Cardio, one of the best things we can do for not only our fitness progress but also our cardiovascular health. There are many reasons to dip your toes into the pool of cardio options and get your body moving, but what is it about the thought of getting in action that makes us want to be even lazier? Whether it’s a good burn on the elliptical, a run on the treadmill, rowing session, a swift swim routine, or a treacherous hike, they all have many of the same benefits. With the addition of quarantine, we have even more reasons to give ourselves to justify being on the couch for hours with a pint or two of ice cream while the tv is blaring.
We all know the back and forth battle in our minds when we are met with the thought of getting up and moving; “I’ll just do it tomorrow” “the gym is closed” “I’ll work out hard tomorrow”…. these are thoughts we all have! What helps to rid yourself of these thoughts comes when you build a routine that eventually becomes a habit. “I’m so happy I got that done” “thank god I worked out today” these are also thoughts we have when we accomplish a workout, regardless of how long it lasted. There’s so much we can gain from getting active, and it doesn’t end at your physical health. Studies have proven that exercise is a benefit to your mental health as well!
As it goes without saying, getting your cardio in for the day or the week is much easier when you have a machine in your own home. One of our favorite home gym cardio options is definitely the prized elliptical; this machine works the upper and lower body, all the while benefitting your cardiovascular & mental health at the same time.
Why Opt For an Elliptical
Regardless of whether your goal is to burn fat, gain muscle, get toned, or simply maintain your current body composition, the elliptical can help with it all.
An elliptical trainer is great for people of all ages; it is very low impact which makes it a great go-to for older folks who might be riddled with chronic pain, lingering injuries, or just soreness that comes with age. In many physical therapy clinics you will find elliptical trainers because of this, and also because it creates a natural motion with your leg and foot. The smoothness in its motion lets you ease into the movements while getting the right pace that will keep you wanting to push on. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but once you get in the groove of that motion, you can continue your cardio without realizing how long you have been knocking off those calories for!
Regardless of if you opt for the elliptical, we recommend getting in cardio sessions at least 2 times per week. Even if you haven’t gotten moving in months, a quick cardio session will make you feel on top of the world. It’s this feeling we try to hold onto and remember for next time we have those doubting thoughts in the back of our head! So simply get up and active, your body and mind will thank you. Don’t make excuses relating to quarantine or that you don’t have the money for your own home gym; walk outside and get some fresh air..this leads to many impromptu sessions.
What to Look for in an Elliptical Trainer
There are certainly inexpensive ellipticals on the market which will work when you get them, but these lower-priced models are not equipped with the same technologies and adjustments as the more expensive ones, and not to mention won’t last as long. The sturdiness or stability level is also lower on this type of model so it will feel different. We recommend investing in an expensive model because it will last you twice as long and will make it easier to get your workout done. With lower quality ellipticals comes a lower weight capacity- if you are on the heavier side or are a bigger person doing HIIT training programs, it might make more sense to go for the quality model. Some of the best high-quality elliptical companies include Nautilus, Proform, and SOLE.
Ellipticals are one of the largest home cardio units you can find. They can take up a ton of space, so if you’re ordering online you need to see how big it is before making any decisions. You can estimate it will have a length anywhere from 4 to 7 feet along with an extra foot or so for the foot pedal in the back. The width is about 20 inches, so needless to say you need a big chunk of space. The last thing to consider is your ceiling height- the elliptical pedals are pretty tall and dependent on your height, you may have an issue here.
Some of the must-haves we think you need in your elliptical are:
- Stride length: the optimal, universal stride length that will work for 95% of people is around 21 inches in length. Some ellipticals will have a stride length as low as 14 inches. Talk about an uncomfortable workout! Unless you are below 5’1″…don’t even bother considering a model with such a low stride length.
- Upper-Body Assistance: Although arm handles are not a necessity for getting the job done, it’s way more comfortable and makes it easier to increase the intensity.
- Noise Level: Some machines, usually lower priced ones, can get very loud. The sound ellipticals make is something some people just can’t get over. The quieter models make for a much more enjoyable workout and don’t cause such a disturbance in your home.
- Levels of Resistance: Ellipticals often come with multiple levels of resistance regardless of the price/quality of your model. The more levels the better, because it gives you room to improve your fitness and make progress
- Incline Adjustments: Do you enjoy working out in hilly areas and giving yourself the difficulty of an incline? This feature is great regardless of what workout machine it is; the intense trainer will greatly benefit from an elliptical that allows for incline adjustments.
Summary All in all, the elliptical market is expansive with very high-end and super low-end options on the extremes of the spectrum. Keep in mind what we mentioned above to make the best purchase decision for your home gym lineup. As long as you comfortably fit on the machine, can work with all preferred functionalities, and are able to get in a good burn, chances are you found a good fit.