Elliptical machines with moving handles provide a more balanced workout.
Since elliptical trainers came on the scene in the mid-1990s, they have grown in popularity more than any other type of cardiovascular equipment, according to the American Council on Exercise. These machines provide an elliptical motion that is like a combination of running and cycling. Despite their many benefits to an exercise routine, elliptical machines are not right for everyone and might not be effective as your only source of exercise.
Elliptical machines provide a cardiovascular workout, but the low-impact exercise you obtain does not provide an effective way to gain muscle strength. Similarly, the low-impact workout does not provide the bone-strengthening of weight-bearing exercises. Therefore, you might need to add muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises to your routine. Talk to a doctor first if you're in a special population that needs low-impact exercises.
Not the Right Fit
Elliptical trainers are not right for every person or need. Although elliptical machines are normally safe on the knees, they might give knee pain if you have a knee condition or injury. In this case, you might benefit more from a stationary bike or a different type of exercise recommended by a doctor or fitness professional. If you're training for a running race, a treadmill or road running will condition your body for running motions better than the elliptical. Nonetheless, it will provide some cross-training and variety.
In 30 minutes, elliptical machines burn about 335 calories for a 155-pound person. This is more than many activities like low-impact and high-impact aerobics, weight lifting and moderate cycling on a stationary bike. However, you will achieve a better calorie burn with some other types of activities like high-impact step aerobics, vigorous cycling on a stationary bike and running at a pace of 6 mph or faster.
Don't Rule It Out
Despite some disadvantages, elliptical trainers have plenty of advantages. They give a cardiovascular workout similar to a treadmill that can boost your health and help you lose or maintain your weight. Elliptical machines provide a low-impact workout that takes some stress off your legs and back. In addition, many elliptical machines provide features like pedaling backward to work the calves and hamstrings, and handles to help you work out your arms.