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Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Which One Should You Purchase?

If you need help deciding between a stationary bike or a treadmill for your home gym, check out Abt's guide on the advantages and drawbacks of each style of cardio fitness equipment.
Man working out on treadmill

Getting Started

Treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals—there's a variety of cardio equipment to suit everyone's idea of a workout routine. And each piece of home gym equipment offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
When comparing stationary bikes vs. treadmills for your gym setup and typical exercise routine, which one should you purchase?
There are many things to consider before buying: each product's health advantages, how safe they are to use, and additional things you may never have thought about, Here is a breakdown to help you select the best cardio equipment for your personal needs and fitness goals.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Which Burns More Calories?

To lose bodyweight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. And both types of cardio equipment can help you achieve weight loss, depending on how you take on your exercise routine.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person can expect to burn around 319 calories each 30-minute session on a stationary bike, cycling at an intense rate. In the same study, a brisk walk on a treadmill set to 4.5 mph only reaches 186 burned calories. It's only when you start running on a treadmill at 5.2 mph that you can see a comparable burn rate (335 calories burned) as a stationary bike.
As long as you're jogging or using the incline at a brisk pace, the treadmill does burn more calories. However, at this pace, it becomes a high-impact exercise, which can be bothersome for many.

Stationary Bike vs. Treadmill: Pros and Cons

Woman on stationary bike

Stationary Bikes

These home exercise bikes are quiet and often compact, offering cushioned seats, lumbar support, and even cooling fans. They also come in a variety of styles, like upright bikes and recumbent bikes. Many stationary bikes also offer advanced features, such as heart rate monitors, programmable workouts, or global Google Maps courses so you can pedal around terrain all over the world. All of these bells and whistles are wonderful, but let's take a look at a stationary bike's pros and cons when it comes to your health.


  • Unlike treadmills, you're less likely to fall off a bike, which can lower injury risk.
  • Easy to use for many family members.
  • Helps to build strength in lower body muscles.
  • Offers a non-impact exercise that's easy on knee joints and backs.


  • Can't burn as many calories as a treadmill.
  • Arms and upper torso don't receive the same amount of exercise.
  • Can cause hip and butt pains from oversitting.
Treadmill against brick wall


Like stationary bikes, treadmills are an excellent alternative to outdoor exercise in unpredictable weather. Treadmills also come with a variety of specs and features, such as incline control, customizable workout programs, and fitness monitors, which help you set your own pace so that you can build stamina gradually.


  • Easy to learn cardio equipment for different ages and physical endurance.
  • These machines offer an incline that can burn more calories when running or walking.
  • Offers varying, adjustable speeds and incline levels.


  • Considered a high-impact exercise that can be hard on joints and potentially cause knee and back pain and injuries.
  • Incline functions can break down more frequently.
  • Treadmills are associated with higher fall risk.

Other Considerations

Home Gym Space

One thing you might need to consider for your home gym is whether you have the square footage for a treadmill. Since a treadmill's footprint is much larger, if you have a tight workout space, you might want to go for a stationary bike instead. The exception to this is if you opt for a folding treadmill, which can be stowed away more easily.

Machine Maintenance

When it comes down to maintenance, stationary bikes are a clear winner here. Treadmills are built with a belt, motor, and usually an incline feature, which all mean one more mechanism that can potentially break down. As a whole, stationary bikes rarely break down and need servicing. So it's important to consider the cost of any additional maintenance when it comes to choosing between a stationary bike or a treadmill.

Which Do You Prefer?

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference. While a treadmill can help you burn fat quicker to reach the desired weight goal, a high-impact workout may not be the best thing for someone with a bum knee or a slipped disc. Some may prefer a stationary bike instead, simply for its space-saving size, able to be placed in the corner of a living room or home office.
Hopefully, this breakdown can help you make a more informed decision, but if you want to discover more, check out Abt's cardio machine buying guide for further information.