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The Pros and Cons of Three Exercise Machines


If you're ready to take the plunge and purchase an exercise machine for your indoor workouts, you may wonder which machine is right for your fitness goals and your lifestyle. There are plenty of options available for a number of different workouts. This basic guide will look at the pros and cons of treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines.

Contrary to popular belief, treadmills are not an ideal place to take a rest.

Contrary to popular belief, treadmills are not an ideal place to take a rest.


Treadmills are probably the most common exercise machine available today. These machines are versatile for a lot of styles of workouts.


  • With a treadmill, you can exercise in a number of different ways, including running, walking, jogging and whatever else you can think of.
  • Many treadmills allow you the option of changing the incline to increase the difficulty of the workout.
  • Treadmills are particularly great for people who enjoying running outside but can't because of the weather or safety concerns.
  • Treadmills are great for people looking to lose weight. You can burn a lot of calories by running on a treadmill.
  • There are many treadmill models available, and some of them are quite affordable. Manual treadmills are often only a few hundred dollars.


  • Treadmills are fairly large and bulky, making them less appealing for people living in small living spaces, such as apartments and condos.
  • Manual models generally do not feature a way to adjust the incline.
  • If you want a motorized unit, you will have to pay significantly more than you would for a manual model.
  • If you have bad knees, a treadmill may not be the best choice for you. Running and walking on treadmills is not a low-impact exercise.
Be a little more demanding when you shop for your stationary bike.

Be a little more demanding when you shop for your stationary bike.

Stationary Bikes

Stationary bikes are a classic exercise machine. Though not quite the same as riding a real bike, exercise bikes have a lot to offer to fitness enthusiasts.


  • The motion of riding a bike is smoother than a treadmill, giving people with bad knees a gentle workout.
  • Exercise bikes are fairly affordable. You won't get the bells and whistles with a basic model, but you'll get enough functionality to get a good workout. Stationary bikes frequently show up at garage sales.
  • Unlike treadmills and elliptical trainers, indoor bikes let you sit down while you exercise. If you buy a recumbent stationary bike, you'll have more options for entertaining yourself while you exercise; since you won't need to hold onto anything, you can read a book or play a game on your smartphone.
  • Stationary bikes typically are smaller than other types of exercise machines, making them good choices for those with limited space, such as those living in apartments.


  • Exercise bikes require more effort on your part to achieve the same calorie burn of a treadmill. You will have to work harder or devote more time to the bike to get similar results. You'll also have to work harder to burn the same calories you would on a regular bike.
  • Since stationary bikes require you to sit, your core won't get as much of a workout as it will from a machine that requires you to stand.
  • Some individuals find an exercise bike's seat uncomfortable. Many bikes require an additional padded seat to feel comfortable for extended periods of time.
The tricycle package is not the most popular option at the elliptical dealership.

The tricycle package is not the most popular option at the elliptical dealership.

Elliptical Machines

Elliptical machines are the new kids on the block, having only entered the market in the 1990s. These machines mimic running but in a very gentle way.

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  • The low-impact motion from an elliptical machine is great for people with joint issues, especially in the knees, hips and back.
  • Many elliptical machines include an option to exercise your arms at the same time with attached handlebars. You can move these bars as you exercise, giving your body a full workout.
  • Most elliptical trainers allow you to push the pedals backwards, giving you a great way to spice up your workout by adding a little variety.
  • Elliptical machines are very efficient at helping you burn calories in short periods of time.


  • Higher quality elliptical machines are quite costly, going as high as several thousand dollars. There are, however, some more affordable models that offer less functionality. The inexpensive options usually don't have handlebars.
  • Due to their bulky size, many advanced elliptical machine models are not good for apartment dwellers or those with limited workout space.
  • The low-impact workout of the elliptical machine can also be a negative. For some people, an elliptical is too easy of a workout. If you have a machine that has no resistance settings, this can be a problem.
  • Elliptical machines generally don't feature any way to adjust to properly fit a person's height. This could lead to improper use and possibly injury.

Parting Thoughts

In the end, the best exercise machine is the one you'll enjoy using! Shop around and choose something you're really happy with so your machine doesn't just become a statue collecting dust or your laundry in your house.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


cactusbythesea (author) from Seattle on July 27, 2012:

@CyclingFitness, this hub was hardly meant to be an exhaustive study on each exercise machine. My intention was to introduce new users to the three machines without intimidating them. Not every exercise hub is written for seasoned experts.

Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on July 27, 2012:

Interesting hub although I feel that each machine type should have had its own hub and therefore been more specific as people are more likely to search about specific machines than in general

Very rudimentary thoughts on each machine. Really needs lots more detail I'm afraid

cactusbythesea (author) from Seattle on July 27, 2012:

Hi Billybuc! Thanks for stopping by and leaving feedback! :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 27, 2012:

Good information although I can honestly say I have never owned any of these machines. Well-written hub!

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