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There are a great number of options available to you when selecting a piece of cardio equipment. Whether your goal is to burn calories, increase your cardiovascular endurance or improve your heart and lung function, the possibilities are endless. Any activity that elevates your heart rate for a period of time can be considered cardiovascular in nature. Some of my favorite pieces of indoor equipment are step mills, elliptical machines, and spin bikes. But you certainly don't have to be a slave to the machine. Jumping rope, swimming, jogging, and even walking will burn some calories, and are good choices for those who wish to exercise outdoors. Ultimately, the best form of cardio is one that you enjoy and will continue to do. Results come through consistency, and to be consistent you have to like what you're doing. Make it fun!
There is no particular cardio machine that is more effective than another. Cardiorespiratory training will work as long you get your heart rate up which you can do on any kind of cardio machine or by engaging in many other kinds of activities. When selecting a cardio activity, is important to consider your level of enjoyment. In order receive the benefits of exercise, your cardio activity needs to be something which you enjoy enough to do consistently. Enjoyment also plays a role in the amount of calories burned because people will normally perform activities they like at a higher intensity and for a longer duration than an activity that they do not enjoy. If you plan on using a machine in a gym (such as a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike) you should consider your posture and lifestyle before choosing which machine to use. If your daily activities require you to sit at a desk and drive in a car for most the day, it is recommended to perform something standing up such as an elliptical so that you do not further tighten your hip flexors on a stationary bike. Aches, pains, and injuries also need to be considered and discussed with a doctor before performing any exercise. Machines such as an elliptical and stationary bike offer impact-free cardio which can be easier on your joints. An elliptical machine offers an impact-free rotation type of movement which is designed to replicate a running motion; these machines also usually offer hand grips which integrate upper-body work. It is important to remember that machines such an elliptical carry a certain amount of momentum which you can minimize with resistance. The intensity of the machine, sometimes labeled as resistance, needs to be set to a point where the muscles are doing the work, not the machine's momentum.
The effectiveness of the cardio machine is totally up to you. No single piece of cardio equipment is better than the next. The determining factor should be your enjoyment. If you like to ride your bike, then a stationary bike or spinning class is for you, if you like running or walking then a treadmill is a good choice. There are also rowing machines and ellipticals. However, you do not need any equipment to get a great cardio workout, just choose an activity you enjoy and get moving. The higher your intensity the more calories you will burn. I would recommend working out using a heart rate monitor, this device will help keep you on track and make sure you are getting the most out of your workout.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.