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The Benefits of an Elliptical Machine

Updated on November 23, 2017

What Is An Elliptical Machine?

For those who don't know, an elliptical machine (or elliptical trainer) is an exercise device used to simulate certain activities such as walking, running and stair-climbing. They generally work the upper and lower body, and can vary in the intensity of the exercises they offer. In short, ellipticals can provide a great aerobic workout and cardiovascular exercise to help you get in shape and improve your overall health.

Elliptical machines come in various shapes and sizes. Moreover, they can range in cost from under $100 to several thousand dollars. Bearing these facts in mind, we look at some of the benefits offered by elliptical machines.


Elliptical vs. Running: Less Stress

One of the first questions people ask is, "What is the benefit of an elliptical machine over running?" Truthfully, it depends on your goals. For instance, if you are trying to run competitively (such as in a marathon), then running is your best option for training. If that is not your goal, however, then an elliptical trainer is probably a better option.

Running, of course, is a high-impact exercise that puts a lot of stress on bones and joints - particular those in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Over time, this can cause moderate to severe issues. However, being non-impact, an elliptical machine can help you avoid the pain and injuries typically associated with running.

Moreover, if you already have issues with your ankles or feet, or have an injury and are going through rehab, elliptical devices are a prime way to exercise and start recovering without aggravating an existing problem or injury.


Elliptical Training is Indoors

Another benefit of elliptical machines is the fact that you can do your training indoors. Unless you're already going some place like Gold's Gym to exercise, the benefit of this is self-evident - especially if you live in a locale with extremes of weather.

For instance, you may not care to spend a lot of time running outdoors in an area like Houston, where the heat and humidity turn the city into a sauna during summer. Likewise, an area like Seattle - where it rains or snows an estimated 150 days out of every year - may not be conducive to outdoor training.

In short, being able to exercise indoors can have some significant advantages, especially if you live in areas with adverse weather conditions. (And sometimes you just want the privacy afforded by being able to exercise in the comfort of yur own home.)


Elliptical Calories Burned

Now we get to the nitty gritty: how many calories are you burning with an elliptical machine versus other forms of exercise?

In general, it's conceded that working out on an elliptical machine will, on average, burn more calories than walking or jogging, but less than running. How much less, however, is an area of debate, with some saying that there is only a small difference in calories burned when running vs ellipticals; others say that the gap is wide enough to be noticeable.

That said, there seems to be firm agreement that you can diminish the calories-burned gap (and even make it negligible) by increasing the resistence on the elliptical machine.

Poll on Elliptical Machines

Do you think that elliptical machines are a good way to exercise?

See results


In short, there appear to be certain distinct advantages to using an elliptical machine. It can give you the same health benefits of other similar forms of exercise (e.g., running or jogging), but without the accompany drawbacks, such as stress on joints and exposure to the elements. Thus, if you haven't considered it before, it might be worthwhile to contemplate getting an elliptical machine.


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