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Exercise bike vs. treadmill: which one offers a better workout?

Treadmill exercise burns more calories per minute, but exercise bikes offer a low-impact cardio workout that could ultimately deliver better results.

30 Jun 2022

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Exercise bikes and treadmills are two of the most popular exercise machines on the market - both at home and in the gym. The aerobic exercise that you get from both provides an effective cardio workout. This builds endurance, improves lung capacity and burns calories.

There are some key differences to know about when comparing treadmills and exercise bikes.

This article outlines everything you need to know about exercise bikes and treadmills so that you can decide which cardio equipment is right for you, whatever your fitness goals and lifestyle.

What are treadmills and stationary exercise bikes?

First, let us define these two pieces of cardio equipment.

Treadmill

A treadmill is a piece of equipment that allows you to walk or run indoors. It provides an effective cardio workout, and offers what is considered high-impact exercise.

Exercise bike

The stationary bike consists of a seat and pedals, and simulates a cycling activity. Unlike treadmills, exercise bikes provide a lower-impact cardio workout. Although they are lower impact, they are still considered to provide a complete cardiovascular workout.

Pros & cons of treadmills

Pros of treadmills

They burn a lot of calories

A study concluded that treadmills are optimal indoor exercise machines for enhancing energy expenditure. Since a treadmill workout is a weight-bearing exercise, you will burn more calories and belly fat per minute on a treadmill than on a regular stationary bike.

They provide a full body workout

Treadmill workouts are great for full-body workouts and weight loss, since all the major muscles of the body, including the lower body, arms and abdominal muscles, are used. Increasing the incline of your treadmill will target the calves, glutes and hamstrings more.

They offer workout variability

Most treadmills allow you to increase and decrease speed and elevation, making it possible for you to vary your workout intensity and progress. This benefit isn’t exclusive to treadmills, though; the treadmill and stationary bike both allow you to adjust your workout.

Cons of treadmills

Despite their many benefits, treadmills also have a few negatives to consider.

Higher risk of injury

Treadmill-running has a higher rate of injury than exercising on a stationary bike, owing to the high-impact nature of the workout, which places more strain on joints. For this reason, it is not an ideal option for those who suffer from knee pain.

There is also the risk of losing your balance and falling off the exercise equipment, which is not an issue when exercising on a stationary bike.

Bulky equipment

Treadmills are generally bulkier and heavier than exercise bikes, making them unsuitable for a smaller living space. While the average treadmill measures 64 x 28 inches and weighs 95 kg, exercise bikes are smaller and lighter. For example, the CAROL Bike is 45.5 inches long and 22 inches wide, and weighs 59 kg.

Treadmill-running is also quite noisy, which could make you unpopular at home!

Pros & cons of stationary bikes

Pros of stationary bikes

Low-impact exercise

In contrast to running on a treadmill, cycling on a home exercise bike is a non-weight bearing and low-impact exercise, which reduces the pressure on your joints and decreases the risk of injury. This makes stationary bikes a good option for people with joint pain or age-related stiffness.

Good lower-body workout

All that pedaling is going to provide an excellent lower-body workout, targeting leg muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.

It doesn't only target lower-body muscles, though; you can also strengthen and build your back and core muscles. Moreover, exercising on a spin bike is a total-body workout.

They offer workout variability

The exercise bike allows you to increase or decrease speed and resistance, allowing for continuous progress in your workouts.

Space-saving

Indoor exercise bikes don’t take up as much floor space as treadmills or many other home exercise machines. This makes them the perfect choice if you’re short on workout space at home.

They can help with rehabilitation

Not only can stationary bikes be used for aerobic exercise, but they can also aid with rehabilitation; research has found that stationary cycling can improve overall gait and postural control in older adults. In 2014, a study found that this was more the case for indoor cycling than for treadmill-running.

Cons of stationary bikes

They burn fewer calories minute-per-minute

Since your body weight is supported by the seat of your exercise bike, and you utilize your upper body less, you will naturally burn less calories using an exercise bike than when doing weight-bearing exercises. That said, the difference is marginal, and a stationary bike will still aid with weight loss.

You must consider your personal preference and decide which of these exercise methods you enjoy more. If you enjoy using an exercise bike, you might exercise longer, ultimately burning more calories.

Similarly, since the exercise bike places less pressure on your joints, you may find you are able to work out for a longer period of time.

They are less effective at building strong bones

Exercise bikes do not offer the benefits associated with weight-bearing exercise. For example, running has been shown to be useful in increasing bone strength and mass in middle age osteopenia.

Both treadmills and stationary bikes offer workout variability, among other pros and cons.
Exercise bikes offer a low-impact solution as well as good lower body workouts.

Exercise bike vs. treadmill for burning calories

Burning calories and weight loss are two of the main reasons why many people do cardio. Both exercise bikes and treadmills provide excellent aerobic exercise, and are therefore highly effective for burning calories. When comparing the calorie burn from exercising on a stationary bike vs running on a treadmill, it is important to consider the intensity and duration of your training.

In general, running on a treadmill burns more calories per minute than riding an exercise bike. Studies suggest that running on a treadmill burns 8.18 to 10.78 calories per minute, while stationary cycling burns 7.98 to 10.48 calories per minute. The exact amount of calories you burn depends on various factors, including your age and fitness level.

Enjoyment is another factor here. You may burn more calories when running on a treadmill than when using an exercise bike, but if you enjoy working out using an exercise bike more, the chances are that your workout sessions will become longer and more frequent, resulting in more calories burned.

The bottom line? Both pieces of equipment provide effective cardio workouts that help you lose weight and burn calories.

CAROL Bike vs. treadmill for burning calories

Developed with leading exercise researchers, the CAROL Bike gives you the most effective, time-efficient workout possible. REHIT (Reduced Exertion High-intensity Interval Training), instant resistance and AI make the CAROL Bike unique.

While you might burn less calories on a stationary bike than on a treadmill, the scientifically proven REHIT workouts of the CAROL Bike are proven to burn twice as many calories per minute than jogging on a treadmill.

Exercise bike vs. treadmill for belly fat

Both machines provide a good cardio workout, but if your goal is to burn body fat and lose weight, then it is more important to consider how you work out.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves brief bursts of intense exercise followed by a recovery period of low-intensity exercise. A 30-minute HIIT workout involving 20 seconds of exercise followed by 40 seconds of rest burns up to 30% more calories than 30 minutes of running or cycling at a steady pace.

You’ll even continue to burn calories and fat after your HIIT training, due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

CAROL Bike vs. treadmill for belly fat

The CAROL Bike's AI-powered workouts are proven to give you the benefits of a 45-minute run in as little as five minutes. Yes, really. Our scientifically proven REHIT workout triggers the afterburn effect, burning twice as many calories per minute than traditional treadmill training, making it a great option for burning fat.

CAROL Bike’s AI algorithm calibrates every moment on the bike to you.
Workouts from just 5 minutes. Short, effective—easy to fit into your life.

Other things to consider

Injury rate: exercise bike vs. treadmill

While good form is always a consideration for injury, injury risks on the treadmill are generally higher than on the stationary bike. This is because treadmill-running is a high-impact activity and involves the risk of falling, whereas stationary bikes offer a lower-impact workout.

Not all exercise equipment is created equal

Compared to moderate-intensity treadmill exercise, CAROL workouts are more time-efficient (just 10% of the exercise time) and studies show that they offer an almost twofold improvement in fitness levels.

Conclusion

Now that you know how these machines compare, spend some time considering what is most important to you and then make an informed decision from there.

If you are simply looking for a machine that will provide some cardio in your fitness routine, both are good options.

Generally, the treadmill burns a lot of calories and provides an intense workout, but the risk of treadmill injuries is higher.

Regular stationary bikes don’t burn as many calories per minute as treadmills, but there is potential to work out more, due to stationary bikes being low-impact exercise equipment. They also have a lower injury risk factor, so a stationary bike may be more suitable if you struggle with joint issues or require lower-impact exercise.

Want the bike that gets you fittest, fastest? The CAROL Bike delivers the most effective cardio workout ever, and is proven to give you the benefits of a 45-minute run in as little as five minutes.

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