Since it helps keep your weight down, is low impact, and improves your body and your memory, you should seriously consider using an elliptical. Read this to learn what I’ve just learned, along with which ones might actually fit into your home* …
My body’s full of injuries — a bad knee here; a wacky hip there; a bit of a lower back issue — still, I needed to find a way to do aerobics for all those right healthy reasons. Steps, bikes and treadmills were all ruled out because they’re all too high impact. Then my sports doctor and my physical therapist pointed me to an elliptical — that weird, ugly, boring, LOW IMPACT machine. (Ask your doctor if it’s right for you.)
Recognizing I wasn’t motivated enough to run to the health club everyday to hop on, I decided to learn more about why it was good for me and if there was one small enough to fit into my apartment. My analysis began and — so you don’t have to go through the same time consuming pain-in-the ass process I just did –here’s what I found out:
Why the Elliptical is Good for You (No, I’m not getting paid to hype these machines.)
- Burns calories like crazy — it gets your heart rate up with much less perceived effort than with walking or running or lower body only workouts…one physical therapist told me that’s because you’re burning fat better in using your upper and lower body together.
- Is low impact, so won’t hurt knees, ankles, backs, hips, joints while it helps butt, thighs, hips and even abs;
- Is sophisticated with all kinds of features that let you focus on different muscle groups;
- Gives you more core engagement than other types of walking machines — it forces you to use proper posture in the way it works so you can’t cheat;
- It’s aerobic and all that implies — not just a better heart, but a better memory;
- Now comes in space saver sizes which seem pretty good for the home so you have it conveniently nearby to use (or make you feel guilty) …
Questions to ask Before Buying:
- Will it fit where I want it to go? (The ones we’re showing here fold for home use.)
- Is it noisy?
- Is it stable?
- Does it have adjustable stride. This is important as different people have different leg lengths and you will want for exercising different muscle groups?
- Do I want a rear drive (smoother feel; heel rises up more than toe so more natural feeling) or a front drive (flatter motion so will need a longer stride on the machine – may actually be better for de-conditioned people)? This is true for the larger machines like in a gym, but may not relate to smaller home equipment.
- Does is have a warranty? Expect a year — don’t accept anything shorter and also don’t buy an extended warranty because it seems you can’t always count on them.
- Can I try it in a store first? Great if you can, but don’t expect to be able to; difficult to find a store that has all or any of them on the floor.
- Is something new coming on the horizon? Yes, it’s called Adjustable Motion with lots of completely different motions on one machine — very expensive and big so not what we’re talking about here for home use anyway.
After Google-ing, reading online reviews and asking the advice of my physical therapist, I’ve narrowed my elliptical for home use options down to four:
ProForm 925: 6 cross-trainer workouts, interactive fitness coach (per amazon.com), 10 PT workouts (per proform.com), silent magnetic resistance (adjust workout smoothly)
Eclipse: 10 personal trainer workouts, 2 heart-rate programs – none interactive, magenetic resistance, no slip pedals, mixed reviews on sturdiness
Nordic Track: 8 personal trainer workouts, 2 heart rate programs – none interactive, frictionless resistance, cool air fan, over-sized pedals
Endurance: 15 levels, extra large pedals, roll away storage
In the end I’m ordering the Nordic Track. And — being really honest — the info that basically brought me to make a purchase was an article in More magazine that reiterated what I’d heard before – that aerobics improves memory. More important that article said: “It improves exactly the kind of memory that begins giving us trouble in middle age.”
After this thing arrives, and I’ve ridden it for awhile (yes, I’m disciplined about my home exercise), I’ll let you know if it was a good choice. Meanwhile if you have knowledge of a different in-home elliptical that you really love, send it in!
*CAUTION: If you have orthopedic injuries, ankle or hip pain be sure to seek medical advice before using an elliptical.
**More magazine, “Jogging Your Memory,” March 2008, page 154