suitable alternative to the treadmill for aerobic exercise.


3. Best for Upper and Lower Body Workout

Arm grips are available on certain elliptical machines.

You can move your legs and push the grips back and forth at the same time.

The grips’ resistance helps you train the muscles in your shoulders, chest, and back.

At the same time, the machine may help you strengthen lower-body muscles such as your glutes, hip flexors, and quads.


4. Work On Different Muscle Groups

An elliptical machine allows you to reverse direction and work backward.

This might cause a shift in the muscles you work with.

You’ll work out and strengthen your calves and hamstrings if you walk backward instead of forwards.


Elliptical Cons

1. Takes Time to Learn

It may take some time to get used to if you have never worked out on an elliptical machine before.

At first, the movement may seem uncomfortable and unnatural.

If you’re unsure what to do, seek the advice of a professional personal trainer.


2. Muscle Development is Less

While an elliptical is an excellent choice for low-impact aerobic activity.

But it may not provide the same level of muscle growth as a treadmill.

You can develop muscular strength by using an elliptical. For this, you only need to add weight and strength training to your routine.


Which is Better Running or Elliptical?

I personally don’t like the elliptical that much and try to avoid it.

But I have numerous friends who start every gym workout with 10 minutes on the elliptical. They usually go up to 10 resistance and back down.

The elliptical is more comfortable than running since it has a smooth and steady movement.

You don’t feel like you’re burning a lot of calories.

On the elliptical, it’s simpler to let your thoughts wander. It’s great for getting cardiac exercise without hitting the pavement.

Running, on the other hand, is the preferable cardiovascular workout since you get more value for your dollars.

Plus, I enjoy running outside since it allows me to view nature and feel the breeze in my hair.

Plus, I’ve run with friends before, and we’ve spoken.

But on an elliptical machine at the gym, you’re far less inclined to do so.

I enjoy running since it is different every time I run outside, even if I follow the same route. Although it is more difficult on my joints.

I just make sure to stretch, warm up, and cool down to avoid injury.


Final Thoughts

Elliptical vs running both are great ways for performing cardiovascular exercise.

Which one is the best fit for you is determined by your individual needs.

If you already have a musculoskeletal issue or are prone to injury then you must go for the elliptical.

Running can be a better option if you want to burn a lot of calories.

It also improves leg strength and speed side by side.

Finally, performing elliptical vs running provides a similar cardio exercise with various benefits and drawbacks for each alternative.

You only need to consider your goals and determine which workout would best assist you in reaching your fitness goals.



1. How many miles on an elliptical is equal to running?

An elliptical with a stride length of 20 inches would cover a mile of running in 3,168 strides. If your elliptical tracks utilize RPMs, divide this amount by two. It will give you the number of RPMs required to go a mile. A mile would need 1,584 RPMs in this case.

2. Which elliptical vs running is better for belly fat?

Running burns slightly more calories than the elliptical machine, but it is also more taxing on your joints. Elliptical machines offer a low-impact exercise while still allowing you to utilize your arms. They also appear to be more effective on the core muscles. This machine may help you burn a lot of calories with less effort.

3. How safes are treadmills and ellipticals?

Both elliptical and treadmills are safe to use if you follow the safety rules. If you’re new to the elliptical, you might want to start by using it without the arm grips. This might help you get used to the movement. While running on a treadmill, always use the safety clip is attached to your clothing. If you feel faint, dizzy, or lightheaded, stop using the elliptical or treadmill. Also, stay hydrated during your workout.

4. Which one between elliptical and treadmill is best to buy for home?

The best cardio machine to buy is determined by your training objectives. If you want to train for a marathon, you should invest in a treadmill and make good use of it. However, if you are recovering from an injury or have a weaker knee, an elliptical machine is the ideal option.

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