Is an exercise bike better than a treadmill? The answer isn’t always as clear cut as you might think. A treadmill is one of the most common pieces of fitness equipment in the home. And for good reason: they’re easy to use and require little maintenance. However, for home use, some people may prefer an exercise bike instead. Treadmills have a few advantages over exercise bikes, and this article compares them.
Is an exercise bike better than a treadmill? The answer is yes and no. Treadmills and bikes are both great ways to exercise, and with a few differences, each can cater to specific fitness goals. Whether the goal is to lose a few pounds or to build muscle, a treadmill or bike is a good exercise option.
In this comparison, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each, so you can decide whether an exercise bike is better than a treadmill for your fitness needs.
When it comes to cardio equipment, treadmills and elliptical trainers are the most popular. But what exactly is the difference between an exercise bike and a treadmill, and which should you pick? They both allow you to exercise without putting too much stress and strain on your body, and they also both deliver low-impact workouts. However, there are some key differences that set the two apart. Read below for more.
Is an exercise bike better than a treadmill?
Here is how an exercise bike works.
Exercise bikes have a saddle and pedals that imitate cycling. You will find many kinds of exercise bikes that focus on particular training objectives. Spin bikes, for instance, mimic ordinary road bicycles. This allows you to transition more easily from indoor exercise to actual road cycling.
Meanwhile, reclining exercise bikes offer an even more comfortable, larger saddle and pedal that is positioned further in front. This shifts the weight away from the pedals and toward the seat. On the bright side, this decreases the impact of the workout, making it less taxing on the joints. On the negative side, it makes reaching high intensities more difficult and is less transferrable to outside cycling.
How a treadmill works
A treadmill is a training device that lets you walk or run indoors. To do this, it feeds a short belt over the top of the gadget, providing a moving surface. It has features that allow you to change the speed manually.
Treadmills feature handlebars on both ends of the belt deck. Some models allow you to incline the whole deck for a more rigorous exercise similar to jogging uphill.
Motorized treadmills are the most common today, but nonmotorized treadmills are gaining popularity. Nonmotorized models often have a gently curved running surface and require you to manually move the belt to get the correct pace. But both are great for training your gait patterns while running and walking.
Why a Treadmill?
Running is among the best ways of keeping fit and is possibly the only fitness training that fully translates to everyday life. Established runners and fitness enthusiasts prefer a treadmill like this one for indoor training when it’s wet outside and because it is also easier on the joints than running on concrete.
The pros of using a treadmill
Burn calories while tracking progress
Using a treadmill allows you to burn more than 300 calories per day, particularly for users who can run, sprint, or use interval training. Burning calories is the major component if you’re trying to lose weight, making the treadmill the best option for weight loss. Most treadmills also have a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, and other statistics, allowing you to check your progress.
The treadmill is equipped with shock absorption cushioning, making it more comfortable and easier on your joints. When your feet hit the running surface, there is little stress exerted on your knee, ankle, and other joints in your lower body as there would be if you were running on solid ground.
A treadmill allows you to customize your program to suit your needs. You can adjust the speed and incline, meaning you can get the same level of intensity from an indoor treadmill session as you would from running outside. You can also multitask when on the treadmill, such as listening to music or watching a show on the screen.
Cons of using a treadmill
Buying and maintenance costs
The initial cost of buying, as well as running and maintaining a treadmill, is high. Even if you opt for a professional model, it will still require a lubricant to protect it. Besides, some parts will require replacement every few years, and you will need to hire a professional. All these things will add up to extra costs, but the machine will serve you for a long time.
A treadmill requires enough space if you are to use it comfortably and safely. Some models are wider and longer. However, you may also purchase a compact treadmill, which has a small running area. So, before making the purchase, look out for the specifications to ensure you have enough space.
Why an exercise bike?
Nothing beats saddling down and cycling your heart out. The most interesting thing about it is that, since you’re indoors, you may enjoy the comfort of the AC while also watching your favorite show.
The pros of an exercise bike
Cycling is a cool sport, but there are risks associated with road cycling. Busy roads and cycling in the dark could compromise your experience. But with an exercise bike, you are totally safe since you are cycling indoors.
Exercise bikes like this one, offer a low-impact to no-impact workout. You put little to no pressure on your spine, and if the exercise bike is positioned well, it supports your weight such that no stress is exerted on your knees and ankles.
Effective cardio training
Cycling is best suited for cardiovascular workouts. It puts no strain on the joints, but it allows you to build muscle strength and stamina. It will allow you to train and strengthen your heart and respiratory system without straining it with intense activity.
East and ease of access
Exercise bikes are simple to use, whether you are an advanced user or a beginner. You may even multitask while using an exercise bike. However, you cannot maintain the same level of concentration while reaching or watching on an exercise bike as you would on a treadmill.
The cons of exercise bikes
Longer workout intervals
Because of the reduced impact and reclining qualities, you must exercise for longer periods to burn the same number of calories. That’s not a major concern for most people, but it necessitates scheduling longer amounts of time for workouts.
One disadvantage of owning an exercise bike is figuring out where to place it and how to keep it. Treadmills may usually be folded up and kept in a corner. Luckily, there are folding exercise bikes that might help to alleviate this issue.
How to choose the best exercise bike for you
Exercise bikes can be adjusted according to your height and reach, but certain bikes might still not be suitable for you even after tweaking the settings. That’s because some bikes do not allow for fine-tuning. They will be adjustable in inches rather than centimeters, which means you may not achieve a precise fit.
Before placing an order, test out a bike in person if you can. Pay attention to how the height alterations feel as you ride. Experiment with several incline and speed settings to check whether your comfort improves as you exercise. Please remember that most saddles may be replaced if you wish to get a comfy one.
Take consideration of things you’d like to access while riding your stationary bike. Want that water bottle within reach? Want to connect to Wi-Fi for spinning lessons? An exercise bike with such features would make your workout much easier.
- Video screen: Some exercise bikes also have video screens on which you can keep yourself entertained or take a spinning class. Bikes with no video screens may require manual setting adjustments when taking a class.
- Safety: You should check whether a bike has a locking feature when not in use to prevent children from accidentally turning it on. You’ll also find an emergency stop button for use when you want to stop the ride abruptly.
Your fitness goals should be the driving factor towards selecting an exercise bike.
- Regular usage: If your focus is losing weight or toning up, consider selecting a model with different programs that will keep you motivated. Models with a more comfy saddle, easy to mount, or adjustable heights are the best for regular training.
- Occasional usage: For a person who is getting back into sports or staying in shape, an exercise bike with manual adjustments and simple programs is recommended. Such models are well suited for occasional use and are also easy to use.
- Intensive usage: If you intend to improve your athletic performance, opt for a model with added features. The models are better suited for intensive use as they offer more programs, heart rate monitors, and coaching solutions.
How to choose the best treadmill for you
An important thing that you must take into consideration when sourcing for a treadmill is the power source. It may be true that modern treadmills are motorized, but a few are manual too.
- Manual treadmills: These require you to power the belt. The treadmill starts to move following your foot movement. As a result, they demand more effort from you as the runner than the motorized type. The good thing about manual treadmills is that they are cost-effective and don’t require electricity to run. But they have fewer features, are less durable, and require you to adjust the incline manually.
- Motorized treadmills: The motor in this type is powered by electricity with uninterrupted horsepower or CHP. The CHP checks the amount of power maintained by the motor during the exercise. Unfortunately, motor treadmills tend to be costly. The greater the CHP, the higher the price of the treadmill.
The running surface of the treadmill also called the belt or deck size is a major component. Look out for the following elements of the running space before purchasing:
- Running surface length: There are different treadmill decks ranging from 45 to 65 inches in length. A treadmill with a shorter length is well suited for walkers, while runners should opt for those with long surfaces. But a user with longer gaits can also consider longer decks.
- Running surface width: The treadmill deck width may range from 16 to 22 inches. A treadmill user with a wide-body frame should consider a wider deck. On the other hand, a person with a smaller frame may prefer a narrow deck to be closer to the side handrails.
- Belt thickness: A thicker belt means added comfort and cushioning to your legs and joints. Some belts have a built-in cushion that provides more shock absorption as you run.
Tip: If you have limited space, check out the length and width of the treadmill before purchasing.
Technology and features
Treadmills bring various technologies and features with them. Some of these may help you progress with your fitness goals, but others are simply for luxury. The modern treadmill comes with an app and is wirelessly compatible. The feature enables you to track your performance with the corresponding mobile phone applications.
- Built-ins: If music gets you into your groove, a treadmill that has built-in speakers is something you might want to consider. There are even models featuring television screens, while other treadmills have water bottle holders for convenience.
- Folding: Do you have limited space? A foldable treadmill is best suited for a home gym. Such treadmills have decks that fold up for easier storage after use.
- Preloaded workouts: There are treadmill consoles with preset training that use precise speeds and inclines. Preloaded workouts may also include displays with virtual scenery.
Pro Tip: Features should not be your major consideration when purchasing a treadmill. The budget is also very important.
Is an exercise bike better than a treadmill? Not really. It all depends on your goals, limitations, and what you think you enjoy doing more. Both pieces of equipment are great for cardio, but there are pros and cons for each, and the specifics do not necessarily apply to everyone. The treadmill is perfect for weight loss, but it is costly and occupies a large space.
But for a person looking for a smaller, cheaper, and less aggressive workout solution, an exercise bike would probably be the right choice for them. So the choice all boils down to needs and personal preference.