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Bowflex TreadClimber vs. Running

Runners can make a great case for their sport: All you really need to run is a good pair of running shoes and the space to use them. With that said, indoor exercise machines like the Bowflex TreadClimber offer a safe means of getting your cardio workout in, even when it's cold, dark or raining outside. If you're on the fence as to whether you should take up running or buy a TreadClimber, consider which option gives you the best return on your investment.

Convenience and Price

There's no way any full-size piece of home exercise equipment can beat running outside in terms of convenience and price; after all, the Bowflex TreadClimber's purchase price -- $999 and up as of March 2014 -- would pay for an awful lot of running shoes. That being said, you can work out on the TreadClimber no matter how rainy or dark it may be outside; and because it offers three different workout modes for you to choose from, it's less monotonous than single-mode workout machines.

In Terms of Impact

When you run, you generate high-impact forces with every step. Although you can limit the pounding by slowing down, that also limits your workout intensity. The Bowflex TreadClimber has a maximum speed of 4 or 4.5 mph, depending on which model you have. This automatically limits your speed for you, keeping you to a very brisk walk or very slow jog that won't provide much impact. The TreadClimber's steep incline, however, helps increase your workout intensity.

It's All Uphill From Here

All TreadClimbers have two treadles -- one mini treadmill for eat foot. When you use the TreadClimber in treadmill mode, the treadles don't lie flat; they lock in place at their highest incline setting. Walking uphill like this is one of the best ways to increase your workout intensity without increasing its impact, and maintaining a brisk walk at a steep incline can boost your calorie burn by more than 50 percent. You can crank your intensity by tackling hills when you run outside, too. But you're limited to the terrain you have easy access to and by the fact that once you get up the hill, you're going to have to come back down at some point -- so it's hard to maintain steady, uphill progress for a long time.

Size Does Matter

If you're tall, you might want to think twice before investing in a TreadClimber. The treadles are very short, which means you won't have much room for a natural stride -- and on one TreadClimber, the TC10, there's a rear bar that can actually snag your shoes if you're not careful. You should also check the ceiling clearance; the treadles elevate you either 14 or 17 inches off the floor, depending on the model, and you don't want to bump your head as you jog or walk. If you run outside, on the other hand, you're free to move naturally -- however long or short your stride may be.

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