We begin here a series on the widely available exercise machines in the market and discuss the pros and cons of each. The information we provide may help you in choosing the right equipment to aid you in your quest for a toned and fit body.
Elliptical exercise machines
When they were introduced a few years ago, the elliptical machines were just a variation of the exercise cycles that were popular mainly because of the affordability factor. These days however, the ellipticals are as popular as treadmills especially as they are now more sophisticated even while they are affordable. In fact, statistics show that more and more people are buying these machines which are becoming a viable choice for home exercise equipment.
Trainers recommend these machines strongly as they provide a low impact, total body workout that is safe enough and beneficial for beginners even while proving challenging enough for serious athletes. In fact, they are supposed to be quite safe for expectant mothers as they provide the low impact workout too much risk. As for cardiovascular workouts, these elliptical machines are hard to beat.
So what does this oft used term `low impact` really mean?
In order to maintain a health bone density, it is very essential that we engage in some form of weight bearing activity like running, aerobics and other such forms of exercise which require you to be on your feet. The risk factor in these kinds of activities is that all of them involve straining the bones and muscles and can cause injuries, or maybe, even aggravate old ones. Usually, one finds that the parts affected are the knees, ankles, hip and of course the all-important back. What people who are affected by joint pains, or are on a recovery track after an accident, or even pregnant women need is a low impact, easy, strain-free exercise routine. This is what an elliptical machine provides.
How does the elliptical differ from a treadmill?
On an elliptical machine, one stands on small movable platforms, so that fulfills the requirement that one has to bear weight for any exercise to be effective. This then is good for bone density. There is an even, smooth pedalling movement which is kind of oval " caused by you stepping up and down on the platforms (which replace the circular movement of the exercise cycle). Isn`t it similar to the elliptical pattern that our feet follow when we walk or run? Minus of course the jarring that occurs when we are on a treadmill or running outdoors. As your feet never leave the footpads it makes for a safer workout even while it reduces the stress on the joints. On close scrutiny, the movement an elliptical provides resembles the movement one gets while pedalling on a bike standing up. It is also often compared to stair climbing or even skiing. The difference is that on a steppe, the movement is halted when you reversed direction. On an elliptical, you will find the repetitive stress is less on the feet, legs and the back as the amount of flexion varies when you use different speeds and inclines. It is in this aspect that the elliptical scores over other home exercise equipment.
How does one get a total body workout on an elliptical?
On an elliptical, you are either walking or running in place and therefore your leg muscles, as well as those in your buttocks, back and abdomen are all used. Once you are comfortable with the machine, you can swing your arms while carrying small weights. You can also go in for an elliptical that comes with handles to improve your upper body, toning your biceps and triceps. Do not rest your arms on the machine`s frame as the workout impact gets lowered as a result. Ellipticals with adjustable inclines and speed levels have a definite advantage. In such machines the cardio vascular benefits are many. The motion it provides is also natural and easy to sustain making you exert yourself less than you would in other exercise equipment. There is also a psychological advantage " because it is easy and fun to use, you will find that you are much more regular in your workout and this in turn means consistency which will be sure to produce good results.
Look for ellipticals that basically have a sturdy body, good sized foot platforms, upper body handles and of course, adjustable speeds and inclines. Once you get your machine, you can be assured of a good low impact, cardio friendly, total workout home gym equipment.