To Run Or To Ride: Treadmill vs Recumbent Bike
A significant part of any healthy workout routine is cardio. It helps boost the cardiovascular system and provides benefits like a decrease in bad cholesterol, increased insulin activity, and strengthening your heart. If you don’t have a favourable jogging situation outside or not enough time to hit the gym during these lockdowns. It is best to opt for stationary exercise equipment for your home.
Almost everyone is confused about which type of stationary equipment to buy; the choice is split between the two leading contenders – best recumbent exercise bikes and treadmills. Both have different designs and working principles; you could say that they are made for entirely different use cases. A treadmill simulates running, whereas a recumbent bike gives you more like a riding experience.
Both machines have their own advantages and use cases. Here we will discuss their highlights and drawbacks. So that you can make an informed decision.
Let’s start with a bird’s eye view of both before diving into the details.
A Brief Overview
Obviously, Treadmills are different from exercise bikes because you are standing with no other body support, it’s exactly like running, and the benefits are similar. Your upper and lower body both come into play as it takes all the muscles on the body to keep a steady pace on a treadmill. If you are a fan of jogging, this will allow you to walk or run when the conditions outside are not ideal.
A treadmill’s speed varies as the cheapest models start with 8 MPH, and the high models can go up to 15 MPH. The belts run on rollers, and more expensive models have inbuilt motors that let you adjust the speed. The belt itself can change its angle to simulate a hill or to add some resistance.
Treadmills are a great choice if your end goal is to lose weight fast. They have a variety of exercise programs for beginners and experts. But as you are physically running, the shocks from each of your steps will greatly impact your joints.
A good treadmill can last you years without any problems, but a cheap one will require lubrication, and the belt will start to stretch; you will have to adjust it from time to time. So if you are planning to buy a treadmill, do not go for the cheapest one as it will lead to a ton of headaches down the line.
Recumbent bikes have become quite popular among the elderly and beginners because of its seating position and digital features. They are known for their comfort; the reclined seat supports your entire body, including your lower spine. The seat itself is large, and most of the models have vented backrest and padded bottom. There is a sliding mechanism to adjust the seat to fit any size.
The pedals are positioned away from the user’s body so that you can stretch your legs and relieve pressure off your knees. The weight is distributed evenly across the body, with no single part of your body handling any stress except your muscles, which do all the work.
The seating posture activates the hamstrings, glutes, calves and the quads simultaneously; therefore, the entire lower body gets a balance workout.
The risk of injury is significantly reduced because no sensitive area is subjected to tremendous stress at any point during training. Making the recumbent bike is an excellent choice for people with arthritis and other physical conditions.
Recumbent bikes, in short, offer maximum comfort with a low chance of injuries during routine exercises. The host of features also make it the right choice for beginners as well as experts.
Features and Differences
Recumbent bikes –
The recumbent bike has a reclined seat with a vented backrest and padded bottom; the pedals are at a reasonable length away from the body, allowing you to fully stretch your legs during workouts. The resistance is produced by a magnetic flywheel, which in most mid-range bikes, is controlled digitally.
The resistance levels can go up to 25 with dozens of preset workout programs. A heart rate sensor is built into the grips, which is used for some of the workout programs. The majority of the recumbent bikes have adjustable seats that can fit any person from 5′ to 6.4′. The design and seating posture is best for comfort and has a low impact on the body’s sensitive areas while exercising.
A treadmill is entirely different from a recumbent in design; there is no seat or pedals to work with. A treadmill uses a running belt to simulate moving ground; the speed is varied from 8 to 15 MPH. The motor and rollers keep the belt running, and the entire system is controlled digitally; there are a range of workout programs that can fulfil the needs of even a fitness guru.
Treadmills require more maintenance than recumbent exercise bikes because they have more extensive and a greater number of moving parts and the stress on the belt is significant. In some cheap treadmills, the belt will stretch, requiring readjustment every few months.
Comfort and Injuries.
Recumbent bikes –
Of all the cardio equipment, recumbent bikes are known as the most comfortable lower body exercise machine. The large vented seat with the padded bottom is excellent for those suffering from back pain and spinal problems. The pedal’s position also relieves pressure off your knees and hip. The overall design of the recumbent bike protects your body from common exercise injuries; therefore, it is a perfect match for elders and people going through rehabilitation.
On the other hand, a treadmill simulates running; you will feel every step on your knees and hip no matter what speed you choose. And we have all seen videos of people getting thrown off treadmills, so carelessness will directly lead to injury. And if you are overweight, you might want to start with other low impact cardio equipment or simply running because it will be hard to keep your balance on the belt. But for the average person, a treadmill is an excellent choice for cardio in your routines.
So if you are looking for comfort and safety, a recumbent bike is the better option.
Impact on the body
Recumbent bikes –
Well, we know that recumbent bikes have the lowest impact on the joints than treadmills. But in the case of affected muscle groups, the treadmill has the upper hand.
The reclined position of recumbent bikes only activates the lower body muscles like the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, with no significant growth in upper body structure. There are dozens of resistance levels available to push yourself higher to get a well-toned body. Recumbent exercise bikes are suitable for a slow and steady growth that most beginners, seniors and even some professionals look for.
Treadmills provide a more even training session with all the muscles in your body, working together to keep up with the belt’s pace and balance.
The cardiovascular system is significantly impacted, improving your blood flow and endurance. Treadmills are also a great choice for high-intensity workouts in which you raise your heart rate and speed very quickly.
It’s basically a fast transition from jogging to sprinting then again jogging. The varied workout programs offer good resistance by raising the belt at specific angles to mimic hills and pace.
A treadmill is the best choice when it comes to overall muscle growth and increasing your endurance in a short amount of time.
Running or walking on a treadmill requires more effort and energy than pedalling on a recumbent bike.
An hour at the treadmill at 5 MPH, similar to jogging, burns more calories than on a recumbent exercise bike in the same amount of time.
Treadmills are perfect for getting rid of extra fat and losing weight efficiently. It also puts a lot of stress on the body, and basically, the body does a lot more work trying to balance itself and match the pace of the belt.
If you overexert yourself and trip, the treadmill will throw you out, and that may result in an injury.
Recumbent bike –
The recumbent bike does get your heart pumping and burn those love handles off you, but it does so in a controlled, steady manner. You can lose weight and get a flat belly with lower risk and little joint pain.
A treadmill burns more calories faster but is heavy on your bones and joints, while recumbent bikes are generally safer and lighter on your body but take more time to show results.
Maintenance and Warranty
Recumbent bikes don’t have many moving parts; the parts that do are very durable. The magnetic flywheel dramatically reduces the wear and tear on the flywheel, the components used here are of simple design, therefore less expensive making the bike cheaper.
Most of the system is mechanical, with little electronic interference. The warranty period given is longer than a treadmill of a similar price. The only maintenance you have to do is tighten a few nuts and clean the bike chain, pretty simple isn’t it?
Treadmills are more complicated; the belt, roller and the motor are all components that, if damaged, you have no choice other than to replace it.
The whole system is digitally controlled, with the console housing most of it. You are continually putting force on the belt, which can lead to an electrical shortage in cheaper models.
If something goes wrong, you will have to hire a professional to fix it. An expensive treadmill is the better option; it will come with an extended warranty period and higher quality parts, avoiding further problems down the line.
Both the recumbent bike and the treadmill are not easy to assemble. But the treadmill is heavier, it takes two people to just bring it inside and it has more delicate parts. You have to adjust the belt tension so assembling it alone is nothing short of a headache.The recumbent bike is more manageable and easier to follow through.
Pros in choosing a Treadmill
- Best choice for cardio.
- More efficient and faster results.
- Great for high-intensity interval training.
- Both the upper and lower body get a good workout.
- The workout programs are simple yet effective.
Cons in choosing a Treadmill
- More expensive than recumbent bikes.
- Requires more maintenance and sometimes replacements.
- The risk of injuries is more significant.
- Knees are put under tremendous stress.
- Larger and heavier takes up more space.
- Cheaper models have too many drawbacks.
Pros of Recumbent Bikes
- Comfortable reclined seat with a great workout posture.
- Less stress on the knee and other joints.
- Little to no maintenance on the parts.
- Offers a steady climb in terms of intensity.
- An excellent choice for the seniors and for those with injuries.
- Low budget models come with better features.
Cons of Recumbent Bikes
- Little variety to the workouts compared to the treadmill.
- Takes a little longer to see results.
- The seating position needs time to get used to.
- The upper body rests on the seat, not doing much work.
Here are some of the other differences regarding the following
Both recumbent bikes and the treadmill are great machines for cardio.
The recumbent bike prioritizes comfort; it is the best lower body exercise machine that you can currently buy on the market.
Your spine, hip, ankles and all the joints have ample support during training; you won’t get injured or feel pain from old injuries.
It is much cheaper than treadmills and offers low impact workout programs. So that you can start from any level no matter your fitness level and work your way up steadily. Recumbent bikes are mostly recommended for the elderly and those just starting their sweaty journey.
Treadmills are the best choice if you are a healthy individual with no joint pain. They offer the most variety with the inclined belt system allowing you to simulate a more challenging environment. A good treadmill will be priced anywhere from 700$ to 1500$; any lower than that, you will have a field day with maintenance every few months.
Now you know the difference between the two, and I believe that you can tell which is more suited for your needs.