If you work out at a health club you probably noticed that in the last few years there are fewer treadmills, because they are being replaced by elliptical trainers. And although treadmills still outsell ellipticals in total numbers, elliptical sales are growing at a faster rate.
What is driving the popularity of elliptical trainers? There are two factors that make elliptical trainers so appealing:
Benefits of a Low Impact Workout
Most types of exercise require some type of impact and/or reverse action. For example, when you walk each step is impacting force on your ankles, knees and lower back. That impact is minor in comparison to running, which can be as much as 2.5x your body weight. Over the years that constant pounding can result in long-term injuries and strains.
Elliptical trainers reduce the hazards of impact through an elliptical motion.It feels like you are naturally walking or running without any real impact or reverse action, and yet it is a weight bearing exercise that contributes to building muscle and bone density.
If you look at the side of an elliptical trainer you’ll notice the shape of the motion is like a flat circular pattern. Budget ellipticals tend to be more circular and bouncy, while quality machines have a flatter circular motion and more of an even stride. Regardless, the elliptical motion significantly reduces the impact to your joints, and that is why elliptical trainers are appealing to older individuals and people with injuries. It is becoming the exercise machine of choice for the “baby boomers.”
Benefits of an Upper and Lower Body Workout
The concept of exercising the upper and lower body simultaneously is revolutionary. An elliptical workout utilizes the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, back, triceps and biceps. There is no other machine that offers this benefit. You are not only exercising more muscle group, you are also optimizing your energy expenditure. That means it is taking less time to achieve more results, like burning calories and increasing your cardio capacity. A number of elliptical trainers allow you to reverse the motion, thereby emphasizing resistance to even more parts of your muscles.
By exercising more of your muscle mass you improve fat mobilization, which results in burning more calories and building muscle endurance more efficiently. Certain experts have suggested that this dual action process reduces the perceived rate of exertion. In other words, you are exercising harder without a noticeable difference from a less strenuous workout.
The benefit of an upper and lower body workout, combined with low impact exercising, are the reasons why elliptical trainers are so popular. And there is one other feature that should be noted. In comparison to treadmills, elliptical trainers require considerably less maintenance. That is due to the fact there are fewer moving parts, and less wear from impact.
If you haven’t tried an elliptical trainer, get to your local health club or a fitness equipment store and take one for an elliptical spin. Avoid the budget models and test the machines that are at least $1,000+. They have a more natural elliptical motion and are more stable and durable.
You’ll find that an elliptical trainer can have a major impact on your health and fitness.
Fred Waters worked in the fitness equipment industry for a number of years and is author of the Elliptical Trainer Rating and Review site. Check out the latest reviews on over 40 of the most popular elliptical trainers, and get important buying tips from the Elliptical Buyer's Guide.
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