Better cardio: exercise bike or treadmill?

Cardio training offers a complete workout that can improve your lung capacity and endurance, build muscle and lose weight. But what fitness machine should you purchase for at home training? An exercise bike or treadmill? Let’s compare.

Treadmill training: “natural” cardio

Running is said to be the most “natural” cardio exercise because it’s a basic movement that anyone can perform outside, without need for equipment. It’s also the most complete and effective way to strengthen the heart and improve lung capacity.

When working out at home, the treadmill is usually considered the best cardio machine. If your goal is to lose weight, no cardio exercise can help you to burn more calories than a treadmill. Models that can incline up to 10% or more will increase the burn, thus quickening your weight loss. The icing on the cake: regular running will also tone your muscles. In particular, you’ll see you’re on your way to tighter abs. So how can you go wrong with a treadmill?

But wait; the treadmill isn’t a perfect machine. There are some disadvantages:

  • It can be discouraging and difficult for beginners and others who haven’t used a treadmill in a long time.
  • Running can be hard on your joints, with the constant pounding with each stride. It’s true that a treadmill reduces the shock, but if you have fragile knees or ankles, or a bad back, seek the advice of your doctor or physical therapist before use.
  • Finally, one last practical concern: treadmills are very bulky, and not always an easy fit in a smaller living area.

Exercise bikes: a lighter way to work your cardio

The exercise bike also has some points in its favor. The most obvious is, of course, the seat. Sitting spares the joints while still providing an effective workout for the calves, thighs and glutes. While less demanding than a treadmill, it still offers a thorough cardiovascular workout. It’s also easy to use, and accessible to all – beginners as well as advanced athletes – helping to strengthen muscles and lose weight. And its ultimate asset: it’s compact and easy to fit in a smaller living space.

Of course, exercise bikes have certain drawbacks, as well:

  • It can be very tempting to hunch your back toward the front of your bike, resting your upper body on the handlebars. The result: you’re only getting a lower body workout. Stay aware of your position on the bike, keeping straight and engaged in the exercise, to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
  • The exercise bike might actually be too popular! It’s available in a multitude of models, but some of the starter-level bikes are too light, unstable and unreliable..

Making the right choice for you

You really can’t go wrong in deciding to buy a fitness device to improve your cardio. As we’ve noted, cardio training will positively impact your health in a variety of ways.

While the treadmill remains “the fitness equipment king,” it won’t do you any good at all if you don’t use it regularly. You need to choose the easiest, most convenient device to use in your home. Think also about the machine you can see yourself enthusiastically using on a regular basis. If you know you won’t use a treadmill as much as you would an exercise bike, than go with the bike. This is why, when choosing, you should make sure to use your heart in the decision-making process, as well as your brain. Above all, remember that we’re talking about a sporting activity, so it should be one that brings you pleasure alongside wellbeing.

Need more inspiration to get started? Visit the NordicTrack website and identify which models deserve a closer look.

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