There are several cardiovascular (cardio) machines to choose from, which can be confusing for beginner or infrequent visitors to health clubs. The best way to determine which machine is best for you and your fitness goals is to understand what each machine is built to do and how you can burn calories on it. All cardio machines are designed to elevate your heart rate through aerobic exercises. Aerobic can be defined as the use of oxygen (energy stores) during, easy, moderate, or strenuous activity in the body’s metabolic system. Increased breathing and heart rate, thereby increasing caloric burn, meet the body’s demand for oxygen.
The 3 most common cardio machines are the stationary bicycle, the treadmill, and the elliptical. The stationary bicycle is probably the easiest machine to start and has a very low impact on the body. This makes it a great machine for beginners. Users must keep in mind to keep their heart rate elevated and stay within the target heart rate (THR) zone. This zone is approximately 70% of an individual’s maximum heart rate (220bpm-age). This THR can be achieved through maintaining appropriate speed or increasing the resistance on the pedal stroke. Treadmills are also easy to start.
Advantages of using treadmills includes less impact on the body than running or walking outside, the various incline options and speed options. Users can use on of the pre-programmed workouts or a customized workout from a personal trainer to maximize the workout. This will also help to prevent boredom. The elliptical trainer is one of the newer cardio machines on the market. This machine provides a great low-impact workout, with some designed for a total body workout. The elliptical is appropriate for all fitness levels, however some beginners may initially find using the machine difficult, but they will acclimate to the machine.
Like the treadmill, users can add variety to their workouts by changing the resistance for the foot pedal and by changing the incline, as well as, being able to reverse the foot pedal motion. In summary, each one of the cardio machines will help one achieve his or her fitness goals as long as they stay focused during the workout and maintain the target heart rate level. Selection of the best machine is based on personal preference. Pick a machine that provides a challenge, maintains motivation, and does not exacerbate existing knee, joint or back problems.