Elliptical machines provide a cardiovascular workout similar to the one obtained through walking, running or using a treadmill. On an elliptical machine, you move your legs in an elliptical motion without ever lifting your feet from the pedals. Elliptical machines come in many different varieties, but the fitness benefits they offer remain relatively constant.
Unlike reclining or upright bicycles, elliptical machines provide weight-bearing exercise, meaning that you must support your body’s weight as you work out. Weight-bearing exercise helps to build bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Most weight-bearing activities, such as walking or running, cause wear and stress on your joints. Elliptical machines offer a no-impact alternative to these activities. Your feet never have to leave the pedals. This aspect of elliptical workouts makes them much easier on the joints, particularly the knees and hips.
Unlike treadmills and exercise bikes, elliptical machines often incorporate upper body exercise with moving poles that you pull on with your arms. Thus, you can achieve an efficient upper- and lower-body workout in less time. Elliptical machines work a variety of muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes, as well as some in the arms, including the triceps and biceps. Elliptical machines can also strengthen your abdominal muscles. When you maintain a proper upright posture during an elliptical workout, you will automatically engage your core muscles.
Most elliptical machines offer adjustable settings. You can increase or decrease the machine’s incline or resistance to suit your needs. You can also choose to pedal forwards or backwards. Depending on the incline, resistance and direction you choose to use, you can give yourself an easier or harder workout with an emphasis on different muscles. Many elliptical machines also provide a variety of basic workout templates, such as interval workouts or hills.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.