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What is an Elliptical Machine?
An elliptical machine is a relatively new piece of cardiovascular fitness equipment. The elliptical machine was designed by the Precor Company back in the 1980s. In the 1980s the market was dominated by, other cardiovascular machines like the treadmill and the stair stepper. However both the treadmill and the stair stepper place impact stress on your feet and joints as you exercise.
Precor developed the elliptical movement concept to minimize impact and to create a movement that is less stressful on the joints. An elliptical trainer or cross-trainer is a stationary exercise machine used to mimic stair climbing, walking, or running without causing unnecessary weight to the joints, hence diminishing the danger of impact injuries. For this reason, people with some injuries are able to use an elliptical to stay physcially fit, as the low impact of the elliptical affects them very little.
Who should use an Elliptical Machine?
Well as an "older" former college football player and track athlete with nagging knee and hamstring injuries I would say the elliptical machine has been a godsend. With an elliptical machine, your feet remain in contact with the foot pedals, so there is nearly no impact. The circular movement delivers a more aerobic workout when equated with straight walking, yet the movement is smaller than and not as traumatic on the joints as the treadmill or stair stepping.
An elliptical machine benefits anyone who is looking for an aerobic or cardiovascular workout. A regular cardiovascular workout can help reduce the chances of developing heart disease. During an elliptical workout the heart is exercised and just like other muscles, working out aerobically helps make the heart muscle stronger. Because the heart becomes stronger, the heart can pump more blood through the body with less stress.
Elliptical machines also benefit people with knee, hip or back problems as well as those with who have arthritis, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. I was surprised during my research to find that individuals with osteoporosis could benefit from using a elliptical machine. The low impact nature of the machine along with the muscles building capability can help build bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which is essential as we become "older" and our body"s bone mass, begins to decline. Ellipticals are the machine of choice for seniors exercisers with knee issues, as well as personal trainers who are involved in rehabilitating their elderly clients.
Elliptical Trainers and Weightloss
I think elliptical trainers do extremely well as the main piece of fitness equipment for a weight loss regiment. First of all, if you are overweight and you are not using an elliptical trainer and start training hard with a different type of fitness equipment say a treadmill or stair stepper you really will feel those extra pounds. You will feel out of shape after a couple of days into your new workout program you are going to be sore. If your back, knees or feet are sore chances are you will be second guessing your decision to start a workout program to begin with. So it is best to start off using a piece of equipment that will not put so much stress on your body. If you are going to make a commit to losing weight it is better to start off with a piece of fitness equipment that you are going to use.
Studies have found that the rate at which calories are burned on an elliptical trainer is similar to that on a treadmill. Thomas Altena, a professor of nutritional and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, measured oxygen retention, lactic acid build-up, heart rate, and observed rate of exertion to compare treadmills and elliptical trainers, finding that the "physiological responses associated with elliptical exercise were nearly identical to treadmill exercise".
So not only are the calories burned on elliptical machine comparable to running on a treadmill you do not get that constant pounding on your knees. While I am losing weight on my elliptical trainer one of the things I like most about the machine is that it is quiet. Because your feet never leave the pedals you don"t get that clump, clump sound of your pounding feet on the treadmills belt. This is good for those who enjoy an early morning workout without disturbing others.
What to Look for When Buying an Elliptical Machine
There are three types of elliptical trainers, categorized by the motor or "drive" location. The oldest elliptical design is the "rear drive" type. The "front-drive" elliptical was the second generation design. The latest design technology is the "center-drive".
When buying an elliptical machine here is a list of important features you will want to consider.
(1) Comfortable Foot Pedals - Are the elliptical pedals adjustable or nonadjustable pedals?
(2) Heart Monitor - Most premium elliptical models have a built in heart monitors so you know when your hitting your targeted heart rate.
(3) Noise Level - Unless you"re shopping strictly in the budget section most models are pretty quiet. The magnetic resistance models are quieter than belts.
(4) Safety Features - Automatic machine turnoffs are always a good idea especially when children are there. Look at the maximum suggested weight load. Following these manufacturers guideline will help ensure that the equipment will remain in proper working order.
(5) Size - Remember most full size ellipitcals are big. The average ellipticals are about 5 to 7 feet long, which takes up a sizeable amount of floor space. While space-saving ellipticals can fold down for easy storage, others must stay in their upright form when not in use.
(6) Stride Length - (5"3" or smaller) can use elliptical machines that have an 16" to 18" stride length, and if you are 5"7" to 6"7" your best choice will be a 20" or 21" stride length.
(7) Warranty - Very important especially when making your purchase online.
Best Elliptical Trainers for Home Use
Horizon EX-59 Elliptical Trainer
The Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer is a highly advanced cardio workout machine designed to transform your home into a fully functional workout center. Featuring a state of the art ergonomic design, customizable pre-programmed fitness routines and personalized accessories, this remarkable elliptical unit is a true advancement in home cardio equipment. 10 program options for combination workouts with on-the-fly changes. Warranty: Lifetime warranty on the frame, 20 years on the brakes and 1 year on all parts and labor.
Exerpeutic 1000XL Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
The Exerpeutic 1000XL Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical Trainer is a zero-impact resistance machine designed to provide a stable, safe and comfortable workout without stressing or straining the joints. Ideal for individuals trying to burn calories and fat, this elliptical device is specially constructed to provide a smooth and simple cardio routine that engages the entire body from head to toe. Warranty: Three year limited manufacturer"s warranty.
Stamina Avari Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
The Stamina Avari Magnetic Elliptical Trainer Features an integrated activity meter to help track your exercise progress, and Stamina"s revolutionary InTouch Fitness Monitor to measure and track your body mass index (BMI), pulse rate, percentage of body fat, and pulse recovery time, Stamina helps you get into shape faster. Offering all the benefits of a low-impact workout while incorporating full body movement to stimulate metabolism and maximize results, the Avari Magnetic Elliptical is the ideal home fitness and training system. Warranty: 90 days warranty for parts, 3 year warranty on frame.