How to Buy an Elliptical vs. a Treadmill

Like if this guide is helpful
How to Buy an Elliptical vs. a Treadmill

Ellipticals and treadmills are two of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment available. Both provide excellent workouts, and a high number of products can be purchased for home use. Ideally, users could have both machines in their homes, though due to their size and price, it is often necessary to choose just one. There are several differences between the two machines, and buyers should consider the benefits and drawbacks of each to find the best item for their personal use.

Treadmills use a natural motion, and can be raised to an incline for variations on standard walking and running workouts. They also improve bone and muscle density. Ellipticals use a less natural motion, but provide a low-impact workout. The handles on an elliptical can also be used to activate a user's upper body muscles, and reverse settings shift the workout emphasis. The two machines are comparable in price ranges, and offer similar rates of fat and calorie burning. Both machines can be folded up for easy storage, as well.

Ellipticals and treadmills are sold by sporting good stores and online retailers. Marketplaces like eBay have listings for both new and used machines, and offer a wide selection of products. Shop around to compare prices, and consider all options to find the best home workout equipment.

Choose Treadmills and Ellipticals

Treadmills have remained a staple of cardio machine workouts for decades. They are designed with a range of speeds to allow users to walk, jog, or sprint. Ellipticals are a newer addition to home cardio equipment, but are one of the most popular machines on the market. They are designed to reproduce the effects of running, but with less impact on the user's knees and back. They also incorporate handles that can be used to work more of the upper body. Learn more about the features of each type of machine, as well as their benefits and drawbacks to choose the best products.


Treadmills and ellipticals can both provide quality workouts, though there are benefits and drawbacks to each. They both have pre-programmed workouts to target the user's heart rate, burn fat and calories, or build endurance, though how these results are achieved varies between the two.


Treadmills use a natural motion, and walking and running on one is an immediately accessible activity. However, the impact caused by this motion can be beneficial and detrimental to the user. While walking and running has been shown to improve bone density and strengthen muscles more than other types of cardio exercise, it also places strain on the joints in users' knees. Furthermore, running may also cause pain in the runner's lower back.

Workouts that force users to shift from a walk to a run and back can provide a dynamic exercise experience, and break up the monotony related to some cardio machine workouts. Many treadmills also have an incline feature. This helps work different muscles in the body, and can significantly increase the user's work rate. A steep incline can also help increase workout variety.


Ellipticals are designed to be more of a whole body workout. Pushing or pulling on the machine's handles engages upper body muscles, and replicates cross country skiing. Ellipticals are also meant to be low impact. This creates a smoother workout, though it also reduces some of the benefits to muscles and bones. The distinction between walking and running is not applicable on ellipticals, and as a result, users essentially perform the same action at different speeds. However, ellipticals have a setting that reverses the user's pedal motion. This places emphasis on different muscles in the user's body, especially the quadriceps, and increases workout variety.

Calorie and Fat Burning

Ellipticals and treadmills offer similar results in terms of burning fat and calories, though a user working on a treadmill at a high rate can burn more than the same person on an elliptical on a high setting. Ultimately, users are likely to obtain the best results with the unit they feel more comfortable on, as it can encourage them to exercise at higher intensity rates.


Both ellipticals and treadmills can be safe for healthy people to use. However, ellipticals are more dangerous in busy homes, especially those with pets or small children. The moving parts of an elliptical can strike anyone or anything that comes near the user, potentially resulting in bodily harm or damage to the machine.


Treadmills and ellipticals can vary greatly in price, ranging from around 100 pounds to over 1000. In terms of comparison, one type of machine is not necessarily better than the other. The specific model chosen affects price much more than the type of unit it is.

Buying Used Treadmills and Ellipticals

Buyers on a budget can consider purchasing pre-owned machines. These can be obtained at significantly discounted prices, and many items are available that are still in excellent condition. When possible, test a used machine in person to be sure it is functioning properly. If buying online, inspect photos of the item and read descriptions carefully.


Modern treadmills and ellipticals can be folded when not in use for easy storage. However, keep in mind that this option can compromise the strength and durability of the unit. Learn more about the folding options of each machine.


Folding treadmills tend to have shorter decks than non-folding ones, and generally do not absorb impact from running as well. If a folding unit is purchased, be sure to obtain one that has a separate pedestal and deck. These units can withstand more impact from running than one-piece units. An easy way to test whether the pedestal is separate or not is to raise the incline of the deck. If the console at the top of the pedestal raises along with the deck, it is a one piece unit.


Many ellipticals can have their handles and console folded down, and the entire unit can then be stood up or propped against a wall for storage. Like treadmills, this feature can compromise the stability of the machine, so look for ellipticals that have a strong frame and arms. When possible, consider a non-folding unit, as it is likely to be more durable than other models.

How to Buy Treadmills and Ellipticals on eBay

A high number of treadmills and ellipticals can be purchased from sellers on eBay. To find these items, initiate a search from the home page. You may begin by entering keywords into the search field, or by clicking on eBay's category links. Both options can be used in subsequent search results pages, and a combination of the two can help you narrow listings to the most desirable items. For example, begin a search for used ellipticals by entering "elliptical" into the search field. On the following page, look for the category option related to item condition, and choose used items. You may introduce additional keywords at any time.

Once you have located a desirable item, click on its name or image to see the full listing. There, you can see information about the price of the machine and its shipping charges, as well as the seller's shipping methods and accepted forms of payment. Read the description of the item and examine available photos to be clear on a machine's condition. If you have any questions about a treadmill or elliptical, contact the seller.

Before finalising your purchase, take a moment to review seller profiles. You can look for a seller's positive feedback rating and number of completed transactions in an item listing, or click on the user's name to see the full profile. Once you have received your order, leave feedback of your own to inform future buyers.


Treadmills and ellipticals are two of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment in gyms and homes. They both provide quality exercise, and are designed with a range of settings and workouts to target a user's fat, calories, endurance, or heart rate. Treadmills are the older technology, and provide a natural workout motion. Many models have an incline feature that can significantly alter the feel of a workout, and the shift from walking to running provides a dynamic workout. The impact of walking and running helps strengthen bones and muscle, but can be tough on joints, especially in the knees.

Ellipticals have handles for a full body workout, and the motion can be reversed to work different muscles. However, the difference between high and low settings does not alter the user's movements in the same way as a treadmill. The low impact design of ellipticals can be easier on joints, but does not improve bone density like walking or running. Both machines provide fat and calorie burning workouts, though high settings on a treadmill can provide the most difficult workouts, and consequently the best results. The two machines are similar in price, and both have models that can be folded down for easy storage. Ultimately, buyers should select a machine they feel comfortable using, and are likely to push themselves with.

Treadmills and ellipticals can be purchased from sporting goods stores and online retailers like those on eBay. Shop around to see the full selection of products, and consider choosing a used machine to save money. Regardless of which machine is chosen, buyers can obtain a quality workout from the comfort of home. 

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides