Fitness Catalog.com Logo

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Exercise Bikes vs. Treadmills

by Michael Walker

You’ve decided you want to exercise at home. There are hundreds of pieces of home cardio equipment available. The most popular are treadmills and exercise bikes. In deciding between the two, you should compare long-term sustainability, the effectiveness of the workouts, and safety.

Overcoming Boredom

The biggest obstacle to a home exercise routine is sticking with it. You don’t have to drive to a gym, so your home fitness equipment is more convenient. The problem is that other distractions are just as convenient at home. The key is to make your routine fun. You want to look forward to your daily workout. You have to be realistic. Playing with the heart rate monitor or watching the calorie counter go up will only be fun the first couple of times you exercise.

Treadmill vs. Boredom

On a treadmill, you walk. Walking isn’t that fun. You can walk at different speeds, but that isn’t really much more fun. If you get a treadmill that offers an incline, that keeps it a bit more interesting. Walking uphill isn’t exactly fun, but it’s different. It presents a challenge.

You can’t really read on a treadmill because you are bouncing up and down. You can’t keep your eyes on the same sentence, and you usually end up with a headache. Basically, the only thing fun to do on a treadmill is watch television or movies. If you are really into TV or movies and are able to put your treadmill in front of a television, you can probably keep your treadmill workout from becoming too boring. Problems consist of commercials, the noise coming from the machine, and again, the bouncing.

Exercise Bikes vs. Boredom

Exercise bikes are unique in that many of them come programmed with various biking routines. You simulate different courses that require you to sprint, pedal uphill, and perform at different levels within one workout without having to keep pressing buttons and changing everything. You can even select random programs so you don’t know what’s coming, which really keeps you on your toes. Some exercise bikes can even be plugged into televisions and video games to let you interactively pedal through visual courses.

On upright exercise bikes, you run into some of the same problems as treadmills as far as reading is concerned. Recumbent bikes, however, allow your hands to be free to hold a book or magazine, video game controller, or phone. Multi-tasking during an exercise bike workout keeps it from becoming boring and allows your workout to more easily fit into a busy schedule.

Defeating boredom to successfully keep up a long-term exercise routine is much easier with an exercise bike than a treadmill.

The Calorie Factor

In a study conducted by Nordic Track, young, healthy people used various exercise machines and did cardio workouts. Although they felt they used the same intensity on all machines, they burned the most calories on treadmills and ski machines.

On average, most people burn about 750 calories per hour on a treadmill. The same people are likely to burn about 550 calories per hour on an exercise bike. So it’s a no-brainer, right? You should get a treadmill because they burn more calories.

Well, not exactly. You can’t get so caught up in which machine burns the most calories. You have to take a lot of other factors into consideration. How likely are you to sustain a treadmill routine as opposed to an exercise bike routine?

Because exercise bikes are usually more fun than treadmills, you are much more likely to stick with it long-term. This means that even though you can burn more calories on a treadmill, you are also more likely to stop using it altogether.

You might also find it difficult to use it long enough per workout session to get the full benefits. Most people find it easier to workout for 20 minutes on an exercise bike than 20 minutes on a treadmill. You have to think about that. If you are likely to only do 10 minutes on a treadmill but can easily do 20 minutes on an exercise bike, you will burn more calories per session on an exercise bike.

So just going strictly by the numbers, treadmills burn more calories. If you easily get bored or have tried and failed to stick with exercise routines in the past, you might want to consider burning less calories per hour in favor of a sustainable long-term exercise bike regimen.

Your Safety

The biggest difference between exercise bikes and treadmills is overall safety to your body.

The first case of safety is the most basic. You can fall off of a treadmill. It’s very difficult, however, to fall off of an exercise bike. In fact, you would probably have to try to fall when riding an exercise bike. While you might be thinking you’d have to be pretty clumsy to fall while walking, it happens more than you’d think. People get involved with watching television or the beat of music. One wrong step and you can seriously injure yourself. It’s also possible to spill water or sweat on the treadmill track, causing a safety hazard you might not notice until after you’ve slipped.

Another safety hazard is injury from the activity itself. A treadmill puts quite a bit of stress on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. Even if you invest in a treadmill with some degree of shock absorption, when you eventually get to a jogging or running point, you can put severe orthopedic stress on your body, even up to three times your body weight. People with existing conditions such as arthritis will find a treadmill painful at times due to this stress. Otherwise healthy individuals can sustain injury and possible long-term damage over time.

Exercise bikes put much less stress on your joints. A properly positioned exercise bike supports your weight and still allows you to receive the benefits of a higher impact cardio workout. Upright bikes can sometimes stress your back in the way you have to bend to reach the handlebars. Recumbent exercise bikes, however, can actually improve existing back pain by forcing proper posture and giving support as you exercise. On any exercise bike properly used, your knees and ankles are not stressed as they are on a treadmill.

The less you stress joints, the less likely you are to sustain an injury during your workout. You are also less likely to be sore afterwards. Most importantly, a non-workout injury doesn’t always have to halt your exercise routine on an exercise bike. If you hurt your back or neck, you will find the support of a recumbent exercise bike will keep you from having to stop your exercise regimen altogether. Let’s face it – if you have to stop, you are less likely to start again.

An Exercise Bike is Better for Your Health than a Treadmill

As you can see, both pieces of home fitness equipment have advantages. While the treadmill continues to be the most popular piece of home gym equipment, most people are more likely to faithfully use an exercise bike. This means you’re more likely to have to dust a treadmill until it gets the garage sale sticker.

About the Author

Michael Walker is a freelance author providing useful information about exercise bikes, recumbent exercise bikes and mini exercise bikes.


Be sure to check out the excellent selection of exercise bikes here at Fitness-Catalog.com...

Maximum Cardio Part I

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Likness

Cardiovascular exercise is an important component of general health. While certain people may require different amounts and types of cardio, everyone should engage in at least a little cardiovascular activity each week. There are many methods for training which all have their advantages. You should learn what works for you and what you truly enjoy so that you will continue to perform cardio and reap benefits of good health.

Depending on your goals and body type, different amounts of cardio may be required. A lean "hard-gainer" trying to add mass may benefit from only one or two cardiovascular sessions per week. On the other hand, someone like myself who is extremely prone to storing fat and sensitive to carbohydrates may require 3 or more sessions in order to maintain peak physique. Since you can only get better at a particular exercise by performing it, those interested in running marathons or participating in endurance events such as a triathlon must increase their frequency of cardio in order to prepare for the event.

MAXIM 1: Your body type and goal for training will dictate the type, frequency, and length of your cardio

When your goal for cardio is general health, you have a few decisions to make about what type of cardio you will perform. Many people enjoy taking long, slow runs. Enjoying cardio is important, so if you find an enjoyable method of cardio, there is no reason why you should discard it. The same decision should influence your choice for timing. Many people claim that you must perform cardio first thing in the morning and/or on an empty stomach to see maximal benefit. I disagree. If you have trouble waking up or putting a full effort into morning cardio, and will get a much more vigorous workout in the evening, then why not do it then? Perform cardio when you feel the best, when you are ready and know you will stick with it and give it 100%.

MAXIM 2: Find cardio that you enjoy, and do it when you feel you have the most energy

There are many styles of cardio. There is some debate about what cardio is best for you. People preach about training in the "zone" of a particular heart rate for maximum fat burning benefit. While it is true that your body will utilize more fat for energy during this period, this is not the entire picture. Moderate cardio means your body will recover quickly - your heart rate will return to normal within a short period. Intense cardio, which elevates your heart rate beyond the "zone", may not burn as much fat during the exercise, but your body will take longer to recover. Your body must process waste and your heart rate will remain elevated for hours after the bout of exercise. You will burn more calories throughout the day, and therefore you will receive a superior benefit.

To better understand this, let’s consider a situation where you burn 200 calories during exercise. You have a choice: you might burn those calories walking at a brisk pace and reading a book, and it will take you 1 hour. Or, you might burn those calories performing short sprints followed by periods of moderate jogging, and you will burn those calories in 20 minutes. While the "hour" cardio kept you in the "zone" for fat burning, guess what? The 20-minute cardio elevated your heart rate and took you into an anaerobic zone where your body accumulated an "oxygen debt" - a need for oxygen and fat burning to help flush waste from your system and recover from the intense exercise. So during a 24-hour window, you will burn MORE than the 200 calories, and therefore be closer to your fat loss goal.

While there is no hard, scientific evidence to support this next maxim, I truly believe in it. I have witnessed this not only in my own transformation, but also with countless others as well.

MAXIM 3: The less time it takes to burn the same amount of calories, the more calories you will expend later that day

This maxim may seem confusing, but it’s very simple. It means that if you are going to burn 200 calories, when you burn that 200 calories in 20 minutes instead of 1 hour, your metabolism will increase throughout the day and you’ll end up burning MORE than 200 hours when that day is done. This is why high intensity interval cardio, like that recommended in David Greenwalt’s book, "The Leanness Lifestyle" or the "20-Minute Aerobic Solution[tm]" which is recommended by Bill Phillips in Body-for-LIFE™ is so effective - it burns the most amount of fat in the shortest period of time.

Just because high intensity cardio may burn more calories doesn’t make it superior to moderate cardio except with respect to calories burned. There is some evidence that you may improve your cardiovascular health more quickly with high intensity cardio, but this is no reason to discard your long runs. If you have a busy schedule and wish you fit 3 short, 20-minute sessions, then intensity is the way to go. If, however, you truly enjoy your long bike ride or jog on the weekends, then go ahead and do it - you will still be improving your health and burning calories, and if it is something that you enjoy, you will stick with it! Remember, too, that if you are training for a marathon, all of the 20-minute high intensity cardio in the world will not prepare you fully to run 20+ miles. You must perform the moderate, long duration cardio to prepare your body for the event.

This leads us to another maxim. Your heart rate can provide you a lot of information about your training. Over time, your resting heart rate should decrease. Mine went from the high 60’s to a current value of 48 due to my cardiovascular conditioning. When you train with weights, you can use a heart rate monitor to see what your target heart rate is (weight training will take it to the anaerobic levels, or about the maximum heart rate you would want to train at) - this will provide much better feedback than a generic formula. By tracking your heart rate, you can monitor your effort. If you train today at 160bpm then have a lousy day and don’t feel like you’re receiving any benefit, use your heart rate as a guide. As long as you are pushing hard enough to hit that 160bmp mark again, you know you are getting at least the same intensity from your training as the time before.

We will cover this next maxim and more in Part II.

------------------------

Jeremy Likness is a world-renowned Health Coach and author of the internationally-selling e-Book, Lose Fat, Not Faith. A Certified Fitness Trainer and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Jeremy lost over 65 pounds of fat himself before launching his company, http://www.NaturalPhysiques.com, with the mission to transform thousands of lives one success story at a time. Jeremy specializes in lifestyle changes with a unique approach to health and wellness that starts on the inside.

Main Menu
Previous Posts
Archives
Syndicate This Site

Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles feed
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in MyYahoo!
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in NewsGator Online
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in MSN.
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles with Bloglines
Subscribe to my feed

Copyright 2006 Fitness-Catalog.com