Comparison of energy expenditure on a treadmill vs. An elliptical device at a self-selected exercise intensity

Gregory A. Brown, Chad M. Cook, Ryan D. Krueger, Kate A. Heelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Treadmills (TM) and elliptical devices (EL) are popular forms of exercise equipment. The differences in the training stimulus presented by TM or EL are unknown. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and heart rate on a TM or EL when persons exercise at the same perceived level of exertion. After measuring peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) in 9 male and 9 female untrained college-aged participants, the subjects performed 2 separate 15-minute submaximal exercise tests on the TM and EL at a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) of 12-13. V̇O2peak was higher (p < 0.05) in the males (48.6 ± 1.5 vs. 45.2 ± 1.6 ml/kg/min) than the females (41.7 ± 1.8 vs. 38.8 ± 2.2 ml/kg/min) for both TM and EL (means ± standard error of the mean; for TM vs. EL respectively), but there were no differences in the measured V̇O2peak between TM or EL. During submaximal exercise there were no differences in RPE between TM and EL. Total oxygen consumption was higher (p < 0.05) in males (30.8 ± 2.2 vs. 34.9 ± 2.2 L) than females (24.1 ± 1.8 vs. 26.9 ± 1.7 L) but did not differ between TM and EL. Energy expenditure was not different between TM (569 ± 110 J) or EL (636 ± 120 kJ). Heart rate was higher (p < 0.05) on the EL (164 ± 16 beats/min) compared to the TM (145 ± 15 beats/min). When subjects exercise at the same RPE on TM or EL, oxygen consumption and energy expenditure are similar in spite of a higher heart rate on the EL. These data indicate that during cross training or noncompetition-specific exercise, an elliptical device is an acceptable alternative to a treadmill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1649
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Energy expenditure
  • Heart rate
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Rating of perceived exertion
  • Submaximal exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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