Elliptical trainers are one piece of fitness equipment that has exploded in popularity over the past decade. Why has it become so popular? There are several reasons that elliptical trainers have made inroads into the fitness market. One of the biggest advantages offered by elliptical trainers is their ability to offer a full body workout while minimizing impact and stress on joints.
Description: An elliptical trainer, sometimes called a cross trainer, is a stationary exercise device used for walking, stair climbing, or running without causing undue stress to the bones, thus reducing the risk of serious impact injuries. Because of this feature, elliptical trainers are excellent for people with some physical injuries because the low impact keeps them out of danger. Many runners use an elliptical trainer to get a full body workout because the stress on the knees, hips, and ankles is greatly reduced during a run.
Elliptical trainers were invented by a runner himself, back in 1990. The inventor, a former Olympic high jump star, was attempting to find ways to increase his running speed. He discovered that by changing the tension on the elliptical motion – adjusting the pedal leverages between running and jogging – he could greatly increase the distance, time, and intensity of his runs. Other athletes like track star Paula Farley have used elliptical trainers to improve their jogging and racing performance.
Benefits vs. Disadvantages: The benefits of using an elliptical trainer are enormous compared to using one of the other two most common types of fitness equipment – treadmills and running on a treadmill. While a treadmill simulates a natural outdoor running environment, the only way you are going to get a real aerobic workout is by actually walking outdoors. Running on a treadmill will only provide you with a simulated outdoor aerobic workout. By not having to worry about weather, traffic, or other elements, running on a treadmill is extremely low impact. However, if you have trouble getting off the treadmill for extended periods of time, your calorie burn will be severely limited.
While elliptical trainers are great at simulating outdoor activities, they may not be the best choice for cardio workouts. Elliptical trainers are only meant for cardiovascular workouts. While they are good at burning calories, they are not efficient at burning off excess fat. You may want to choose another cardio workout machine instead of an elliptical trainers if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight.
Joint Pain vs. Joint Pain: Elevated knee pain and osteoarthritis can be caused by overuse of a cardiovascular machine. Some of the problems that may result from overusing an elliptical trainer include over-utilization, improper form, over training, and joint stress. Since joint pain and osteoarthritis may be caused by overuse of these machines, it is important that athletes first consult with their physical therapist before using an elliptical machine. If these problems are present, you may want to try using a cardiovascular machine to target the problem areas instead of an elliptical.