About Elliptical Training Machines

By Michelle Kerns

  • Overview

    About Elliptical Training Machines
    About Elliptical Training Machines
    Elliptical training machines have become an increasingly popular way to exercise, particularly since they provide a safe, low-impact aerobic workout suitable for everyone from fit athletes to those just beginning an exercise program.
  • What are elliptical training machines?

    Elliptical training machines, sometimes also called elliptical gliders, elliptical cross trainers or simply ellipticals, resemble the cross country machines popular in the 1980s, but are able to simulate more types of exercise. Most elliptical machines can simulate cycling, skiing, stepping and forward or backward walking at various rates. Many can provide a full-body workout. All are designed so that the exerciser's legs are moving in an oval (elliptical) pattern while the arms move back and forth.
  • What are the benefits of using an elliptical training machine?

    One of the primary benefits of making an elliptical training machine part of any exercise program is its ability to provide a full cardiovascular workout with very little strain caused to the joints. This makes elliptical machines an excellent choice for the elderly and people suffering from joint problems or arthritis. In addition, many types of elliptical machines can provide a full-body workout in less than an hour. Many health and exercise experts recommend that elliptical machines should only be one part of an exercise program that includes varied weight-bearing activities. Elliptical machines can add a fun, novel aspect to any workout regimen.


  • What are the disadvantages of elliptical training machines?

    Because elliptical machines deliver such a low-impact workout, it is often easy for inexperienced exercisers to overdo it and bring their heart rates up to levels well over physician-recommended ranges. Exercisers, particularly women, need to also be careful to include weight-bearing exercises in their workouts to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Purchasing an elliptical training machine for home use can be confusing because of the wide variety of designs and features offered. And the price, ranging anywhere from $300 to $5,000, can be prohibitively high.
  • What types of elliptical training machines are available?

    The number and variety of elliptical training machines available is dizzying. However, high-quality elliptical training machines will invariably include dual directions, manual options and a variety of programmed courses to choose from. Some can be folded up for easy storage; other, larger "dual-action" machines provide entire body workouts. The best elliptical training machines offer a number of features, such as upper body arm bars, adjustable resistance and variable stride length.
  • What are the most important considerations when purchasing an elliptical training machine?

    If you are considering purchasing an elliptical training machine for use at home, there are a number of features that you should compare and contrast between various models, including the stride length, whether or not the ramp angle can be adjusted, if the machine offers a wide variety of resistances to choose from, if the machine provides a full body or primarily lower body workout, and if the machine works quietly and smoothly. It's best to try out several different elliptical machines at sporting goods stores to get a feel for how they work; be sure to do this in your workout clothes (including your athletic shoes), for at least 10 minutes on each machine. Also, take a look at reviews of various types of elliptical trainers on Consumerreports.com or Epinions.com to see what other consumers have to say.
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