Exercise Bike vs. Elliptical Trainer: Which Is Better on Your Knees?

If you want to get in a good cardio workout, you might want to check out the benefits of the elliptical trainer and the exercise bike. But if you have knee problems, which is the best route to take?

Exercise Bike

There is hardly any learning curve when it comes to using an exercise bike. Using a stationary bike is a great way to exercise, since it gives you the benefit of a cardiovascular workout, while still being easy on your joints. The advantage of a cycle is getting to sit. Standing and walking can stress your knees and even cause damage. There are two basic styles of exercise bikes from which to choose, the upright and the recumbent.

The upright stationary bicycle is more like the kind of bike you got for your birthday when you were a kid. You sit over the pedals, pedaling downward. The handlebars are like a regular bike, too, adding stability. Just like a street bike, upright exercise bikes don’t have a seat back.

The recumbent stationary bike puts the pedals more in front of you and almost at seat height. This positioning reduces the impact on your knees even more, is more comfortable to use, and does a better job of protecting your other body parts, such as the hips, back, elbows and wrists. The recumbent bicycle has a seat with a back. The disadvantage is that you have less range of movement, so if you get uncomfortable, there aren’t many other positions you can use to get relief.

Elliptical Trainer

The elliptical trainer is also a low impact exercise device. It has two pedals that swing around in a kind of flowing, climbing motion. You don’t lift your feet as you would on a treadmill–your feet stay on the pedals–the pedals do all of the moving. You just supply the energy. Using an elliptical trainer feels a little like walking on sand dunes. As you put your weight on your foot, the pedal slides down and away. Many have handles to hold onto, which you can also use to increase your cardiovascular workout. The elliptical is engineered to minimize joint impact by aligning the pedals in such a way as to reduce stress on your back, hips and knees.

 Pros of the Exercise Bike

  • Low impact.
  • Less expensive than the elliptical trainer.
  • Typically requires less space.

Cons of the Exercise Bike

  • Can become uncomfortable during long workout sessions.
  • The upright style can stress the knees.
  • Exercising with a stationary bike can become boring.

Pros of the Elliptical Trainer

  • Easy on the knees and other joints.
  • It’s fun!
  • Makes use of the arms.

Cons of the Elliptical Trainer

  • Can be more expensive than a stationary bike.
  • Requires you to stand, which may put more stress on the knees.
  • Not good for those who are unsteady on their feet.

Overall, both the exercise bike and elliptical trainer are low impact, meaning they aren’t hard on your joints. The exercise bike may have a slight advantage because you sit rather than stand when you use it. The choice is yours. Now all you have to do is find some great exercise music.



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