So I did a little research to see how the elliptical machine actually adds up to running. As a former runner who now finds herself on an elliptical more often, I’ve wanted to know which is better for a long time. I’ve always been impressed with how the calories I burn sky rocket while I’m working out on an elliptical, but often doubted the accuracy.

In doing very little research, I discovered that ellipticals can overestimate calories burned by as much as 25-percent. That’s a problem if you are counting calories and trust the machine as truth.

Also, ellipticals just don’t burn as many calories as running. Why should we expect it to? They are two different exercise modalities. Running always makes me feel like I got a better whole body workout and I often miss it when I’m getting no where fast on an elliptical.

Still, there are benefits of working out on a machine. When I run my knees and hips ache. When I use an elliptical my joints feel healthy and fine. That is a pretty significant difference. Plus, on days when you just don’t feel like working out, it is much easier to coax yourself into an elliptical workout than a run. On the elliptical you can distract yourself with television or reading to help the time go by.

So which is better? They are different and both good. Offering the body variety when working out is important, so it’s probably best to incorporate both into a regular workout routine if you can.