When looking for a low-impact exercise machine, many people are turning to elliptical trainers. They can be used at home without considerable training and offer a vigorous workout without harmful wear and tear on the knees, feet and ankles. This is especially helpful for athletes looking for a complete body workout to complement other fitness programs without risking injury outside their sport.
When choosing an elliptical, consumers should consider where it will fit, in addition to having a convenient place to use it. The space should be comfortable in lighting and temperature, without distractions of other people walking through or preventing a proper workout. The weight of the equipment plus the individual using it should be considered when choosing a location. Models weigh approximately 40 to 50 pounds. As with any fitness equipment, sturdy flooring, a flat surface and strong foundational supports are critical to the use of an elliptical trainer. The surface does not have to be level, since the equipment typically comes with adjustable bases or leveling feet. The machine is not electrically powered, so it does not have to be located near an electrical outlet, although the digital display is usually battery-operated.
While the popularity of the elliptical machine is on the rise, many people still don’t understand what it is or how to use it. The typical elliptical machine looks similar to a stationary bike without a seat. Depending on the exact design, the upper handles may be a single or double set and have hand grips for comfort. Some models offer handlebars which are U-shaped stationary bicycle handlebars. Some also have mobile handles. They are shaped like vertical poles, moving back and forth to give the arm muscles a workout. Textured foot plates are used to simulate pedaling or stepping on an elliptical path. Like a bicycle, the feet never leave the pedals. The pedal range and distance is standard on the machine, although the amount of resistance can be adjusted to vary the workout. Sneakers or close-toed shoes should be worn during a workout.
Most machines have a digital display for those who want to track their progress in speed, distance, time, pulse rate and calories burned. Digital programming options are also available for beginners to advance. The foot placement pattern can be adjusted on some models for a different feel on the muscles.
Elliptical equipment offers the user a cardiovascular workout that is useful for muscle toning, body shaping and weight loss. Machines with moving arms can exercise both arms and legs at the same time, as well as the back, shoulders and chest.