Running and using an elliptical are both effective aerobic workouts that build strength and stamina. While you might think that running requires more endurance, the elliptical can be just as trying if you use it at a higher speed and for a longer amount of time than you jog. Your endurance level in either activity will depend on the frequency, intensity and length of your workouts.
Intensity Level and Variations
To get the most benefits from your workout, exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity level. However, if you are new to exercise, you might not have the endurance to work out at this pace for a sustained amount of time. Whether running or using an elliptical, you might have to start at a lighter intensity level, gradually increasing the speed and duration of your workout overall several weeks as you gain stamina. Similarly, running on hills or going in reverse on an elliptical will require more endurance than running on a flat surface or going forward on an elliptical, and you will need to work up to these as well.
Even if you possess a decent amount of endurance for running, you could find that this stamina does not translate when using the elliptical or vice versa. The exercises engage your muscles in different ways. Running is considered a high-impact activity that stresses your bones, while an elliptical is considered a lower impact activity that will not tax your joints as much. Furthermore, if you are used to using an elliptical indoors, you may find that running outdoors or on an uneven surface alters your endurance level. On the other hand, many elliptical machines allow you to pedal in reverse or use arm handles, which may be taxing after only a few minutes for someone who is accustomed to running.
Choosing an Activity
If you are training for a marathon or other race, running is probably your best option for building endurance. However, if you are new to exercise or just want to improve your overall fitness level, you may find that an elliptical is a better option for you. You might also try cross-training between running and the elliptical, which will provide variation to your routine and help protect your joints from the overload injuries that may occur if running is your only activity. Furthermore, alternating your workouts between these two will help build more overall endurance, as you will be using a wider range of muscles and challenging your body in different ways.
Check with your physician before you start running, using the elliptical or performing any other new exercise, particularly if you have a chronic health condition. Building endurance for both exercises requires time and patience, and forcing your body to do too much too soon can lead to frustration, exhaustion and even injuries. Similarly, talk to a personal trainer about proper form and technique to ensure that you are running or using an elliptical properly.