The elliptical trainer is fast becoming the preferred machine for aerobic weight-bearing exercise. Elliptical trainers have several important advantages over other types of exercise equipment like stairsteppers and treadmills. In this article weíll discuss the features and benefits of ellipticals and explain why this machine should be included in your home fitness equipment. Weíll also tell you features to look for when shopping for the best elliptical trainer.
How an elliptical trainer works
The elliptical trainer has long, flat, oversized pedals that fit the entire length of the foot and then some. One end of the pedal, the front end, is attached to a crank like on a bicycle. Pressure on the crank rotates the front of the pedal in a circular motion. The back end of the pedal has linear motion during crank rotation. This combination of linear and circular motions results in overall elliptical movement patterns that vary depending where on the pedal the motion occurs. Toward the front of the pedal, the ellipses are wider and more circular. Toward the back of the pedal, the ellipses are longer and flatter. Studies have shown that this elliptical motion closely approximates leg and foot motion during walking, jogging and running. Attached to the front of the machines are long poles that move forward and back in a motion similar to using ski poles. In fact, the elliptical can be thought of as simulating cross-country skiing.
The elliptical trainer further explained
Elliptical machines are relative newcomers on the fitness scene. Combining the motion of walking with that of stair climbing, ellipticals offer a low impact full body workout because of the arm levers or handles. You stand in an upright position when using an elliptical. Because the elliptical closely mimics the natural foot motion of walking or jogging but doesnít require lifting the foot, its motion is completely fluid and non-jarring. The elliptical machine minimizes stress on the userís knees, hips and back. Because you donít have to lift your feet during the workout Ė they stay securely on the pedals -- the risk of injury is minimized. The elliptical works arms and legs together, so your workout will be more intense in a shorter span of time. To see the advantages of an elliptical, letís compare it to the treadmill, currently the most popular piece of home exercise equipment.
Elliptical versus treadmill
The treadmill concentrates strictly on the lower body while the elliptical exercises both the upper and lower body. Although walking on a treadmill has less impact than walking outdoors, there is still significant effect on the joints. Although both the treadmill and elliptical offer adjustable resistance and incline, only the elliptical can be pedaled in reverse motion, adding significant variety to the workout. The reverse motion also works different muscles. You can also choose to use the levers on an elliptical in order to vary the workout so you donít get bored. Many treadmills come with computers, pre-programmed workouts and heart rate monitors. Most ellipticals have similar features. An elliptical is quieter in operation than a treadmill and takes up less space. Although itís too soon to tell, the elliptical seems destined to displace the treadmill as the top form of aerobic exercise. While the elliptical and treadmill are about equal in health benefits, the elliptical provides these benefits with less risk of injury, shortens the workoutís duration and allows you more flexibility in your fitness routine.
About the Author:
Rita Liotta is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers regarding fitness equipment, home gyms, treadmills and exercise bikes. Her many articles give information and tips to help people save money and make smarter decisions. At www.1st-at-fitness-equipment.com