Here are 5 of the top elliptical machine benefits to help you on your way to deciding if buying one is for you or not:
Increase Your Cardio Fitness
Cardio is short for cardiovascular, meaning heart, however cardio fitness is about improving not only the strength and efficiency of your heart, but that of all the components of your body used when you exercise. This includes:
- Strengthening your heart
- Increasing the amount of red blood cells used to carry oxygen to your muscles
- Improving the amount of carbohydrates in your muscles, which increases your muscles ability to work harder and longer
- Increasing the number and distribution of blood vessels in your muscles, allowing your muscles to recieve blood quicker
- Increasing the aerobic metabolism which is the speed and efficiency at which your muscles can process oxygen
Increasing your cardio fitness tunes up your body, making it run faster and more efficiently, you will feel better every minute of the day.
Here are some of the most common benefits experienced:
- Sleeping better and deeper as your heart and circulatory system can work better this allows you to relax easier, you are less likely to get twitchy legs or interrupted sleep
- Being more alert throughout your waking day, as you improve your circulatory system your brain will receive more oxygen, which makes you think clearer and stay more alert
- Feeling better during any form of movement, whether this is walking up the stairs, playing with the kids, doing household chores or standard exercise, this will all feel much easier like someone has given you a shot of energy.
- Being able to exercise harder and for longer, this is the great self improving loop that increasing your cardio fitness:
You Exercise –> You Increase Your Cardio Fitness –>
You Can Now Exercise Harder & Longer –>
You Increase Your Cardio Fitness More
Your heart has a maximum rate it will beat at per minute, everyone’s maximum heart rate is different, it can be increased through cardio exercise and it generally decreases as you age. A general method for estimating your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. So on average a 20 year old will have a maximum heart rate of 200 beats per minute, whereas a 40 year old will have a max of 180 beats per minute.
Any form of exercise where you are increasing your heart rate to between 60% and 80% of your maximum will be aerobic or cardio, exercise at more than 80% will start to be anaerobic, which means you’re performing it without Oxygen as your body can’t get the Oxygen to your muscles in the speed and quantity demanded.
You’ll only be able to perform anaerobic exercise for short periods of time, generally up to 3-4 minutes then you’ll start to get muscle fatigue, burning and cramps forcing you to slow down.
Most Elliptical Machines have heart rate monitors, either with chest strap wireless sensors or grip sensors which you hold. The elliptical will ask you for your age and use this to estimate your maximum heart rate. Many ellipticals also have specific heart rate programs, which focus on making you exercise at specific percentages of your maximum heart rate, the resistance will increase to make you work harder and increase your heart rate then when you get within the target zone resistance will adjust to keep you in the target heart rate zone.
You can also buy a watch heart rate monitor to easily track your current exercise rate.
Your body is a machine; you provide it fuel through food and drink, which it then converts to energy to operate. That operation may be simply keeping your organs functioning while you’re asleep or running a marathon.
When you give you body more fuel than it needs it stores it as fat, when you demand more operation of your body than you have supplied fuel for it will use this fat supply. This is an evolutionary response to changes in available food supplies.
Before the advent of farming we would have had to forage or hunt our food so there wasn’t a consistent on tap supply, the storage of fat allowed us to build up energy stores when times were good and we found lots of food then draw on those stores when time were bad and we couldn’t catch dinner that day.
Losing weight is achieved through a combination of managing this balance between fuel supplied to your body and fuel used via exercise, in order to lose weight you need to burn more fuel than your take in.
We use calories as a measure of fuel, consuming food provides an increase in your body’s available calories, then moving (even breathing) uses these calories. When you burn more calories than you take in, this is called creating a calorie deficit. 1 lb of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, this means for every 1 lb of fat you wish to lose you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories.
A safe sustainable way to lose weight is to create an average daily calorie deficit of 500 calories.
500 calories X 7 days per week = 3,500 calories
= 1 lb of weight loss per week.
The amount of calories you’ll burn on an elliptical machine will depend on your weight and how hard you work on the elliptical. If you weigh 150 lbs and work really hard for 1 hour you can expect to burn around 430 calories, if however you weigh 200 lbs and do the same workout you’ll burn around 570 calories.
It’s unrealistic to expect to be able to workout on your elliptical 7 days a week, so aim for 3 – 4 days a week, with days of resting in between, here’s an examples of simple weight loss plan using an elliptical machine and minor diet calorie reductions.
|Day||Reduction in Calorie Intake||Elliptical Workout||150 lb person Calorie Deficit||200 lb person Calorie Deficit|
|Sunday||Normal – 300 calories||1 hour intense||300 + 430 = 730||300 + 570 = 870|
|Monday||Normal – 300 calories||None||300||300|
|Tuesday||Normal – 300 calories||1 hour intense||300 + 430 = 730||300 + 570 = 870|
|Wednesday||Normal – 300 calories||None||300||300|
|Thursday||Normal – 300 calories||1 hour intense||300 + 430 = 730||300 + 570 = 870|
|Friday||Normal – 300 calories||None||300||300|
|Saturday||Normal – 300 calories||1 hour intense||300 + 430 = 730||300 + 570 = 870|
|Total||-2,100 calories||4 hours intense||3,820 (1.1 lb fat loss)||4,380 (1.2 lb fat loss)|
For a great selection of workouts check out our elliptical workout pal with over 100 workouts searchable to duration and workout features, you’ll definitely find the right one for you.
Low Impact Exercise
Elliptical machine workouts are frequently compared to running, minute for minute running is one of the most efficient forms of exercise to burn calories, however running can take a toll on your body that’s not suitable for everyone.
Impact as you run can cause various types of pain:
- Blisters & general foot pain
- Shin splints
- Knee pain
- Hip pain
This may mean that depending on your current health and weight you actually spend more time recovering from injuries than you do exercising.
There are 3 typical exercises usually considered when looking for a low impact way to exercise::
- Elliptical Machine
Cycling is low impact as the circular movement of the pedals mean you never need to impact the floor, however many people complain about saddle soreness.
Swimming is low impact as the water supports your body weight, however you need to be a reasonably proficient swimmer and be able to travel to your local swimming pool to exercise.
Elliptical exercise is low impact as it lets your body move through similar form of exercise as running but does so without the need to lift your feet from the pedals. This can also be performed in the comfort of your own home, making this an ideal low impact exercise.
Elliptical machines are a relatively cheap form of exercise:
- budget elliptical for less than $200
- mid range elliptical will cost around $600
- best ones for less than $1,000.
At first glance this may seem like a lot of money, but compare this to the recurring price of gym membership or fitness classes and even in your first year of ownership you’ll find it’s significantly cheaper to buy yourself an elliptical for home use.
Here’s an example of a budget, mid level and top level elliptical machine and similar level treadmills, the prices fluctuate a bit so follow the links to see a current price on Amazon.
||Phoenix 98510 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill
|Mid level||Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer
||Proform 505 CST Treadmill
|Best||Schwinn 450 Elliptical Trainer||LifeSpan TR 1200i Folding Treadmill
To see a further breakdown of how the cost of an elliptical machine compares to other aerobic exercise see Elliptical vs Treadmill and Others.
Easily Maintain Your Routine
The final benefit I’ll list here is the most important one to increasing your fitness level and reducing weight, that is the ability to easily maintain a repeatable routine.
If you want to increase your fitness or lose weight it will require you to dedicate yourself, there is no way around this.
You will need to climb onto that elliptical day after day after day after day after day.
If you’re not prepared to do that, please save yourself the money and don’t buy one.
If you are prepared to put in the work then it really just comes down to setting yourself a routine (such as the one listed above in the weight loss section) and sticking to it. The beauty of buying an elliptical for home use is it makes it so much easier for you to stick to that routine:
- You don’t need to leave your house
- You can workout while spending time with your family / watching your kids
- You can watch your favorite TV shows while exercising
- You can look at the machine every day as a reminder that you should be using it
- Increase your cardio fitness
- Lose weight
- Low impact exercise
- Relatively cheap
- Easily Maintain Your Routine
Don’t buy an elliptical machine to put in the spare room as a fancy clothes hanger or dust collector, if you’re going to part with your hard earned cash make sure you’re going to use it.
Then check out our Elliptical Machine product pal to help you find the best elliptical for what you want.