The Benefits of Elliptical Workout

By William McCoy

Whether you choose to work out in a gym or at home, an elliptical trainer can help you transform your body through cardiovascular exercise. This machine, which provides resistance to work your lower and upper body at the same time as you boost your heart rate, is an effective way to burn calories in your attempt to lose weight. Additionally, the lack of joint impact you experience during an elliptical workout makes this machine suitable for those with a range of ailments.

High Caloric Burn

If you weigh 185 pounds and spend just 30 minutes using the machine, you burn about 400 calories, according to Harvard Health Publications. The formula for weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume over a specific period. In doing so, you shift your body into a caloric deficit, which causes you to lose fat. While your diet contributes to your ability to achieve this deficit, the use of an elliptical trainer can play an instrumental role in weight loss, given the machine's notable caloric burn.

Several Cardiovascular Benefits

Using an elliptical trainer is an example of an cardiovascular workout, but one that provides more of a full-body challenge than riding a stationary bike or jogging on a treadmill. The elliptical challenges your upper and lower body by providing varying degrees of resistance, and using the elliptical backward provides even more of a challenge for your quadriceps muscles. When you use the handles to work your arms, you're further increasing your heart rate. The cardiovascular benefits you receive from using the elliptical trainer include strengthening your heart, reducing plaque in your arteries and improving your stamina, according to MayoClinic.org. Cardiovascular exercise can also improve your mood, which is why you might find yourself with a healthy addiction to using the elliptical trainer.

Stronger Muscles

Although many people use the elliptical trainer as a method of burning calories, this machine also contributes to greater muscular strength. Although using the machine isn't an alternative to dedicated strength training, it works large muscles such as your hips, glutes, hamstrings and quads, and engages your core muscles as you maintain an upright posture. The trainer also works several muscle groups in your chest, arms and back, provided you use the machine's handles. Seek out a machine with moving handles -- in addition to the added muscle-building benefits, the handles contribute to a greater caloric burn -- and be sure to increase the handles' resistance.

Healthy for Your Joints

Elliptical trainers provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout, which makes them favorable to higher-impact activities such as running or taking a step aerobics class. The low-impact nature of the workout isn't likely cause pain in the joints in your lower body; as such, this workout is suitable for people with joint pain and those who are overweight or have osteoporosis. The machine's handles can provide stability for those with balance issues, and the handles are also useful for beginners until they get used to the feeling of the machine.

Risks of Elliptical Trainers

Although using an elliptical trainer can lead to a variety of health benefits, this workout isn't without its risks. Some people experience toe numbness during their elliptical workout due to the constant pressure on your toes. Fix this feeling by switching your direction every 20 minutes; pedaling backward alleviates the pressure on your toes. It's also possible to develop lower-body pain if the machine isn't set up correctly for your stride. Always seek the help of an experienced trainer if you're new to using an elliptical trainer. Discontinue your use of the machine if you can't use it comfortably.

References

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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