Whether you're in the market for new fitness equipment for your home gym, or you just want something you can hop on to get a good sweat going, cardio exercise machines are great for getting, and staying, in shape in the comfort of your home. Before you head to your local sporting goods store to purchase a new cardio exercise machine, make sure you know exactly what you want and the type of workout you're looking for.
While there may be different versions and variants of popular, cardio exercise machines, the five most popular machines to choose from are:
The classic treadmill is probably the most well-known cardio exercise machine on the market. The purpose of a treadmill is to mimic running on a track or open road, while remaining in a stationary location. Most treadmills include various settings to increase or decrease the pace of your movement from a slow walk to a fast sprint. Treadmills also feature an incline setting to mimic elevated roads, like running up a hill.
By experimenting with the various settings, you can create a cardio workout that is the equivalent of walking or running a marathon. Well, maybe a half-marathon. You can make adjustments for just about any type of workout, from a 20-minute hill climb to a 10-minute jog. The treadmill may seem a bit basic for some, but the effectiveness of running, walking and jogging for physical fitness and better health has been proven for quite some time.
2. Stationary Bike
If running for better fitness doesn't interest you, look into purchasing a stationary bike. Used to mimic biking on an open road, stationary bikes feature various settings to increase and decrease resistance while you peddle. Altering the resistance settings allows you to make your biking session more difficult depending on your fitness needs.
The stationary bike might not seem as physically intensive as the other cardio exercise machines. Even at the highest resistance settings, the rate of calories you're burning per hour are typically fewer when exerting the same amount of effort on another cardio machine. However, the stationary bike is easy on the joints and is perfect for those looking for a low-impact workout.
3. Elliptical Machine
An elliptical machine offers a full-body, cardio workout. The inclusion of moveable handle bars offers a full-body workout unlike most other cardio exercise machines. The easiest way to explain how an elliptical works is to imagine yourself performing a standing foot pedal, with two long handle bars attached to the foot pedals that can assist you with pedaling by pulling and pushing the handles back and forth. The handlebars are almost like a skier's poles, and the pedals are the skis. The pedaling motion, in conjunction with the pushing and pulling of the handle bars offer an upper and lower body workout.
Aside from offering a full-body workout, another benefit of owning an elliptical machine is it's easier on the joints than a treadmill, but offers a tougher workout than the stationary bike. Elliptical machines might also be more appealing to those who find treadmills and stationary bikes too boring for them.
The stair climber is a cardio exercise machine that either has a rotating set of steps or a set of standing foot pedals, similar to an elliptical machine. This cardio exercise machine is meant to mimic climbing an endless flight of stairs, with various settings and speeds to increase or decrease difficulty.
You can get a better workout in by pumping your arms in the same manner you would if you were speed walking or running. Many people feel compelled to rest their arms and hands on the side handles of the stair climber, or leaving them lazily at their sides. Doing this will only rob you of a better workout and burning more calories.
5. Rowing Machine
A rowing machine is designed to mimic the movements used for rowing a boat. This cardio exercise machine also offers a great, full-body workout. A rowing machine typically features an adjustable seat that slides on a horizontal beam, a foot rest with foot straps and two rowing handles attached to a chord or chain. By pushing off the foot rest with your legs, the seat will begin to slide back as you pull on the rowing handles. A full revolution is completed as you slide back and ease the chord or chain back towards the flywheel at the end of the machine.
A rowing machine requires a lot more out of your body, and can potentially give you a better full-body workout than the elliptical machine. Try watching videos online, or having someone show you the proper form and technique, since using the wrong form can negate the workout and can even lead to injury.