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Exercise Bike vs. Elliptical: What’s Better for Your Cardio? (Summer )

Choosing an exercise bike vs an elliptical can be a daunting process, especially with all the options that exist on the market. When making your decision, it’s important to figure out which one will best suit your needs.
Last updatedLast updated: July 20, 2022
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Exercise bikes and ellipticals are two popular ways to get in a cardio workout without having to leave your home. They’re similar machines but can work different parts of the body, and each has its own advantages. There are also a lot of options out there when choosing which to buy that have their own personal pros and cons. Deciding on an exercise bike vs. an elliptical machine is often up to one’s personal preference, though, so here we will discuss the main differences between the two.

Exercise bikes

Exercise Bike vs. Elliptical: What's Better for Your Cardio? (Summer )

Stationary bikes are easy on your joints and are relatively low impact.

They mainly target the lower body, but you can get in an upper body workout by standing on the bike instead of sitting. If you don’t exercise much, the Arthritis Foundation Trusted Source The Benefits of Stationary Biking | Arthritis Foundation Biking gets your legs moving through their range of motion. This encourages the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, says Schwartz. It also builds muscles in your core and legs. “When these muscles are stronger, they better support the joints and relieve some of the pressure,” says Sheena Alva, a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. www.arthritis.org recommends building a routine by starting at five minutes, three times per day. Exercise bikes are a step up from using the treadmill, and the benefits show. But they aren’t too much more intense on your body, especially if you work your way up by starting with small intervals on your bike.

Riding a stationary bike is a moderate-intensity exercise Trusted Source 7 Reasons to Do Moderate-Intensity Exercise More Often | livestrong Research shows that moderate exercise could be the key to living longer. According to the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study performed by Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, runners who moved at a moderate intensity (about 10-minute miles) had a lower mortality risk than those who ran more than 20 miles a week at a much faster pace (7 miles an hour or faster). Another study, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, found that runners who logged in one to two and a half hours per week jogging at a slow or average pace had longer life spans than both their sedentary counterparts and the faster runners. www.livestrong.com that can help improve blood sugar levels and sleep quality and aid in weight loss. When buying an exercise bike, a few factors should be considered. These include its value to you (how often you’ll be able to use it), what features you want it to include (i.e., do you want Bluetooth capabilities, or would you rather stick with the more basic options?), and in some cases, your height. If you’re a short person, you might have experienced the frustration of barely being able to reach the pedals of a stationary bike. In this case, the workout isn’t nearly as effective and can even be dangerous. Check out some of the top-rated exercise bikes specifically for short people here. The general process of buying an exercise bike can be overwhelming. With the vast number of different bikes available, you might start to feel stuck in the process of purchasing one. They all have different features, price points, and dimensions. For help in deciding which one’s best for you, take a look at some of the top-rated exercise bikes of 2022. Many of them are available at common mass retailers, and you can even have one delivered right to your doorstep from Amazon. If price is a defining factor for you, there are still plenty of options that can help you get healthier while sticking to your budget. In fact, you can find some top-functioning exercise bikes varying in capabilities and special features for less than $200.

Advantages

Stationary bikes are a great option for someone looking to start their fitness journey. They’re easy on your joints, and as a moderate impact exercise, using a stationary bike is proven to have many health benefits. It’s also an easy way to burn off a couple of hundred calories and get moving while zoning out to your favorite TV show.

An exercise bike is perfect for someone who has a busy schedule and not enough time to leave their house to go to the gym but also wants to value their physical health. It helps improve your cardiovascular health while taking it easy on your joints.

They can help improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen muscles, particularly in the lower body (quads, glutes, calves). You can change the resistance and speed to match the intensity you’re looking for from a workout, and it can change pretty quickly because exercise bikes don’t need the momentum for speed as a regular bike does.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage to exercise bikes that people comment on is that they can take some getting used to. Usually, the seat is most similar to that of a regular bike, and some find it uncomfortable at first. Keeping a good form and consistently using your exercise bike can minimize this disadvantage, and some people even buy padded bike shorts to help. Exercise bikes also typically only work the lower body. This can be solved by standing on the bike and engaging your core, but for the relaxing, low-impact exercise that many people buy an exercise bike for, it’s likely that you’ll only notice a significant difference in your legs and glutes.

Elliptical bikes

Exercise Bike vs. Elliptical: What's Better for Your Cardio? (Summer )

The feeling of being on an elliptical bike can be more fun, as the steps are elevated, so it kind of feels like walking on the moon. It has no seat, so an elliptical bike can make for a good full-body yet relatively low-impact cardio workout. Like a stationary bike, it also goes easy on your joints because your feet don’t leave the pedals.

Using an elliptical bike can make for a full-body workout if you pump your arms on the handles and strongly engage your core. You will likely feel it in your lower body as well as your upper arms. According to Harvard Medical School Trusted Source Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities - Harvard Health Science has proven that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovas­cular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other conditions.  www.health.harvard.edu , someone who weighs around 155 pounds can burn up to four hundred calories in half an hour on an elliptical bike.

Ellipticals also have the option to adjust the speed and range of motion to help you better gain what you’re looking for in a workout. Because of this feature, they make for a good option for beginners who don’t know their strength or rhythm yet, similar to a stationary exercise bike.

Unlike a stationary bike, elliptical machines can give you the same benefits of cross-training Trusted Source Elliptical Machine Benefits | Woman - The Nest Aches and pains aren’t just the domain of the AARP set. They’re a normal — if unwelcome — part of most women’s lives. And your choice of aerobic fitness may be helping or hindering you. The Mayo Clinic’s physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Edward R. Laskowski says that elliptical machines take stress off the back, knees and hips. woman.thenest.com , as an elliptical bike works many parts of your body at once. Using an elliptical bike is also known to help sculpt the gluteal muscles, a benefit that you won’t usually see from other low-impact exercises, like walking. The process of purchasing an elliptical bike can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Like stationary bikes, ellipticals can be purchased from many mass retailers and at many price points. For a budget-friendly elliptical bike, check out this top-rated one on Amazon for just $200. Price can certainly be an obstacle in beginning a fitness journey, but it doesn’t always have to be. Especially if you’re not ready to go to a public gym or don’t feel like you’d use all the benefits of one—buying your own elliptical can pay for itself very quickly.

Advantages

Using an elliptical bike is more likely to give you a full-body workout, unlike a stationary bike, that’s most likely to only work your lower body. An elliptical bike can get you seeing glutes gains, as well as in your legs and arms. Depending on the intensity of your workout, an elliptical bike can give you a noticeable difference in your entire body. Elliptical machines can burn a huge number of calories. They also have plenty of variety in their functionality and the way you can choose to use one (push on the handles or not, adjust speed, etc.). An elliptical machine can meet you right where you’re at and help you get started in sculpting the body you hope to achieve through exercise.

It’s perfect for beginners because there’s not really a right or wrong way to use an elliptical bike. Just step on, and glide back and forth on the pedals. If you want to work your arms too, hold onto the handles and push them along with your feet. Elliptical bikes also put hardly any stress on your joints, so they can be a great option for someone recovering from an injury or someone who already has joint issues but still wants to get fit and have fun in the process.

Disadvantages

It’s hard to find any disadvantages when it comes to using an elliptical bike. It works the whole body and has great cardio benefits, and is perfect for people from all walks of life. However, it is very easy to lose track of time and zone out when you’re on the elliptical, especially when you get in “the zone.” So, to avoid this, you might want to set a timer on your phone. Exercise is good, but over-exercising can have you feeling sore for days. The same way it’s recommended for the stationary bike, if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, get on the elliptical in short intervals and gradually work your way up to thirty- or forty-five-minute workouts. Three times a day for ten minutes is a good starting place. This will help avoid muscle strain and get your body used to the motions.

Final thoughts

When it comes to an exercise bike vs an elliptical bike, the decision really comes down to you, the person who’s buying it. The main difference between the two is that an elliptical bike easily works multiple areas of the body, and to get the same benefits from a stationary bike, takes a little more effort. Because the handles on an elliptical machine move with the pedals, you’ll work your upper and lower body equally. If your schedule is packed, and you don’t have a ton of time between activities, either machine is a great addition to your home. Especially because you can multitask—binging on your latest show while using one, for instance, for both a stationary bike and an elliptical, there are various options with different features and price points, so you’re sure to find one that is perfectly suitable to you and your needs as you embark on your fitness journey.

References

1.
The Benefits of Stationary Biking | Arthritis Foundation
Biking gets your legs moving through their range of motion. This encourages the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, says Schwartz. It also builds muscles in your core and legs. “When these muscles are stronger, they better support the joints and relieve some of the pressure,” says Sheena Alva, a physical therapist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
2.
7 Reasons to Do Moderate-Intensity Exercise More Often | livestrong
Research shows that moderate exercise could be the key to living longer. According to the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study performed by Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, runners who moved at a moderate intensity (about 10-minute miles) had a lower mortality risk than those who ran more than 20 miles a week at a much faster pace (7 miles an hour or faster). Another study, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, found that runners who logged in one to two and a half hours per week jogging at a slow or average pace had longer life spans than both their sedentary counterparts and the faster runners.
3.
Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities - Harvard Health
Science has proven that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovas­cular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other conditions. 
4.
Elliptical Machine Benefits | Woman - The Nest
Aches and pains aren’t just the domain of the AARP set. They’re a normal — if unwelcome — part of most women’s lives. And your choice of aerobic fitness may be helping or hindering you. The Mayo Clinic’s physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Edward R. Laskowski says that elliptical machines take stress off the back, knees and hips.
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