Exercise bike, stationary bike, recumbent exercise bike

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Exercise Bike vs Treadmill

Exercise Bike vs Treadmill

I recently received some emails asking what is best for home fitness: exercise bike or treadmill. There is no doubt these two are among the most popular home exercise equipment, and there is also no doubt that both of them are significant calory burners. However, in order to do the right decision for you you should take in consideration the budget you have at your disposal, the long term sustainability of the equipment, the quality, the type of workout you are expecting and the effectiveness of it and the safety of the machine you are looking to buy.

Make it more interesting

The biggest obstacle with home exercising is how to keep motivation high in order to stick with the plan. On one hand, home exercising is more convenient as you don’t to have drive to the gym to use the exercise bike or treadmill. However, on the other hand, exercising at home requires much more discipline as you can get easily distracted by different things in your home. The key to stick with your exercising plan and have high motivation is having fun; you have to look forward for your next workout. Being realistic, looking at the on-board computer and checking how many calories have you burnt or your heart rate will be interesting just for the first couple of weeks. But let’s look at each piece of exercise equipment and what makes them interesting and fun:

Treadmill Fun Level

On the treadmill you are able to run and walk, and these are the only two things you can possibly do on that piece of machine. You can change the speed and in the case of inclined treadmill you can change the inclination which isn’t exactly fun but it’s at least different and for someone might represent a challenge, but in general it’s not the workout many are dreaming.

On a treadmill you can’t read as you are bouncing up and down and cannot concentrate on a sentence. On the other hand, you could possibly listen to music, watch television or a movie but again, you have the bouncing and the noise of the treadmill.

Exercise Bike Fun level

On a stationary bike you are much more likely to be able to find more activities to do during your workout without much disturbance. You can for example watch your favorite TV show, movie, read a book, listen to music, play video-games and even watching around you and possibly talking to other persons: all this is possible as you are not jumping up and down on your feet.

In addition, some exercise bikes come with various programmed bike routes and you could be sprinting, going uphill, and have several changes in resistance during a single workout without the need to constantly change and pressing buttons. You can even select random routes so you don’t know what is coming.

Recumbent exercise bikes are much more comfortable and in case of upright exercise bikes you could be encountering some difficulties related to treadmills. In any case, whatever type of stationary bike you decide to choose you are far more likely to stick with your workout routine than in the case of the treadmill

Effectiveness of the Workout

i.e. how many calories are you going to bun out. Well, according to a study conducted by NordicTrack, in an hour of workout with the same intensity on a treadmill most people were consuming 750 calories while on the exercise bike only 550 calories, all things being equal. However, this is just a part of the equation, and you have to take in consideration several other factors, as explained in the initial paragraph.

As exercise bikes are more fun, you are probably going to use them in the long run. This means, even if you are more likely to burn calories on the treadmill you are also more likely to give up using it. In addition, it is also very important to take in consideration the duration of your home workout: if you are more likely to do an hour of workout on the stationary bike and you cannot force yourself to do half an hour on the treadmill, the equation is very simple: you are burning more calories in one session.


The main difference between exercise bike and treadmill lies in its safety, which is in a sense related to comfort as well.

  • I recently had a very good discussion with a personal trainer who said she would rather exercise on a cardio equipment that fits her body needs and that she enjoys than suffer on an equipment that burns more calories but she doesn’t like and hurts her joints. In the case of a treadmill especially knees and junctions are put under pressure while in the case of an exercise bike less stress is put on your joint as it supports your weight but still allows to get a high impact form cardio workout.
  • You can fall from a treadmill while it is almost impossible to fall from an exercise bike. Although people think that you have to be very clumsy in order to fall while walking it happens more than you think especially if you get involved in listening music beats or watching television
  • In case of an exercise bike, when you experience a non-workout injury like neck or back you can still continue to do your workout on a daily basis, especially if you use a recumbent exercise bike. Let’s be sincere – once you stop it is very tough to start exercising again


As explained, each cardio machine has its advantages and disadvantages. Treadmill continue to be the most used piece of cardio equipment at home due to higher impact on burning calories. However, stationary bikes have shown to be more fun, comfortable and safer then treadmills.

My final advice is to choose something that you feel is comfortable to you and that you are pretty sure you can stick with the workout in the long run.

If your decision is an exercise bike, click here to read more reviews but you definitely want to see my review of the best buy recumbent exercise bike.

On the other hand if you decided to go for a treadmill, check on Amazon as you can always find the best deal there.

Bestsellers for these categories on Amazon are the LifeSpan Fitness TR3000i Folding Treadmill and the Exerpeutic 300SR Foldable Recumbent Bike

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One Comment

  1. As far as technical issues go, the treadmill needs alot more maintenance than the bike. You’ll have less problems on the bike than a treadmill. We are a repair company and 90% of our service calls are for treadmills and only a small percentage are for bikes. If you’d like to see how to maintain your treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc. go to our website http://www.protreadservice.com …….

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