Treadmill Vs. Elliptical Trainer: What's Better For Seniors?

Most people who are serious about fitness and getting into shape will consider buying an elliptical trainer and/or treadmill, depending on their specific needs and goals. While both of these pieces of equipment have their advantages, they also have their disadvantages that should be taken into consideration before purchasing them. The question of which one is better usually depends on your fitness level, the amount of space you have available in your home, and the amount of money you’re willing to spend.

What is a treadmill?

If you’re looking for a lower-impact way to burn calories and lose weight, a treadmill might be your best bet. Unlike an elliptical trainer, which requires more coordination, stepping onto a treadmill and setting your speed is easy for seniors who aren’t very mobile or have balance issues. (You'll still want to start slow and take it easy.) Furthermore, treadmills come with handrails—perfect for stability and safety when you're out of breath at high speeds—and many offer different incline levels that can increase heart rate and provide new challenges as you progress toward fitness goals. Most treadmills also allow you to plug in your phone or tablet so you can watch movies or listen to music while working out.

Check out this highly rated treadmill on Amazon. If you don't go to the gym and want to get something done at home, this one is perfect because it is foldable, contains 12 preset programs and 3 manual incline settings which also offer unmatched variety for your workouts. 

What is an elliptical trainer?

The elliptical is an exercise machine that provides a cardio workout by simulating walking or running with zero impact on your joints. The motion is made possible by two foot pedals that rotate in a back and forth pattern, which works out your legs and arms at the same time, providing an overall body workout. Because of its low-impact nature, it’s also great for senior citizens (or anyone who has joint problems). It also doesn’t require any balance to operate—all you have to do is hold on to handles located next to your feet as you pedal away in one of four directions.

If you do struggle with coordination, be sure to seek some help as getting up and setting up the elliptical trainer can be difficult, especially if you've never done it before. Check this elliptical machine on Amazon which is equipped with bigger pedals, physical handlebar, and the 13.5 stride, as well as 8 resistance levels. Whatever your fitness level is, you can be sure to get a good workout in.

The difference between treadmills and elliptical trainers

Trainer For Seniors working out in a Treadmill

Contrary to popular belief, treadmills and elliptical trainers have distinct advantages. While both machines will help you work out and achieve your fitness goals, treadmills are superior for running or jogging, while ellipticals are ideal for cross-training workouts that include various muscles and movements.

The size of your home gym will determine which type of machine is right for you; neither option should be overlooked if you’re trying to build endurance or shed pounds in a safe manner. When it comes to seniors who want to stay active as they age, both treadmill runners and elliptical cross-trainers can play an important role in their lives. 

Which is better, the treadmill or elliptical trainer

Both exercise machines are viable options for seniors looking to lose weight, tone their muscles and maintain good health as they get older. The treadmill is great for getting the heart rate up and building endurance, while the elliptical is better for people with foot or knee injuries or joint problems like arthritis.

In many cases, it's a matter of personal preference—some people prefer running outside to the treadmill, while others find the elliptical trainer provides more workout variety than using a treadmill exclusively over time.

Choose the machine that works best for your lifestyle and schedule, keeping in mind that consistent use will lead to results every time!

When to choose an elliptical trainer over a treadmill

If you’re older, recovering from an injury or prefer low-impact exercise that doesn’t strain your joints, you may want to try an elliptical trainer. Because they simulate movement while providing resistance and generally don’t require much impact.

Ellipticals can be a great alternative for seniors with joint pain or pre-existing injuries like tendonitis or shin splints. Some people also find them easier on their feet than pounding along on a treadmill belt or through road vibrations if you train outdoors in cold weather.

If your knees are bothering you and staying active is important to maintain your physical and mental health (as well as prevent additional injuries), getting on an elliptical might be worth it—especially if using one of these best knee pads for arthritis.

How can you know if you're using them correctly

Which is better, the treadmill or elliptical trainer

Using a treadmill or elliptical trainer safely requires that you maintain your body in a very specific position as you move and use your muscles. As we age, maintaining good posture becomes more difficult, so it can be helpful to practice doing so before working out on these machines, says Sue Kwong, instructor of physical therapy at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in New York City.

A few things to keep in mind while getting ready: Stand up straight; don't slouch forward or curve your back inward—instead, focus on making sure that both shoulder blades are touching together firmly.

Should you add weight training to your routine?

It’s a good idea to add weight training to your routine as a senior, especially if you want to maintain strength and build muscle mass. Both activities help increase metabolism, improve balance and mobility, and fight osteoporosis by strengthening bones.

Adding weight training increases these benefits by adding lean muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism so that your body burns more calories at rest—even when you're sleeping or sitting still!

You also get a bigger metabolic boost from weight training than with other forms of exercise because it uses more energy (calories) than aerobic activity does. The only issue is that if you’re new to lifting weights, it can be easy to overdo it and hurt yourself or worsen existing injuries. So, make sure to speak to a personal trainer if you're at a gym, or seek help from an online PT.

How often should you exercise if you have arthritis or osteoporosis?

You may be able to improve your arthritis or osteoporosis symptoms by exercising three times a week for an hour at a time, suggests The Arthritis and Osteoporosis Information Center at NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program so you can find out what types of exercise are best for you, depending on your age, weight, health history, and how severe your condition is.


So, what is the verdict? Which is better for seniors – a treadmill or elliptical trainer? The answer may surprise you. While treadmills are often seen as the go-to piece of equipment for cardiovascular fitness, research has shown that elliptical trainers provide a more effective workout for seniors.

In fact, one study found that participants who used an elliptical trainer for 30 minutes three times per week lost more weight and body fat than those who used a treadmill. 

Elliptical trainers also offer other benefits such as improving bone density and reducing stress on joints. If you’re looking for an exercise machine that can help improve your health and fitness, consider investing in an elliptical trainer.

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