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Treadmills can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to treadmills with similar benefits?
A treadmill is a piece of fitness equipment that simulates an endless surface. This equipment is typically used to do exercises like running and walking.
Some of the benefits of treadmills include that you can use them to improve your cardiovascular health at home or in the gym, you are not dependent on the weather for your workouts, you can strengthen leg muscles, they offer an even surface, etc.
Whether you don’t enjoy using the treadmill, you want a more knee-friendly alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these treadmill alternatives can help you train similar areas of your health.
Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like while using any exercise equipment, there is always some risk of injury. Make sure you use these equipment options in a safe way and if needed, get guidance from an expert.
1. Elliptical trainer
The elliptical trainer is a relatively popular cardio gym machine. Using this machine may look a bit complicated at first but this exercise is actually very beginner-friendly.
You simply select your desired resistance, put your feet on the pads and hands on the handles. After that, you move forward with your feet and back and forth with your hands at your desired intensity.
Because the elliptical trainer improves your cardiovascular health, burns a lot of calories, and trains similar leg muscles it can be a great alternative to treadmills.
You also simulate walking and running without a treadmill to some extent in the comfort of your own home or in the gym. Without as much noise or as much pressure on your knees.
One potential downside is that you need an elliptical machine to do this exercise. That means either investing in your own elliptical machine or joining a gym. You will also strengthen your bones less on the elliptical machine compared to running on the treadmill.
Another potential downside is that the elliptical trainer often requires a relatively big investment.
2. Jump rope
A jump rope is simply a rope that can be used to jump over at a fast pace. At first, it can be hard to imagine that a small piece of fitness equipment can be a good alternative to a gym machine like a treadmill.
However, jumping rope is a great alternative way to train your cardiovascular health at home, outside, or in the gym.
Besides that, jumping rope can also burn a lot of calories, it improves coordination, you will strengthen your leg muscles to some extent, and you will strengthen your bones. On top of that, a jump rope is many times cheaper than a treadmill.
One potential downside of jumping rope is that you are not really training a movement that you will use in your daily life.
3. Stationary bike
Another very popular exercise example is cycling either outside on an actual bike or at home in or in the gym on a stationary bike. Of these two options, the stationary bike is the alternative that comes closest to using a treadmill.
Some of the benefits where the stationary bike resembles the treadmill include: improving cardiovascular health indoors, training similar leg muscles, burning a lot of calories, and improving balance and coordination.
In some ways, a stationary bike is even more helpful. For example, if you are dealing with balance issues, a stationary bike can be a safer alternative than treadmills. A stationary bike will also be easier on your knees than running on a treadmill.
Similar to the elliptical machine, the stationary bike does require a decent investment. You will likely also get less bone strengthening.
The stairmaster is a gym machine that simulates an endless flight of stairs. That may not sound like a dream scenario but it can definitely be a great alternative to running and walking on the treadmill. If you have a large flight of stairs available you can definitely use that instead.
Walking stairs and using a good stairmaster can offer many similar benefits like improving cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles, improving coordination and balance, etc.
If you choose the actual gym machine you can enjoy your favorite tv show or catch up with friends while improving your health at the same time.
Do keep in mind that the stairmaster can be challenging for your knees. Not to the same extent as running on a treadmill but still something to remember. Besides that, the stairmaster can be a machine with a relatively steep price.
5. Step aerobics
Step aerobics is a type of workout where you do sequences of steps with extra movement on and off a raised platform, usually with music in the background. Many people consider this exercise as a fun way to get in some extra movement.
One of the reasons step aerobics stands out as a great alternative to using the treadmill is that it implements a lot of coordination, especially when doing certain types of movements.
On top of that step aerobics also allows you to burn a lot of calories, train your leg muscles, have fun during your workout, and improve cardiovascular health.
Something that is different for step aerobics is that it is not as rough on your knees as running on the treadmill. If you have weak knees this can be a benefit but also keep in mind that this also means less bone strengthening.
A step aerobics fitness equipment kit is also relatively cheap compared to a treadmill or long-time gym subscription.
6. Vertical climber
Gym machines often try to simulate some real-life activity and the vertical climber is no different. Using this machine is similar to climbing an endless ladder.
That means that it will be similar to using the treadmill in the sense that it strengthens similar leg muscles, improves cardiovascular health, improves balance and coordination, etc.
The vertical climber is also different than walking or running on the treadmill in a few ways. This machine will focus slightly more on strengthening your leg muscles and less on improving cardiovascular health. Your arms will also have to work harder compared to something like running or walking.
Besides that, the vertical climber is also often cheaper than treadmills.
Another very popular way to get in a good cardio workout is swimming. Especially for people who have weak knees, swimming can be a great alternative to treadmills since the water carries a lot of your body weight.
There are a few reasons why swimming is a great alternative to running or walking on the treadmill. Swimming burns a lot of calories, works out your leg muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and improves coordination.
A downside is that you do have to find and go to a swimming pool or other body of water to be able to do this exercise. This can require more time and more money. You also get less bone-strengthening from swimming and you will have to use your upper body muscles.
8. Rowing machine
A rowing machine is a gym machine that simulates the movement of rowing a boat. This machine is a great alternative to using the treadmill if you are interested in engaging more muscles while still training your cardiovascular health.
Similar to many of the other options on this list rowing can help you burn a lot of calories, strengthen your leg muscles, improve cardiovascular health, etc. All in the comfort of your own home or in the gym.
On top of that, you train upper back and core muscles to some extent. Especially if you select a high resistance setting. Using a rowing machine is also a lot more silent and easier on your knees than running on a treadmill.
One potential downside is that the price and required storage room of rowing machines are often bigger than the average treadmill details in these areas.
While martial arts like boxing competitively are generally done between two people, you don’t have to fight someone else to get in a boxing workout. There are classes where you box a punching bag or spar in a more friendly manner instead.
If you get the right equipment you can even do this workout with a cardiovascular focus at home. Besides that, boxing will also improve coordination, help you burn calories, improve bone strength, etc.
Boxing is also very different from running on the treadmill in many ways. There is not as much focus on leg muscles only, your upper body will have to work hard too. Your knees will also experience pressure but in a different way.
There are also many people that enjoy boxing a lot more than running or walking on a treadmill. Boxing, even if you get your own gear, also tends to be cheaper than using a treadmill.
10. Under desk pedal exerciser
A pedal exerciser for under your desk is exactly what it sounds like. Two pedals with resistance that you can “cycle” while sitting in front of your desk or on the couch watching television.
This last alternative is not an alternative piece of fitness equipment in the sense that it can replace a complete treadmill. Instead, it is a way to slowly but surely improve certain aspects of your physical health throughout the day or when doing activities like watching tv.
The downside is that you improve cardiovascular health, strengthen your legs, burn calories, etc. to a lower extent compared to using the treadmill.
The upside is that you can combine this piece of equipment with your daily tasks if you sit down a lot. An under the desk pedal exerciser is often also a lot cheaper compared to a treadmill. It can also definitely be used in an apartment where you have to think about neighbors on all sides.