Whether you plan on purchasing a piece of exercise equipment or if you just want to get the best workout possible for yourself at the gym, you may wonder about the differences between exercise bikes and treadmills. Both can give you a great cardiovascular workout, but only one may be the right choice for you.
Comparing Exercise Bikes and Treadmills
While the two pieces of equipment may appeal to two different groups of exercisers, those open to different options may want to consider the bottom line to help choose between them.
Depending on the model, the cost of a stationary bike or a treadmill is fairly comparable. Both have basic options starting around $200 and both can get pricey with more interactive models beginning around $1000.
- Treadmill: The cost of a treadmill depends largely on the model and its features. Low-end models without screens or displays can start around $250 to $300, like the Confidence Power Plus treadmill. Higher end models, with screens and heart rate monitors typically start around $1000 like the TR3000e Electric Folding Treadmill.
- Exercise bike: Like treadmills, the cost of a stationary bike can vary tremendously based on its model. Options for bikes include onboard computers, heart rate monitors and televisions, all of which can affect the cost. Lower end bikes typically start under $200, like the Avari Recumbent bike or the Marcy Upright Mag Cycle, while more interactive models with course planning and monitor systems can cost upwards of $1000 like the Kettler ERGO RE7 Indoor Recumbent bike or the Body Solid B3U Upright bike.
Like any exercise the length of time you work out, your bodyweight, pace and the resistance or incline level of the treadmill or bike all play a role in determining how many calories are burned.
- Treadmill: The average 150 pound person walking at 3.5 miles an hour for 30 minutes will typically burn about 100 calories. That number can increase dramatically by increasing both the incline and the speed at which you walk or run.
- Exercise bike: A 150 pound person using a stationary bike can be expected to burn around 100 calories for 30 minutes a light pace up to approximately 400 calories in 30 minutes for a vigorous pace.
On average, a treadmill will burn approximately 200 more calories an hour for a 150 pound person using equivalent levels on each machine. However, because the machine that really burns the most calories is the one that gets used the most often, individual preference plays a huge role. If you find the treadmill painful or unpleasant to use, for example, you will get a better and more intense workout from the bike simply because you will use it more often and more effectively.
Who It's Best For
- Treadmill: Treadmills are ideal for walkers or runners who want access to their sport in all weathers and at all times of year. Treadmills are also ideal for anyone looking for a weight-bearing workout that is easier on the joints than walking on concrete or pavement. Because a variety of workouts can be performed on a treadmill, such as lunges, leg toning and resistance band workouts, treadmills may also be attractive to those who enjoy a variety of workout routines and options.
- Exercise bike: Stationery bikes provide great exercise for anyone that has difficulty with weight-bearing exercises like treadmills or elliptical machines. People with arthritic knees, for example may find that an exercise bike gives them a better workout with less pain than a treadmill will.
Because treadmills offer more weight-bearing, which can help to strengthen bone as well as muscle, they do beat out the stationary bike for overall fitness. Treadmills also offer more workout options, such as incorporating hand weights to a walking workout, which can give a better total body experience.
Get Your Best Workout
If you plan on buying a piece of exercise equipment, see if it's possible to try both types of machines before you buy. You may find that your choice is swayed by comfort and your ability to use the machine over long periods of time. Both machines will give you a great cardio workout. No matter what your choice, you're sure to be on a path to better fitness when you start using either piece of equipment on a regular basis.