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It's time to get in shape, burn off some of those extra pounds and feel healthy. If you don’t want to join your local gym or you're self-conscious about working out around other people, purchasing an elliptical machine or treadmill is a great option to help get you in shape on your own terms. The problem is, most exercise equipment takes up valuable space and quality equipment can get pricey. So which would be the best deal for you: a treadmill or an elliptical trainer?

Treadmills

The Good
• Treadmills are perfect for runners or folks who like to walk.
• The best treadmills simulate real running with automatic resistance and inclines.
• Most models fold up, reducing the space needed to store the treadmill.
• You can keep track of your distance, times and calories burned.
• Exercise when you want to, no matter the time or weather. 

The Bad
• Running is hard on your knees, ankles and hips, especially if you don't have proper shock absorption with quality footwear.
• Other than swinging your arms, treadmills don't provide upper-body exercise.
• Treadmills that hold more than 300 pounds are expensive.
• The belt pulls you along, so you are expending less energy than running on pavement.

Elliptical Machines

The Good
• It's low impact so there isn't any jarring, hurtful impact from your legs and feet hitting the pavement.
• Moving arm handles allow you to work your upper body at the same time.
• Elliptical trainers provide excellent cardiovascular workouts.
• You can exercise with a reverse pedal action. This allows you to work different muscle groups that a treadmill can't.

The Bad
• Only a few elliptical machines can fold out of the way, so they take up more room than treadmills.
• Higher quality and weight-support models can cost up to $5,000.
• The machines are heavy and can be a pain to relocate.

Which One Should I Choose?
Now that you know the pros and cons of elliptical trainers and treadmills, take into consideration what your fitness and health goals are. Are you training for a marathon or a local 5k? Perhaps your doctor has diagnosed you with couch potato-itis and prescribed a dose of regular exercise. Do you enjoy running? What condition are your knees, ankles and hips in?

If you are serious about losing weight, both treadmills and elliptical bikes can help you reach your target weight. If your joints are in good shape, and your body can handle the stress of the pounding running delivers, then a treadmill is your best option. If you need a lower-impact machine that won't stress your joints as much, then consider an elliptical machine, where you can still get the benefit of a running movement.

Summary
Finding the right exercise machine to boost your fitness and weight-loss goals doesn't have to be stressful. If you are still in doubt as to which machine to choose, visit a sporting goods store or your local gym and give their machines a try. You may find that you are more comfortable on an elliptical or that a treadmill fits your running style better. Do the exercises that you'll enjoy and that fit your lifestyle and athletic ability and you'll be well on your way to a healthier body.

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