Ellipticals > Elliptical Benefits

young woman ellipticaling
elliptical Ellipticals, also called elliptical trainers, combine the simplicity of stair climbers with the natural stride of treadmills.  An elliptical training machine requires the user to stand upright and stride in a forward or backward motion while holding the machine's handrails.  When used in this manner, it provides a lower body workout.  For a full body workout, elliptical machines can also be used without holding onto the handrails.

Since their introduction during the late 1990s, many ellipticals have been purchased for use in homes, gyms, and health clubs.  Their popularity is understandable, according to Gregory Florez of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), who once stated in Elliptical Trainers - More Than a Craze, "Elliptical cross-trainers are the only real breakthrough aerobic product of the past few years". 

Ellipticals offer a unique type of weight bearing workout that does not stress the joints excessively.  Because your feet stay on the pedals of the elliptical trainer, punishing impacts to your legs and feet are virtually eliminated.  Whether you stride forwards or backwards, and regardless of the resistance level you set, the risk of injury from overusing any single muscle group is reduced.  Furthermore, intensive, low impact, cardiovascular workouts on elliptical trainers are achieved through fluid, natural motions.  These non-jarring motions make elliptical trainers ideal for people with joint problems in their knees or hips.

Weight bearing exercises like running, aerobics, and hiking can build bone density and burn calories efficiently.  For people who are trying to burn calories, lose weight, and trim down, the weight-bearing arm and leg exercise on an elliptical machine optimizes energy output during moderate intensity exercise.  In addition, recent studies have demonstrated that the energy expended by overweight subjects was greater on an elliptical trainer than on a treadmill.

University Studies

elliptical machine pedals Two separate studies from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Mississippi argue for the effectiveness of the elliptical as a safe, low-impact aerobic workout.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that there was no significant difference in oxygen consumption, heart rate, and caloric expenditure between treadmill and elliptical trainer use.  When comparing the NordicTrack Ellipse trainer with a treadmill, a stair stepper, and a cycle ergometer, it was found that both the treadmill and elliptical trainer provided a superior medium to high intensity workout.  However, there was less impact when using an elliptical trainer (similar to walking), while the impact of a treadmill was similar to running.  According to lead researcher John Porcari, ellipticals "may provide a workout similar in intensity (to that of a treadmill), but with less chance for orthopedic injury."

A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) at the University of Mississippi tested four elliptical trainers.  They compared the NordicTrack Ellipse, the ICON Health and Fitness HealthRider Elliptical Crosstrainer, the Guthy-Renker Power Train, and the Quantum Television Cyclone Crosstrainer.  The study concluded that all four were similar in measurements of heart rate, perceived exertion, stride speed, and caloric expenditure.  The NordicTrack was rated highest by participants, and average calorie burn among all the ellipticals was shown to be equivalent to running an 11.5 minute mile.

woman using an elliptical machine In our busy lives, we can use total body exercise machines such as elliptical trainers to exercise multiple muscle groups in our bodies simultaneously and help maintain our cardiovascular health.  The upper and lower body workout of an elliptical exercises the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus as well as the pectorals, triceps, and biceps muscles.  For most people, the more muscle mass that is involved in an exercise, the more effective the exercise is at burning calories and building muscle endurance efficiently.  An elliptical can help you accomplish these objectives with less perceived exertion.

Elliptical Machine Variations

Elliptical machine manufacturers have developed many elliptical technology products.  Indeed, the market is filled with devices that vary the articulation of the user's ankles, knees, and hips.  The definition of elliptical technology has been diffused by the widespread application of the term to various and sundry devices, many lacking the design and mechanisms that provide a truly natural and fluid exercise motion.  When purchasing an elliptical training device, be sure to investigate your options carefully, and purchase a well-rated elliptical from a reputable exercise equipment manufacturer.

Conclusions and Further Reading

Because of the natural exercise motion and full body workout it provides, the elliptical training machine is expected to become more popular during the years ahead.  It appeals to an American population that tends to overeat and wants to burn excess fat and calories efficiently.  The elliptical also appeals to older people who desire a total body workout without bone and joint impacts.  Furthermore, ellipticals are compact in size, enabling many users to exercise in the convenience and privacy of their own homes.  Visit this elliptical trainers website for more information and an elliptical trainer manufacturer directory.

Reference Sources

  • ACE FitnessMatters, Elliptical Trainer Proves Effective, Volume 4, Issue 2, Mar/Mar, 1998, page 4.
  • ACE FitnessMatters, Elliptical Trainers Go Head-to-Head, Volume 4, Issue 3, May/June, 1998, page 11.
  • L. Kravitz, B. Wax, J.J. Mayo, R. Daniels and K. Charette. Metabolic response of elliptical exercise training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 30: S169, 1998.

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Elliptical Trainers - Ellipticals Guide - Elliptical Machines

two ellipticals in an office gym
Two Ellipticals in an Office Gym