Comparing Ellipticals to Walking
Posted by Matthew Pearson on June 23, 2014
If you’ve ever wondered whether it is better to walk or use an elliptical machine, there is now some guidance from academic studies. It seems that, for cardiovascular purposes, they are about the same. Of course, this assumes the same amount of effort. Phys Ther. 2010 Feb;90(2):289-305. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20090033. Epub 2009 Dec 18.
However, if your objective is muscle stimulation, the answer changes. Research suggests that ellipticals work the upper legs more, while walking works the calves more. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Sep;39(9):1651-8.
To complicate the choice further, if you are concerned about the amount of weight bearing that each form of exercise provides, another, more recent, study, found at Br J Sports Med 2014;48:616 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093494.153, concluded that using an elliptical machines provide less of a jarring effect than walking. This could be important for people with joint problems.