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Elliptical Machines

Find out about elliptical exercise machines

Since its invention in 2004, the elliptical trainer has become one of the most popular exercise machines in gyms and homes everywhere. And with good reason: it's a solid cardiovascular workout without the sore knees and aching feet that sometimes go with runs both outside and on the treadmill.

The elliptical machine was first conceived by Larry D. Miller, as he watched his daughter run alongside his car. Miller took note of the motion her legs made, and devised a machine that would simulate the average everyday jog but could absorb the impact on joints and muscles that often comes with running on pavement.

Most elliptical machines demand that users produce motion by moving both their legs and arms, pushing flat pedals (some of which cup each foot) and gripping handles. The best elliptical machines have heart rate monitors and can even estimate the number of calories being burned through sensors in the hand grips.

There are various types of elliptical machines, including elliptical cross-trainers as well as the front-drive, center-drive, and the older and more prevalent rear-drive designs. The cost of these units largely depends on the features included; elliptical trainers with televisions and advanced sensors on-board can cost over $4,000, and are usually only found in gyms. However, there are models available with fewer features and greater portability. These usually cost around $500, making them affordable for home use.

Advantages of Elliptical Machines

The best reason to use an elliptical exercise machine is to get started on a cardiovascular routine without placing unreasonable demands on your body. Those new to cardio exercise will benefit from the machine's adjustable settings. Cardiovascular training veterans might want to advance to running, but it's always a good idea to try an elliptical machine or a stationary bike if pain in leg muscles or joints develops.

Disadvantages of Elliptical Machines

Unfortunately, elliptical machines simply won't give you the workout that an outdoor run or treadmill can provide. Also, if your machine can track calories, be sure to enter your weight and age to get an accurate reading – otherwise, there's a good chance you aren't burning as much fat as you think you are!

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