The versatile treadmill strengthens your entire lower body.
The treadwalker, or treadmill as it is also called, and the stair climber both effectively engage and stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles, the result of which contributes to increased strength and an improved cardiovascular system. The treadmill tends to get more attention at the gym, but the stair climber, which is the continuously rotating staircase, can certainly hold its own as a sweat producer and heart-rate elevator. Choosing between the two requires examining the functions and benefits of both to determine which will best fit your fitness needs.
One of the main differences between the treadmill and stair climber is in their functionality. The stair climber mimics the vertical movement of climbing stairs, whereas the treadmill is mainly used to walk or run in a forward motion. Both exercise machines offer some variations in workouts; for example, side-stepping and walking lunges can be performed on either machine. In addition, the treadmill allows you to change the grade variation, as well as walk backward.
Energy expenditure and burning calories, which help you to burn fat and slim down, are comparable on both the treadmill and stair stepper. Thirty minutes of intense stair climbing can burn approximately 300 calories. Running on a treadmill for the same amount of time at the pace of 6 mph can also burn 300 calories. Calorie burn can vary per person because age and weight are contributing factors. But for the same amount of effort and exercise duration, the calorie expenditure is similar for both machines.
Walking, running and stair climbing are predominately lower-body exercises -- the treadmill and stair climber will activate your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. However, a greater amount of stress is placed on your lower-body muscles when you are moving vertically, such as in climbing stairs, than when going forward. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body; developing the glutes with stair climbing and building lean muscle mass can give your metabolism a boost and help you to have more stability, speed and power in athletic activities.
Making a Decision
The two types of exercise machines are commonly found in gyms and health clubs, and home versions with varying features are available from some commercial manufacturers. Either machine will provide a productive workout; a study in the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" showed comparable improvements in VO2 max aerobic capacity, which helped reduce participant's race times, from training on the treadmill and the stair stepper. However, the best machine for you will depend on your preferences and goals. If you enjoy walking or running, then the treadmill should be your choice. If you are looking for increased muscle development and power in your legs and glutes, then the stair climber may be right for you.