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Elliptical Exercise Machines Provide Low Impact, Total Body Workouts While Improving Cardiovascular Health

Ever since their introduction on the fitness scene several years ago, elliptical exercise machines have become increasing more popular and sophisticated. Estimates indicate that over six million people now prefer elliptical machines as their choice for home exercise equipment. The main reason elliptical exercise machines have become so popular is that they provide a low impact, total body workout that is challenging enough for serious athletes but safe enough for beginners and even expectant mothers. And when it comes to cardiovascular workouts, elliptical machines are tough to beat.

Low Impact Workout

Over time, research has shown that in order to maintain healthy bone density, it is necessary to engage in weight-bearing activities such as running, racquetball, aerobics, and other forms of exercise where you remain on your feet. But many of these activities involve jarring the bones and muscles and can aggravate old injuries and even cause new ones. The joints that can be injured or irritated 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 machine, you stand with your feet 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 type of elliptical pattern that the human foot follows when we walk or run. Although 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 have compared elliptical exercise equipment to pedaling a bike while standing up. Others have said they are like a cross between stair climbers and cross country skiing. 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.

An elliptical machine provides the benefits of weight bearing exercise but without the harmful stress and impact on your joints and muscles. There are few home exercise machines out there that give the same quality low impact workout.

Total Body Workout

Elliptical exercise machines also provide a total body workout. Because you are 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 swing your arms, carry small hand weights, 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 machines allow you to adjust the resistance setting and change the incline. These adjustments increase the challenge 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. For an all over body workout, few home gyms compare to an elliptical machine.

Cardiovascular Workout

Research has found that elliptical exercise machines also provide some of 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 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. Some elliptical machines come with built in, programmable computers and heart rate monitors to help ensure that you are getting the most out of your exercise routine. The better machines have five to seven different workouts that can be programmed.

In addition, many people feel that the elliptical motion feels 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 fact, studies have shown that 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.

Something For Everyone

Elliptical machine workouts have become one of the most popular forms of exercise, both in the gym and at home. 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 increasing popularity of elliptical technology has led to many different brands and models of equipment as well as numerous variations on the technology. Those seeking to purchase elliptical exercise equipment 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 She has researched a variety of different exercise equipment and believes that elliptical exercise machines provide some of the most user-friendly workouts available. Copyright 2005


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