Cardio workouts are an important element in maintaining a healthy body. In recent years the elliptical machine has grown in popularity and is quickly becoming the machine of choice for a well-rounded cardio workout and as an alternative to other more difficult cardio exercises. Below we’re going to explain why the elliptical machine is a great option to incorporate into your workout, as well as the benefits you can expect in doing so.
How Does It Differ From Other Cardio Exercises?
If you already use a treadmill for your cardio training fix, then an elliptical machine may be the perfect addition to round off your workout. This is because it works your muscles differently. For example, when running on a treadmill, you can increase the speed and incline, increasing the workout’s difficulty. In doing so, the upward resistance provided by the ground on your body will naturally create a greater emphasis on your calves, glutes, and hamstrings.
When you increase the difficulty settings on an elliptical machine, the resistance is different from a treadmill because your feet never leave the pedals and you’re not on solid ground. This creates a unique type of resistance that is similar to if you were trying to walk through deep mud. It is neither better nor worse than a treadmill; it’s merely different and theoretically will improve upper leg strength, whereas the treadmill would mainly impact your glutes and hamstring muscles.
Let’s Discuss the Benefits of Using an Elliptical Machine
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should add the elliptical machine to your workout regime, here is a list of benefits that may help you make up your mind:
- Aids in weight loss – On average, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine burns anywhere between 150 – 400 calories depending on a few variables such as your level of fitness, speed, and current weight. In addition to this, the exertion level using an elliptical machine is typically lower than other types of cardio machines. This means that even after a 30-minute session, you will still have enough energy to squeeze in a few additional exercises.
- Improves cardiovascular health and stamina – The elliptical machine is excellent at helping to increase your heart rate, which in turn strengthens your heart muscles. The benefits of improving the health of your heart will help protect you from ailments such as diabetes, asthma, and several chronic diseases. Research has proven that a healthy cardiovascular system can even reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. By steadily increasing the intensity of the workout, your lungs and heart will begin working harder to pump oxygen throughout your body. This results in improved stamina which also provides tremendous benefits to your body and for ongoing workouts.
- Reduces high blood pressure – Using an elliptical machine will help you feel less stressed and can have a positive effect on hypertension. Exercising releases serotonin into your body. This is the “chemical messenger” in your body that helps produce healthy sleeping patterns, acts as a mood stabilizer, and causes pressure-lowering and antihypertensive effects.
- Total body workout – The elliptical machine engages your entire body more effectively than many other cardio machines. For example, when you push with the right hand, your bicep and deltoid are activated. Further down, your hips, stomach, calves, glutes, and quads all become engaged as well due to the range of motion.
- Better balance – Improved balance and mobility will help you prevent falls which could lead to injury. The platform of an elliptical machine combined with the motion of the exercise creates better coordination between the limbs and brain which in turn improves your body’s agility and flexibility.
- Low impact – People with mobility problems and joint pains often avoid working out due to the fear of intensifying their issues. This is especially common among the elderly and people that have a past or ongoing injury. When compared to other cardio machines, the elliptical machine has an extremely low impact level because your feet never leave the pedals. This protects your joints from wear and tear that may cause injury or aggravate an existing one.
- Weight-bearing exercise – While the impact caused by using an elliptical is low, it does require the engagement of your muscles and bones to work to push the pedals and handles. This aids in building stronger muscles which can be very beneficial for individuals with underlying conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Enjoyable workout program – The action involved in an elliptical workout is much more enjoyable than most other cardio exercises as it requires significantly less attention than when running on a treadmill or rowing. You could easily maintain a conversation or watch something on television without interrupting or affecting your workout.
What Are the Disadvantages?
While the benefits of using an elliptical machine far outweigh the potential disadvantages, it is worth knowing what they are. This will allow you to alter other aspects of your workout accordingly. The major disadvantages include:
- Reduced bone and joint strength – We mentioned earlier that the elliptical creates a much lower impact on your bones and joints. On the other hand, though, some impact is important for building strength in these areas, and this is where the elliptical machine may come up a little short. Combining gentle strength training activities that you feel comfortable with will help bridge this gap and give you the best results with minimal discomfort.
- Improves muscle toning, not muscle building – It’s important to understand the difference between building and toning your muscles. Elliptical machines help with the latter. Building lean muscle requires higher resistance which comes with weight and other more strenuous cardio training such as rowing. Building muscle has several benefits, such as accelerating your metabolism, which is responsible for helping you burn more calories.
An elliptical machine workout is a full-body, low-impact exercise that can be done by nearly anyone. It is effective at helping with weight loss and significantly improves one’s cardiovascular capacity and overall heart functioning. In addition, elliptical machine exercises help with muscle toning and can positively impact ailments such as asthma, hypertension, and blood pressure. Adding this exercise to round off your existing workout regime will have you seeing significant results in just a few weeks.