Looking to find your calories burned on an elliptical trainer or treadmill?
Surprisingly, an elliptical and a treadmill both burn the same number of calories!
But be careful, you may not be accurately calculating your treadmill or elliptical calories burned. The real calorie burn depends on your gender and weight. Be sure you’re getting your true calorie burn!
The chart below shows the calories burned on an elliptical or treadmill for both women and men:
Treadmill running based on regular running, using a treadmill with 1 degree incline
Calories based on an age of 35 and a height of 5 feet 9 inches (162 cm)
Based on MET values from the “2011 Compendium of Physical Activities”, adjusted with the estimated RMR Harris Benedict equation.
References and Sources
strong moderate effort
4 mph (13 min/mile)
strong moderate effort
4 mph (13 min/mile)
Elliptical vs. Treadmill for Weight Loss?
If treadmills and elliptical both burn the same number of calories, is one better than the other?
That’s one of the top questions people ask when comparing treadmills and ellipticals — especially if they are trying to lose weight.
Older studies did give the workout edge to treadmills, showing that they burned the most calories. However, more modern studies have shown that treadmills and ellipticals both give you the same exercise benefits.
For example, a University of Mississippi study found that elliptical workouts give you the same cardiovascular benefits as running on a treadmill. While test subjects initially got a more intense workout on ellipticals, researchers concluded that this was likely due to “holding on [too] firmly to the handrails, and possible nervousness with the motion of the elliptical.” They saw this effect wear off and “become non-existent with further… experience on the elliptical cross-trainer.”
Similarly, researchers from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse took a look at the physiological responses of people using various types of fitness equipment and found that ellipticals provided “heart rate and oxygen consumption… similar to those achieved on a treadmill.” They concluded that “training on elliptical machines produces similar physiological improvements when compared to treadmill running… when volume and intensity are equivalent.”
In other words, both ellipticals and treadmills provide the same quality workout!
Ellipticals Provide a Full-Body Workout that Feels Easier
While the fitness results of both machines are the same, the workouts are not.
The elliptical gives you more of a full body workout because you use both your arms and your legs. Although you can carry weights and swing your arms while you run or walk on a treadmill, it’s not quite the same as having a “built-in” upper body workout.
An elliptical machine can also be pedaled in reverse so you can vary both the workout and the muscles that it targets. The treadmill allows you to adjust the incline and simulate hills, but that’s a less drastic shift in the muscles you target.
Finally, while the workout intensity and calorie burn is the same, psychological studies show that people feel that an elliptical workout is easier than a treadmill workout.
That perception that the workout feels easier might be the final motivation you need to get a solid workout. So for many people, an elliptical is a better choice.
Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Find Out More
We get a lot of questions about ellipticals vs. treadmills.
If you want to find out more, check out our article on Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which is Best?, which includes a great comparison video.
You can also find out more on our Elliptical vs. Treadmill Resource Page.
Do you use a treadmill or an elliptical? Have you tried them both? Which do you prefer? Let us know your experience by leaving a comment below.
- “Elliptical Guide.”
- Consumer Reports.
- “Blast Fat with Exercise Machines.”
- Men’s Health.
- “Relative exercise intensity, heart rate, oxygen consumption, and caloric expenditure when exercising on various non-impact cardio trainers.”
- La Crosse, WI: University of Wisconsin.
- La Crosse Exercise and Health Program. University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.
- “Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?.”
- Mayo Clinic.
- Web. 4 June 2011.
- “The cardiopulmonary responses of elliptical crosstraining versus treadmill walking in CAD patients.”
- Journal of Exercise Physiology.
- 5.4 (Nov 2002).
- United States: American Society of Exercise Physiologists.
- Department of Exercise Science and Leisure Management, The University of Mississippi.