Treadmills, cross trainers and bikes all offer effective and flexible cardiovascular workouts. In addition to burning calories, regular aerobic exercise with any of these options increases your overall endurance, lowers your blood pressure, improves circulation and even reduces stress, among other benefits. Calorie burn is closely comparable across all three types of exercise, but the figure varies according to the time spent exercising, exercise intensity and your body weight.
In a Syracuse University study, the average woman burned 105 calories while running one mile on a treadmill and 74 while walking. If you're going for time rather than distance, you can burn about 606 calories at a 5-mile per hour pace or a whopping 861 calories at an 8-mph pace, if you're a 160-pound woman pounding the treadmill for an hour. Stair treadmills offer a calorie-reducing workout as well, melting up to 657 calories per hour for a 160-pound person, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Cross trainers, also known as elliptical machines, ditch the tried-and-true running motion of the treadmill in favor of a low-impact exercise that mimics stepping up stairs. According to the calories burned calculator at HealthStatus.com, which uses algorithms generated by the Healthier People project of Emory University, cross trainers offer a calorie burn similar to treadmills. The site reports that a 160-pound person burns 826 calories per hour on the elliptical. Less vigorous exercise on ellipticals with no arm movement yields a calorie burn of about 600 per hour, says Ben Greenfield of Champions Sports Medicine.
When compared to the treadmill and cross trainer, bikes exhibit the greatest range in potential calorie burn. For a 160-pound woman, a moderate-intensity bike ride at a speed of 12 to 14 mph burns 634 calories hourly. Bumping the intensity to 14 to 16 mph boosts the calorie burn to 768. Spinning on a stationary bicycle helps you shed a similar number of calories, ranging from a burn of 509 calories per hour at moderate intensity all the way up to 826 at a vigorous intensity.
While running on a treadmill or biking may cause joint stress for those with knee issues, elliptical machines offer a low-impact, joint-friendly exercise option. Some ellipticals even give you an upper-body workout via ski-pole like handles, which also encourage a little more calorie burn. Conversely, excessively leaning on the rails of a cross trainer or treadmill reduces your calorie burn. Resistance settings on these machines and resistance created by sloped bike paths also affect exercise intensity, which in turn affects how many calories you burn during exercise.
- Runner's World: How Many Calories Are You Really Burning?
- Mayo Clinic: Are Elliptical Machines Better Than Treadmills for Basic Aerobic Workouts?
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in One Hour
- HealthStatus.com: Calories Burned Calculator
- HealthStatus.com: About Us
- Get Fit Guy: Which Exercise Machine Burns the Most Calories
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.