Have you tried an elliptical trainer? – Brief Article

At this point you’ve seen them everywhere, from infomercials to your health club, “elliptical” is the hottest new addition to the fitness vocabulary. Is that wobbly workout a gimmick or for real? Research from the University of Wisconsin compared an elliptical trainer to a treadmill, a stair stepper, and a cycle ergometer. The study found no significant differences in terms of oxygen consumption, calorie expenditure and heart rate between treadmill running and the elliptical trainer. However, the elliptical trainer does offer advantages over treadmill running in terms of impact. While treadmill running produces the highest impact among the machines, “ground reaction forces” or impact with the elliptical trainer was less than half that of the treadmill.

The low-impact, oval motion of the elliptical trainer in which the foot does not leave the pedal, produces a workout of similar intensity but without the impact of a treadmill. Individuals who suffer impact-related orthopedic injuries may benefit from elliptical trainers. If you’re in the market for one of these machines, be forewarned that they are expensive, and according to the American Council on Exercise, you get what you pay for. Less expensive models are likely to be disappointing. ACE conducted a comparison of several different models and found the most expensive, Nordic Track-Ellipse, to score the highest. However, even for those relatively big bucks, Consumer Reports found the Ellipse to fail in terms of durability and did not recommend it.

It may be that your best bet for the elliptical trainer is at your health club. Health clubs generally purchase machines many times more expensive than those intended for home use, and repair and replace machines regularly. So, if January weather has you searching for indoor alternatives to running, give the elliptical trainers a try, but do your research if you intend to buy one for home use.

(Fitness Matters, March, April 1998, and May, June 1998)

Don’t plan to do all your training on a non-impact device warns AR&FA Editorial Board Member Jack Daniels, Ph.D. It can leave you vulnerable to impact-related injuries when you return to running. “Better to mix in some real running if you plan to be a runner when the weather warms up again,” advises Daniels. The elliptical trainer can save you from inactivity during the really bad weather, but try to hit the roads on milder days.

COPYRIGHT 1999 American Running & Fitness Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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