Elliptical vs Running for Weight Loss: Which is Better?

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Elliptical vs Running for Weight Loss

Losing weight is never an easy process and there is no shortcut to achieving your desired body shape. While others turn to methods like drinking pills and other types of supplements to increase their body’s fiber levels, nothing is quite as fulfilling as when you use natural means of losing weight.

Natural means refer to exercising and eating healthy food. Everyone wants to keep their body fit and light, but how many of them want to do it naturally? If your goal is to decrease your weight, you should seek exercise routines that target calorie burning. 

Elliptical and running are both known exercises that can efficiently burn calories, but both have their advantages and disadvantages, too. Learn more about elliptical vs running for weight loss here.

Differences by Definition


You do not have to go out to be able to run long distances. Running can be enjoyed through treadmills and indoor spaces. You just need to calculate the back and forth distances and add it up to determine whether or not you have reached the actual distance you are targeting. However, a lot of people still choose to run outdoors. 

Why? It is because it gives them more motivation to finish their track when there’s fresher air, wider space, more refreshing view, and of course when they see people jogging or running with them. Running outside also exposes you to nature and social encounters. 

One of the most fun and exciting activities that may lead to a positive shift in lifestyle would be running in groups and joining races. That way, your daily workout routines would have a more defined purpose other than merely burning some calories. 

Running alone might mean you have to execute it alone and running outside would allow you to socialize, meet, and enjoy the presence of other people who have common goals with you.


This equipment allows you to execute a stationary cardio exercise while combining the running and stair climbing movement without feeling a significant impact on your body. This machine has pedals that smoothly glide along the rails and some elliptical also have handles or arm poles that allows upper and lower body workout incorporation. 

The number of calories burned when using an elliptical trainer is somehow equivalent to simultaneous working out and running at intense levels. Based on a burned calorie calculator of Harvard Health, a one hundred fifty-five pound person can burn approximately three hundred thirty-five pounds in half an hour. 

Moreover, the difficulty level of your exercise can be increased by resisting against the pedal or forcefully raising the gliding rail’s height through your foot. This can be voluntarily done by the person using the equipment. 

Other Differences Between Elliptical vs Running for Weight Loss

For Beginners

Considering the person’s level and preference as a factor is important because it will determine his or her willingness to pursue and endure the activity. However, if you are a beginner, an elliptical can be the more convenient option for losing weight. 

Elliptical machines are easier to use because their movements come naturally. With this piece of equipment, you can hit intense calorie burn levels much sooner compared to when you’re running. Running requires some training for your muscles to adjust to the impact or force involved. 

Muscle strains might occur when there is no proper warm-up execution. This is the reason why most runners who seem hasty on achieving weight loss experience, not just muscle pains but also injury on their heels, shins, and knees. 

On an elliptical, your muscles and joints can slowly adjust to their gradually increasing speed and at the same time, it burns more calories at a slower speed. Within an hour of using an elliptical, a 150-pound person can burn about 164 calories. Thus, an elliptical is the more ideal mode of exercise for beginners.

People with Special Needs

There is no harm running can do as long as you are well-trained, well-equipped, and your running route is safe. These are only minor differences and it only depends on a person’s level of experience and preference. 

However, when it comes to people with special needs, there are different sets of factors to be considered. It is given that strenuous exercises can be too demanding and stressful for some people. 

If you are suffering from joint and muscle problems, arthritis, or back pain, then the pounding impact from running can be intolerable for you. It can be more taxing when you are carrying a heavy body weight while running long distances.

It is also extremely uncomfortable to do even when using treadmills because as the speed increases, the pounding also becomes more impactful towards your body. 

Thus, it is more suggestible to utilize an elliptical for people with health conditions. Because of its smooth movement, an elliptical is less stressful on a person’s back, hips, and knees than running on the treadmill. 

Some elliptical trainers also have movable upper poles or handles that look similar to the poles used for skiing. These poles allow you to move both your legs and arms. 

Efficacy and Sustainability

Since most elliptical trainers have a reverse pedal feature, it allows you to train your hamstrings and calves more. So, it would have more muscle coverage compared to running. 

Generally, utilizing an elliptical trainer is a low-impact workout activity. It would not cause knee and back pain if it is utilized correctly and your posture is correct. 

People choose running because it activates the largest human body muscles. With that, it is known to be an effective burner for calories for people who are trained to do it. For example, a 150- pound man, who is going on a 6.8 mph running distance, can burn about 800 calories in an hour. 

Well, if you are determined to change your lifestyle to lose weight, you also need to invest in your running equipment. You might need to spend on an expensive, yet durable pair of shoes, or if you prefer to run indoors, then a treadmill will do. 

Also, just an additional tip, you might consider running uphill or any area with an upward slope. This will train your endurance and will also shape your leg muscles more efficiently than running on flat surfaces. 


What if you are preparing for a five-kilometer road race? Utilizing an elliptical trainer might not be the best equipment for sports event preparations because being a low-impact exercise, it cannot effectively train your muscles for competition or tournaments. Athletes, who are used to vigorous training, would find elliptical trainers boring and less challenging. 

Thus, instead of increasing their stamina, it might do the other way around. Also, it affects an athlete’s motivation towards losing weight because the elliptical trainer can become boring and monotonous over time. 

This will result in a negative impact on your adherence to your workout routine. Always remember that if you feel unmotivated towards your routines, these set of exercises will only be less helpful and less effective on your part. That is why you have to ensure that your interest and excitement to execute your routines every day is always present. 


These modes of exercises, running and elliptical training are similar when it comes to being defined as “natural means” of losing weight. Aside from being both categorized as cardio exercises”, performing these exercises can also increase your motivational drive towards achieving your weight standard compared to taking pills, supplements, and undergoing surgery. 

Also, running and elliptical training both burn your calories effectively. It only depends on how long you can sustain either of the activities and how much you are willing to practice them in the long run. 

It also depends on your physical ability, your stamina, and your budget since buying an elliptical machine can surely cost you more than running outdoors. 

People who are obsessed with doing cardio exercises might have undergone several vigorous workout sessions and still find little to no difference between their previous and current weight.

Why does this happen? It is because they missed the fact that it is important to make further research too before executing your workout routines. Stick to your most comfortable mode of exercise so you can endure and enjoy the routine in the long run. At the end of the day, it’s still up to you on which serves your needs best.

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A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle

Running and using an elliptical machine are both good methods to lose weight, but each one has its differences, advantages, and disadvantages. Regarding which one is best for weight loss, it’s ultimately up to you to decide which one best fits your needs and which one aligns with your weight loss goals.

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Article by:

Energetic Lifestyle Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Energetic Lifestyle Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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