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The best form of cardio exercise at home is the one you enjoy doing. Hold on, let me clarify: The best form of cardio exercise is the one you’re willing to do and can tolerate for a reasonable amount of time. 

But if you’re stuck in a debate between air bike vs treadmill, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to compare our favorite machines in each category and give you some general information on the best cardio machines we’ve tested. 

I feel confident to share my take on the comparison between air bike vs treadmill because my home gym consists of both machines. I’m also an NSCA-certified personal trainer and want to help you embrace any form of exercise that helps you reach your fitness goals. So let’s get started. 

Quick Look: Air Bike vs Treadmill

Let’s start with some basic facts about air bikes and treadmills. Both are solid pieces of exercise equipment that can support cardiovascular and aerobic capacity goals. Both forms of exercise may also help you maintain a healthy body weight and increase your calorie burn when used regularly. 

Coop moving the Vulcan Thrasher Air Bike

Air bikes are a bit different from studio bikes (like the one wes tested for our Peloton Bike review), traditional stationary bikes, and recumbent bikes. Air bikes have moving handlebars and use a fan to intake air to create resistance. This means the faster you go, the more drag you create, and the harder it is to cycle. Because air bikes use a fan for resistance, they don’t require power and are popular in CrossFit gyms and home gyms for this reason.

Air bikes are low-impact and don’t put a ton of strain on your ankles, knees, and hips. Side note: If you’re looking specifically for low-impact exercise equipment check out our stationary bike vs elliptical comparison or our guide to treadmill alternatives

While there are manual treadmills that are powered by your own movement, most treadmills for home gyms are powered by a motor that turns a tread belt for walking, jogging, or running. 

NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill

Our top picks for the best treadmills for home gyms that we’ve used, scored, and reviewed typically have more bells and whistles than air bikes. Many treadmills offer high-tech touchscreen displays and interactive programming. Most treadmills also include dynamic workout settings like incline, decline, and max speeds up to 12 mph. 

Having multiple adjustments and settings to choose from makes treadmills more versatile for a wide range of fitness levels and different types of workouts including speed drills, steady state cardio, and interval training. 

RELATED: Treadmill Speed Training

Comparison Chart: Treadmill vs Air Bike

Air bikes and treadmill specs vary depending on model and brand. However, I wanted to show you our top-rated exercise bike and treadmill that we’ve tested and reviewed. 

In our in-depth NordicTrack Commercial 1750 review we discuss why this is our top pick for home treadmills and our hands-on experience with this over the course of two years. 

Our top-rated air bike is the Rogue Echo Bike, which may come as no surprise because Rogue equipment is known for durability and the fact it’s made in the USA. We discuss our testing experience in detail in the Rogue Echo Bike review

Below is a side-by-side comparison of our No.1 picks for anyone seeking the best investment in the air bike vs treadmill debate. 

NordicTrack 1750 Rogue Echo Bike
PriceAbout $2,000About $900
Footprint80” L x 38” W x 65” H55″ L x 29.5″ W x 55.25″ H
Weight340 lb (in box) 127 lbs 
Weight capacity400 lbs330 lbs
Resistance 3.5 CHP motor powered; speed range 0-12 mph Unlimited air resistance 
Display14” smart HD touchscreen LCD Console
Warranty10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor2 years 

Who Should Use an Air Bike?

Based on our experience, air bikes are best suited for: 

  • Home gym owners with limited floor space.
  • People who want a minimal tech, no-frills piece of equipment. 
  • Folks who want cardio equipment that doesn’t require a power outlet.
  • Anyone who needs a low-impact exercise option.
  • Exercisers who prefer high-intensity interval training (HIIT). 
  • People looking for an exercise bike that engages more than one muscle group. 

RELATED: Best Air Bike Workouts 

Air Bike RU Thumbnail

Who Should Use a Treadmill?

Here is who we think will benefit from owning a treadmill: 

  • Folks who have a little more room to sacrifice in their home gym.
  • Gym owners who may want high-tech options and built-in cardio programming.
  • Anyone concerned about maintaining bone density1 with weight-bearing exercise. 
  • Folks who can tolerate high-impact exercise to ankles, knees, and hips.
  • Avid runners who want an indoor treadmill running option.
  • Exercisers who prefer steady-state cardio.
  • Anyone looking to support building muscle 2 or supplement their strength training routine.  

RELATED: Steady-State Cardio vs HIIT

Man sitting next to the best treadmills for home

Air Bike vs Treadmill: Key Similarities 

  • Treadmills and air bikes are both cardio workouts and can increase your heart rate and help you maintain cardiovascular health.
  • Both cardio matches are suitable for a wide range of fitness levels including beginners and advanced athletes.
  • Both machines target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Xebex Air Bike Review

Air Bike vs Treadmill: Important Differences  

  • Air bikes provide a low-impact form of cardio exercise while treadmills are more high-impact on your joints because it’s a weight-bearing exercise. 
  • Air bikes have moving handlebars that can be used to target your upper body and lower body at the same time.  
  • Treadmills often provide more technology and built-in features than air bikes due to the fact they are powered with electricity. 
  • Most (but not all) treadmills provide more settings, adjustments, and customizations than air bikes. This means your treadmill workouts have the potential to be more dynamic and varied than an air bike session. 
  • On average, treadmills take up more space in your home gym than air bikes. 
woman walking on sole fitness tt8 treadmill

Air Bike vs Treadmill: Final Thoughts

If you’re like me, you may just want both the air bike and the treadmill—and that’s OK. To be honest, I use my treadmill the most, but my husband uses the air bike more than our treadmill. It really comes down to your personal preferences. 

Here are a few key things to remember: 

  • Air bikes don’t require a power outlet, but because of that they often lack high-tech displays and built-in programming. 
  • Treadmills are often larger (and more expensive) than air bikes. 
  • Air bikes provide low-impact cardio exercise, while treadmill walking or running may help you maintain and increase bone mineral density. 

Air Bike vs Treadmill: FAQs

Is the treadmill better than the air bike for weight loss?

In our experience, there is no single best exercise machine or program for weight loss. Any style of cardiovascular exercise (including the air bike or treadmill) can be used to meet the CDC3 recommendation for adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week. 

This recommendation is based on cardiovascular health, and exceeding these recommendations may help you with your weight loss goals. Keep in mind that your nutrition plays a major part in weight loss, not just exercise alone. 

Can an air bike help you lose belly fat?

Unfortunately, you can’t spot-treat fat loss with certain types of exercise or movements. Folks who are successful with fat loss participate in regular exercise and are in a calorie deficit

Is an air bike a good workout?

Air bikes provide a unique full-body workout experience with pedals of a traditional stationary bike and moving handlebars to engage the upper body. The other aspect to air bikes that most folks find challenging is the air resistance. The harder you pedal, the more air the fan intakes, which creates more drag. This means the faster you pedal, the harder it gets. 

References 

  1. Abd El-Kader SM, Al-Jiffri OH, Ashmawy EM, Gaowgzeh RA. Treadmill walking exercise modulates bone mineral status and inflammatory cytokines in obese asthmatic patients with long term intake of corticosteroids. Afr Health Sci. 2016;16(3):798-808. doi:10.4314/ahs.v16i3.21
  2. Schneider SM, Lee SM, Feiveson AH, Watenpaugh DE, Macias BR, Hargens AR. Treadmill exercise within lower body negative pressure protects leg lean tissue mass and extensor strength and endurance during bed rest. Physiol Rep. 2016;4(15):e12892. doi:10.14814/phy2.12892
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? 2023.

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