Ever since they were introduced to the fitness world several years ago, elliptical exercise machines
have become increasing more popular and quite sophisticated. It is estimated that over 6 million people now use elliptical machines for their home exercise equipment.
Elliptical exercise machines have become so popular because they provide a low impact, total body workout that is challenging enough for serious athletes yet safe enough for beginners and even women who are pregnant. And of course when it comes to getting a great cardiovascular workout, elliptical exercise machines can't be beat!
Low Impact Workout
The results of extensive research indicates that in order to maintain healthy bone density, we need to participate in weight-bearing activities such as running, aerobics, racquetball, and other forms of exercise where you're active on your
But many of these activities involve jarring the bones and muscles which often aggravates prior injuries leads to new ones. The joints that can be affected with an impact form of exercise are usually the knees, ankles, hips and back.
Pregnant women, people with arthritis, and those who are recovering from an accident often require a low impact exercise routine, and that is exactly what the elliptical exercise machines provide.
With an elliptical exercise machine, you stand with your feet firmly planted on small, movable
platforms so you are bearing weight, which is good for bone density. But the oval pedaling movement of the machine, which is caused by you stepping up and down on the platforms or pedals, is smooth and flowing.
This is the same sort of natural elliptical pattern that the human foot follows when we walk or run.
But while the movement is similar to these activities, there is none of the jarring that usually takes place when outdoors or on a treadmill.
With an elliptical exercise machine, your feet never leave the footpads. Not only does this make for a safer workout, it reduces the stress on your joints.
Many people compare using elliptical exercise equipment to pedaling a bicycle while standing up. Others say they are similar to a cross between cross country skiing and using stair climbers.
But unlike a stair stepper, which comes to a halt before reversing direction between up and down strokes, an elliptical machine provides continuous flow. By using different inclines and stepping speeds, you vary the amount of flexion at the ankle and knees and further reduce the amount of repetitive impact on your feet, legs, and back.
Elliptical exercise machines provide all of the benefits of weight bearing exercises while avoiding the harmful stress and impact on your muscles and joints. There are few home exercise machines out there that give this same quality low impact workout.
Total Body Workout
Elliptical exercise machines also provide an excellent total body workout. Because you're standing and walking or running in place, you use your leg muscles as well as those in your buttocks, back, and abdomen.
Most elliptical machines have a setting to reverse the direction of motion, allowing you to “go backwards” and work additional muscles that very few other exercise workouts target.
In addition, you can carry small hand weights, swing your arms, or use elliptical machines that come with handles and arms to enhance your upper body workout as well, sculpting your biceps, triceps and other upper body muscles while increasing your calorie burn and cardiovascular impact.
Exercise experts caution 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 you to easily adjust the resistance setting and change the
incline angle. These adjustments increase the challenge of your workout and
allow you to target different muscle groups.
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. For an all over body workout, few home gyms compare to an elliptical
Research has also demonstrated that elliptical exercise machines provide among the best cardiovascular workouts of any home fitness equipment. The cardio benefits come from the fact that you are getting a total body workout and using many muscle groups.
Since you can adjust the incline angle, 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.
Some elliptical exercise machines come with built in, programmable computers and heart rate monitors to help ensure that you're getting the most out of your exercise routine. The better machines have five to seven different workouts that can be programmed.
Also, many people feel that the elliptical motion feels very natural and is easy to sustain. They find that elliptical machines compliment and enhance normal body movements, making it feel as though this type of workout requires less exertion than other types of exercise.
But in reality, elliptical exercise works the cardio muscles and burns calories on a level equal or greater than treadmills, stair steppers and other similar equipment. It only
feels easier to use an elliptical machine.
Because most people find elliptical exercise equipment easy and fun to use, they are more likely to workout on a regular basis. Ongoing, consistent exercise is a key aspect of attaining good overall cardiovascular health.
Elliptical exercise machines offer something for
Elliptical workouts have become one of the most popular ways to exercise, both
at home and in the gym. The ease of use for all fitness levels, along with the low impact benefits, cardiovascular features, and total body capabilities make elliptical trainers an ideal choice for nearly anyone looking to get in shape, lose some weight, or even train for athletic events.
The ever increasing popularity of elliptical cross trainers has led to the
development of many different brands and models of machines and numerous variations on the
If you're planning to buy elliptical exercise equipment, you have many choices in a variety of price ranges, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
Look for machines that have a sturdy frame, adequately sized foot platforms, upper body handles, and adjustable inclines and directions. With these features on an elliptical home gym, you will be assured of getting a low impact, cardio-friendly, total body workout.
About the Author:
C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for
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