One of the most frequently asked question is: “What is more effective for your home gym, a stationary exercise bike or a treadmill?”
The decision is not as simple as that. First, you need to answer four basic questions about your attitude and purpose:
First of all, both, a stationary exercise bike and a treadmill help you perform outdoor activities indoors. Outdoors, you certainly would not get bored easily as indoors as you wouldn’t look at the same wall / window / picture all the time.
Secondly, you need to decide what ‘more effective’ means to you? More effective for weight loss, cardio workout, toning your body or building body strength? Taken just on their own, neither a stationary exercise bike nor a treadmill will do the job well. They need to slot into an integrated solution together with nutrition and strength training.
Thirdly, you know best the threshold of your ‘sustainability’ level. If you don’t sustain your exercise regimen, neither machine will help. If you don’t enjoy running or stationary exercise bikes are boring for you, neither machine will do much apart from gathering dust.
Fourthly, do you like your workout being dictated by the machine? This is a frequently overlooked factor. Outdoors, you are in charge, whatever you do. Indoors, the stationary exercise bike leaves you in control the while treadmill dictates your movements.
Once you have your answers to these four basic questions, you then look at four more detailed questions that will help you make the right decision: cost, injuries, calories, and your neighbours.
After the initial outlay for either, operating a stationary exercise bike is free while a treadmill will always require electricity for your workout.
Injuring yourself by falling off is a danger inherent to treadmills. You can slip, or you can lose your step if your mind wanders off during exercise.
Other possible injuries are damages to your joints, above all your knees, just as with running outdoors.
Finally, if you have young children in the house, then for their safety the room with your treadmill must be locked when you don’t use it.
By contrast, people generally don’t fall off stationary exercise bikes. Here, not only indoors is definitely safer than outdoors, they are also safer than treadmills.
Furthermore, fully adjustable seat and handlebars on upright bikes will give you the correct posture to help prevent straining your joints and your back.
Recumbent bikes go even further. They don’t create any strain for your joints, especially your knees, and the seat will give you correct ergonomic support for back and neck.
On a like-for-like comparison, treadmills burn more calories than stationary exercise bikes.
As a rule of thumb, at the same level of intensity you need to cover 4 times the running distance to achieve the same effect on your exercise bike. Calorie burn rates will, of course, also vary from one person to another depending on the percentage of your body’s lean muscle mass.
Beyond the consideration of cost, injuries and calories, which ultimately only concern you, a social factor also comes into play: your neighbours.
Using a stationary exercise bike is a fairly quiet affair. These bikes are, therefore, suitable wherever you live, even in an apartment building. Treadmills, though, are noisy and can easily become a nuisance for neighbours living in the apartment below.
When you have answered these 8 questions, the 4 basic ones about yourself and the 4 detailed ones about the properties of your desired equipment, you will be able to make a choice that you’ll enjoy for a long time.