Cardio Exercise with Elliptical Machines

by Heather Duchan | September 1st, 2011 | Cardio

Elliptical machines are a favorite tool for exercise beginners. They offer a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints, but still provides the same cardio benefits over more intense workouts like running. Another benefit is that these machines have a low “perceived rate of exertion,” meaning that you don’t feel like you’re working as hard as you really are when you’re on one. Elliptical trainers are also abundantly available at most gyms, and they can be purchased for home use for a few hundred dollars. Getting started onto a path of fitness is pretty simple with this equipment, especially if you take into account a few tips.

First of all, don’t over extend yourself. Most ellipticals have settings that allow you to change the resistance level. If you’re a beginner, stick to the lowest level until you feel comfortable with it. Trying too hard in the beginning can set you up for burn out and before you know it, you’ll be back on the couch without any kind of cardio routine.

Although you should take it easy at first, it’s important to set some goals. After your first few workouts, get an idea of how much you can do and make a realistic goal. A good method of measuring progress on an elliptical machine is strides per minute (SPM). SPM is a measure of how many times your legs rotate as you’re moving. This is tracked by ellipticals, and it will display on the dashboard. For a beneficial cardio workout, aim for a SPM stat that falls between 140 and 160.

Another way to get the most out of your workout, without feeling like you’re working harder, is to make sure you involve your whole body. When using the elliptical, work both your arms and legs. This will get your heart pumping quickly and keep it at that level for the duration of your workout. It will also help tone your upper body so you’ll be on your way to a more sculpted look.

Lastly, if you want to make elliptical workouts part of your lifestyle for good, make it fun. Some people who workout on these machines try to read books and magazines, but doing so can cause motion sickness. A better bet is to play some energizing music in the background or park your machine in front of the television, and catch up on your favorite shows.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.