What Is Better: Treadmill, Rowing Machine or Indoor Cycle?

The rowing machine provides a total body workout by engaging your legs, core, back and arms.
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If you're weighing the benefits of using a treadmill, rowing machine or indoor cycle, it all comes down to your individual fitness needs and preferences. Regardless of what exercise machine you use, any aerobic activity helps you get fitter and stronger. Additionally, cardio exercises can help keep the pounds at bay, increase your stamina, ward off viral illness and boost your mood. Healthy adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, which translates to 30 minutes most days of the week.

Treadmill Basics

    According to the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association, the treadmill is the most popular piece of gym equipment with 44 percent of all gym-goers using the machine. The treadmill works your hamstrings, quadriceps, core, glutes and calves. Be aware, however, that the treadmill is a higher-impact machine than the rowing machine or exercise bike, so if you have a knee or lower back injury, you may want to steer clear.

Rowing Machine Basics

    According to WebMD, if you are looking to build your shoulder and back muscles, the rowing machine is an excellent option. When using this machine, you sit on a moveable seat as if you were in a rowboat. There is a bar attached to weights in front of you that you can adjust to customize the level of resistance. While the machine emphasizes your shoulders and back, proper form also uses your quadriceps, hamstrings and core. If you have any back issues, you may want to avoid the rowing machine.

Indoor Cycle Basics

    The indoor exercise, or stationary, bike provides you with the lowest impact workout compared to the treadmill and rowing machine, according to WebMD. This is because the bike supports the majority of your weight. An incumbent indoor cycle, in which you sit back in a bucket-type seat close to the floor with feet extended forward to the pedals, further reduces any strain on the joints. To set the correct set height for a regular stationary bike, stand next to the bike and adjust the saddle so that it is even with your hipbones. The seat should be tilted forward and the handlebars should be slightly higher than the seat. You should be able to reach the handlebars without any discomfort.

Calorie Comparison

    According to Nashville exercise physiologist Kathy Alexander, the treadmill burns the most calories of any other common gym cardiovascular machine. This translates to about 100 calories per mile for most people when walking briskly. For a 160-pound person, cycling at a leisurely rate of 10 miles an hour or less burns 292 calories per hour. An hour on the rowing machine for that same person would burn approximately 438 calories.

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