which is better treadmill or recumbent bike

Which Is Better: Treadmill or Recumbent Bike

Torn between a treadmill and a recumbent bike?

Treadmills are perfect cardio machines for walking or running indoor. If you have no issues with your knees, or you’re a runner looking to train indoors, then a treadmill is right up your alley. For people who want to get fit but have back/knee pains or mobility issues, a recumbent bike will be a better choice for them.

Treadmill Vs Recumbent Bike: How They Differ

Both treadmills and recumbent bikes are great cardio machines that provide lower body workouts, but there are a few things that set them apart. Here’s their differences in a nutshell.

people working out in a gym, some using a recumbent bike and some using a treadmill

A treadmill is a machine that allows you to walk or run on an even surface (flat or inclined). They come in various sizes and speeds, and some even include arm cranks. With a treadmill, you exercise at a steady pace, making it ideal for beginners or those who want to walk, jog, or run in the safe confines of their home or a gym.

A recumbent bike is a reclined stationary bicycle that lets you mimic walking while you’re seated with your back well-supported by an inclined backrest

Why Choose a Treadmill

The benefits you get from outdoor walking/running are the same benefits you’ll enjoy from a treadmill. You get to improve your cardio health, and it’s a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health.

The advantage of working out on a treadmill instead of outdoors is that you can do it in any weather, without worrying about traffic or criminals lurking in dark corners. You can also work up a sweat by just walking on a treadmill while watching TV, listening to music, or reading a book.

Woman using the treadmill with a personal trainer

You can even multitask by walking while conferencing or catching up with your family and friends. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!

Not only that. There are various types/models of treadmills to suit your needs and preferences. Some have built-in heart rate monitors for tracking calories burned and other data, and most models have preprogrammed workouts to guide you. Others offer adjustable inclines and speeds so you can tailor your workouts to your needs.

To keep your workouts safe, you can choose from models with safety features such as anti-slip mats, handrails, and brakes.

The bottom line is that a treadmill is a versatile piece of equipment that you can use to attain your fitness goals.

Can You Use a Treadmill If You Have Knee Problems?

While a treadmill is great for targeting your lower body, it can actually make knee problems worse. Just like walking or running outdoors, where you lift and land one foot after the other, it causes impact to your joints and knees each time your foot meets the surface. Imagine a part of your weight being lifted up in the air and brought down, with your knees and feet bearing the pressure repeatedly.

lower body of a person using an inclined treadmill

That’s why walking is generally better than running because the impact of walking is softer and lighter. It’s also why walking on sand is preferred over walking on concrete roads. For these reasons, manufacturers of high-quality treadmills use several layers of material on the running surface to soften the shock to the joints.

However, even the best treadmills will not be the best exercise machine for people suffering from joint/back pains or who have mobility issues. If you’re one of these people, you should start considering a recumbent bike.

Why Choose a Recumbent Bicycle

Recumbent bikes are reclined bicycles that sit low to the ground. You’ll be sitting on a wider seat and resting your back at an angle. The pedals will be in front of you rather than below you.

This position needs you to keep your balance, forcing your core muscles to work harder than usual. Since your body will be more stretched along its length, your legs will naturally have a greater range of motion.

a girl working out on a recumbent bike

The combined muscle engagement results in a stronger back and core, more toned thighs, and firmer glutes.

So if you want to enjoy all these benefits, lose weight, and enjoy a healthier body, you should go with a recumbent bicycle.

How Is a Recumbent Bike Better for Knee Problems?

Unlike walking on a treadmill or walking/running outdoors, “walking” on a recumbent bike does not hurt your knees. Your feet stay on the pedal all the time you’re working out. You don’t lift your feet off the surface and knock your knees with your weight as you land. In other words, you won’t aggravate an already painful knee.

Young Woman using a recumbent bike in a gym

Final Thoughts— Treadmill or Recumbent Bike?

From the preceding sections, you’ve seen that both machines are great for cardiovascular health and overall fitness.

If you’re otherwise healthy and looking for an alternative to walking/running outdoors, or if you’re training for a marathon and you need an equipment for indoor training, then a treadmill is the logical option.

However, if you have knee or back conditions that prevent you from walking upright, a recumbent bike will be your best choice.