Round 1: Ellipse vs. Treadmill

Hitting up the IBC for some physical fitness is not a bad idea, considering the fee is already included in tuition, but when faced with a row of treadmills and a sea of elliptical machines,

Hitting up the IBC for some physical fitness is not a bad idea, considering the fee is already included in tuition, but when faced with a row of treadmills and a sea of elliptical machines, it may be hard to decide which option is better.

“Determining a fitness routine really depends on the condition of the person working out,” kinesiology professor Dr. Thomas P. Rooney said.

It comes down to personal preference and an individual’s physical history.

“The question is comparable to asking whether or not you should eat red or white sauce with your pasta,” assistant kinesiology professor Joseph R. Libonati said. “You will choose what you like best. The point here is to choose an exercise that you like best – this will help you to comply with a program more effectively.”

The best machine is truly dependent on an individual’s preference, and working out on one machine does not help burn more calories than the other.

The number of calories a person burns on either machine first depends on sex and body type and secondly the intensity of the workout and what programs are used.

“If I’m going to run, I’ll run outside,” said Jessie Simons, a second-year medical student. “I don’t like running in place. With the elliptical you can move your arms so you can get a full-body workout.”

While some students may opt for the body movement of the elliptical over the repetition of the treadmill, there are still plenty that prefer a workout on the treadmill.

“I’ve never used the elliptical,” said Phillip Honenberger, a second-year philosophy graduate student. “I haven’t figured out how to use it, but I run on the track and use the treadmill.”

The IBC has 10 treadmills and 17 elliptical
machines, yet there does not seem to be a more popular trend at the IBC. There are signups for both machines, but operations coordinator Jason Townshend said he limits treadmill usage more, citing less treadmills as a probable reason.

“We really need to control access to the treadmills,” Townsend said. “There is a 30-minute signage, and we really have to enforce the signup.”

Before using any kind of exercise equipment, the first thing to do is learn how to use the machine properly. Use a manual or ask a trainer at the gym to learn the correct movements and programs appropriate for your fitness goals.

“People need to learn about the exercise they’re going to do,” Rooney said. “It’s their responsibility to learn about the machines.”

Unnecessary injuries can result from poor use of machines, which can easily be avoided by simply learning how to use it properly.

“See her feet,” Townsend said, motioning to a woman on an elliptical machine. “She’s raising her heels. You’re supposed to try and control the movement and not raise your feet. It’s this lack of knowledge that can cause injuries.”

While some may be quick to steer away from running on a treadmill because of the supposed stress on the joints lessened on the elliptical machine, it really depends on each person.

“The elliptical is good for many people because it takes the stress off joints,” Rooney said. “If you’re somebody who is comfortable in the gym, then you can do a lot of good on the elliptical.”

Although the elliptical can take some of the stress off the knees, Rooney feels that treadmills are better for beginners and allow a person to develop a workout routine.

“I would advise using both of these exercises,” Libonati said. “In the case of stress placed on the joints, yes, running may issue greater joint stress than the ellipse. However, if you don’t have a pre-existing knee condition, I would like to see the walking/jogging exercise take preference unless the client greatly preferred elliptical training solely.”

Some students have a preference when choosing machines, but others like both and use the elliptical or treadmill only as a part of their workout routine.

“I like the elliptical, but I also like running,” Simons said. “I like to switch it up to get a variety of exercises.”

“For me there’s less stress on my knees and my back, which is why I like the elliptical,” said Darlene Lowe, a sophomore communications major. “I do use the treadmill, but only when all the ellipticals are taken, and I definitely
feel more pain in my knees and back.”

Don’t be quick to think that the ellipse is void of joint stress.

“The incline angle of the Precor ellipticals [found at the IBC] can bother someone’s knee, whereas the flat terrain of the Life Fitness cross trainers [another type of elliptical] may not be as bothersome,” Townsend said.

“I’ve heard that running is hard on the knees,” Honenberger said. “But I’ve never had a problem. I stretch before and after I run, so maybe that has something to do with it.”

“I like the treadmill because it uses a little more muscle,” Libonati said. “And it will give you a greater caloric utilization per unit time compared to the elliptical”
Regardless of the equipment preferred, anyone can get a great cardiovascular workout from either option. Either machine is good for cardiovascular
work,” Townsend said.

“You can check your heart rate on the elliptical and the treadmill. So as long you get your target heart rate up, either will be good.”

Kaitlyn Dreyling can be reached at

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