Elliptical Exercise Machines, Do They Work?
Elliptical exercise machines are becoming more and more popular and sophisticated in their overall design since their introduction in the 90s. It is estimated that millions of Americans use elliptical trainers in their home gyms. The reason for their popularity is the low-impact design and total body workout these machines provide. Elliptical exercise machines are hard to beat when it comes to improving cardiovascular health. They are safe for older people, beginners and even expectant mothers, yet challenging enough for the most serious fitness buff.
Low Impact Design Prevents Injuries
Experts agree that weight-bearing activities such as jogging and aerobics are necessary to maintain healthy bone density. Weight-baring exercises include all activities where you remain standing on your feet. The problem is that many of these exercises are hard on the joints by jarring the bones and muscles. You may aggravate old injuries or even injure yourself all over again. Knees, ankles, hips and the back are all prone to feel the impact of these types of workouts. Therapists often prescribe low-impact exercises for people recovering from an accident, people who suffer from arthritis or pregnant women. This is where elliptical exercise machines fit in.
Elliptical Trainers Reduce Stress on Joints
Elliptical exercise machines not only provide weight bearing exercises (which we know improves bone density), but they do so without any stress on your joints. You stand with your feet on small, movable platforms (the foot pedals) which move up and down in an elliptical orbit as you pedal on the machine. The movement is smooth and flowing and in the same elliptical pattern that the human foot follows when we walk or run. But unlike running outdoors or on a treadmill, there is no impact on your joints. Since your feet never leave the foot pedals, it makes for a much safer workout.
How Do Elliptical Machines Compare to Other Types of Equipment?
Some people compare the workout they get on elliptical exercise machines to pedaling on a stationary bike while standing up. Others have said they are like a cross between stair climbers and cross country skiing. But stair steppers come to a stop before you reverse direction between up and down strokes, whereas elliptical trainers provide a continuous, smooth motion. Users also like features such as the ability to vary the trainer’s incline and resistance settings to further reduce repetitive impact on their joints.
Elliptical exercise machines give you all the advantages of weight bearing exercises without the hard impact on your joints and muscles. Such a quality low-impact workout is not easily duplicated with other types of home exercise equipment.
Upper and Lower Body Workout
The majority of elliptical exercise machines are equipped with upper handle bars that give users a truly total body workout. Sculpting your biceps, triceps and other upper body muscles while increasing your calorie burn and cardiovascular impact is easily accomplished by moving the trainer’s upper handle bars. On some elliptical trainers the upper handle bars move independently from the foot pedals, on other machines they are synchronized with the movement of your feet. Fitness pros say that resting your arms on the frame of the machine or the upper body handles decreases the overall impact of the workout. They stress the importance of letting your legs and torso carry all of your weight so that you get the highest level of total body workout.
Many elliptical exercise machines allow the user to adjust the resistance setting and change the incline. These adjustments increase the intensity level of your workout and also target different sets of muscles. The standing position and motion used to operate the machine provide for excellent hip extension and flexion as well as outstanding knee range of motion. Few home gyms compare to an elliptical machine for a total body workout.
Improve Your Heart
Elliptical exercise machines provide some of the best cardiovascular workouts of any home fitness equipment. The benefits for your heart come from the fact that you are getting a total body workout and using many muscle groups. Since you can adjust incline, speed and other factors, you can maximize cardio impact, making elliptical trainers more effective than weight lifting, leg presses, or other less comprehensive types of exercise. Elliptical machines with built in, programmable computers and heart rate monitors help ensure that you are getting the most out of your cardiovascular workouts. Top quality machines have up to 20 different programs to keep you motivated.
Less Exertion Makes Exercising Fun
Since the elliptical motion is a natural body movement, the majority of exercisers feel that this type of workout is actually fun and easy to sustain. It feels easy to use an elliptical machine and it seems that less effort is required. And although less exertion is required, the calorie burn and benefits to your heart are on a level equal or greater than treadmills, stair steppers and other types of home exercise equipment. Regular exercise is the key to maintaining good cardiovascular health. And since elliptical exercise machines are fun to use, you are more likely to work out regularly.
Great for All Fitness Levels
Just about any commercial gym these days is equipped with a set of elliptical trainers. Home gym owners of any fitness level appreciate the low impact workouts and cardiovascular benefits of elliptical exercise machines. Now anyone looking to get in shape and lose weight, or even train for athletic events, can achieve these goals on a machine that they look forward to use.
Shopping for an Elliptical Trainer
Elliptical technology is forever evolving and consumers have dozens of different brands and hundreds of models to choose from. Prices vary from as little as $180 for basic budget trainers to well over $4000 for top-of-the-line machines. Look for an elliptical exercise machine with a sturdy frame, adequately sized foot pedals, magnetic resistance, upper body handles, a variety of workout programs and adjustable inclines. With these features you are sure to get a low-impact, cardio-friendly, total body workout.