Treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine: what’s the best option for cardio at home?

Cardio, which is short for cardiovascular exercise, means any activity that makes your heart beat faster and your breathing increase. It’s the kind of exercise that often makes you breathe hard and can be a bit daunting.

People do cardio for various reasons, including losing weight and improving their health. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, and accidents. Studies also show that cardio is good for your brain and mental well-being.

The World Health Organization recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio every week.

You can do cardio in many ways, like playing a team sport, riding your bike, or going for a run. If you’re ready to invest in exercise equipment for your home, you might consider a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine, which are commonly found in gyms too. Here’s how to figure out which one might be the best choice for you.

The treadmill

When it comes to effective exercise, it’s tough to beat the treadmill. Running on a treadmill works most of your major muscles and makes your heart beat faster and burns more energy compared to other exercises like cycling.

A great bonus is that running on a treadmill also helps make your bones stronger because it makes you support your body weight. This is especially important as you get older because the risk of bone conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis, where your bones become less dense, goes up.

But the treadmill might not suit everyone. If you have common joint issues like osteoarthritis, running on a treadmill can make your pain worse and lead to swelling.

Also, treadmills usually need more maintenance (because many are motorized), and they can take up a lot of space in your home.

Stationary bike

A stationary bike is another handy way to get your cardio exercise. It’s important to set up the bike correctly to be comfortable and reduce the risk of getting hurt. A good rule is to have a slight bend in your knee, like in the picture below, when your leg is at the lowest point of the pedal movement.

Cycling on a stationary bike is great for your heart and metabolism. But unlike walking and running, it doesn’t make your bones stronger because it’s not a weight-bearing exercise. On the bright side, it gives you an excellent cardio workout without putting too much stress on your joints.

Rowing machine

If you want a super effective cardio workout in a short time, you should consider a rowing machine. When you use a rowing machine, you engage all your major muscle groups, including your upper body. This means your heart and lungs have to work even harder compared to running and cycling to supply oxygen to these muscles. As a result, rowing burns energy just like running and even more than cycling.

But before you go out to buy a rowing machine, there are two things to think about. First, rowing can be a bit trickier to get the hang of compared to running or cycling.

The technique can be unfamiliar to most people. A coach or trainer can help you with this, but remember that the main effort in rowing should come from your legs, not your arms and back.

Second, rowing doesn’t have the same bone-strengthening benefits as a treadmill because it’s not a weight-bearing exercise. However, there is some evidence that it can still make your bones denser to some extent. Despite this, like cycling, rowing is a good choice if you want a joint-friendly option, especially if you have joint pain but still want to keep your heart and lungs in good shape.

The best choice depends on your goals, your current health, and, most importantly, what you like doing. The most effective exercise is the one you actually do. So, pick the equipment that you enjoy the most because that will make it more likely for you to keep it up in the long run.


the choice between a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine for your cardio workouts ultimately comes down to your personal goals, current fitness level, and, most importantly, what you find enjoyable.

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The key to successful exercise is consistency, and you’re more likely to stick with it if you genuinely like what you’re doing. So, go for the option that you look forward to using, and it will help you stay committed to your fitness routine over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of cardio exercise?

A1: Cardio, or cardiovascular, exercise is aimed at increasing your heart rate and breathing to help improve your heart and lung health, burn calories, and boost overall fitness.

Q2: What are the benefits of cardio exercise?

A2: Cardio exercise offers several benefits, including weight management, reduced risk of heart disease, improved mental health, and enhanced cognitive function.

Q3: How much cardio exercise should I do per week?

A3: The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise each week.

Q4: What’s the best choice for cardio exercise at home: treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine?

A4: The best choice depends on your personal preferences, fitness goals, and what you enjoy doing the most. The key to success is consistency, so choose the equipment that motivates you to stick with your routine.

Q5: Are there any specific health considerations when choosing cardio equipment?

A5: Yes, consider factors like joint health and any medical conditions you may have. For example, rowing and stationary bikes are lower-impact options suitable for individuals with joint pain or concerns.

Q6: Can I still strengthen my bones with cardio exercise?

A6: Treadmills and running provide weight-bearing benefits that can help maintain bone density. Rowing and cycling are less effective in this regard, but they may still offer some benefits.

Q7: How can I ensure proper technique on cardio equipment to prevent injury?

A7: It’s advisable to learn the correct technique, especially for rowing, which can be a bit more complex. Consider seeking guidance from a coach or trainer.

Q8: How can I make my cardio exercise routine enjoyable and sustainable?

A8: Choose an activity you genuinely like and look forward to. Enjoyment is a crucial factor in maintaining a consistent exercise routine.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have specific health concerns or medical conditions.